Using Herbs to Treat your Pet


Natural alternative treatment for your dog, cat and other animals


Holistic Pet Care






There is a popular belief that no harm can be done when treating ourselves or animals with herbs.  This is not correct and there are a few simple rules to help prevent adverse reactions in our pets when dosing with herbs.  Most herbs available in retail outlets are of a lower strength than are used by Holistic Veterinary Surgeons and most would be what are known as “gentle herbs” that should have minimal side effects.


Some herbs have the potential to cause allergic reactions in animals – cease use and check with a Holistic Veterinarian if this has occurred.  If your dog, cat or other animal is on medication, mention this or check with an authority on herbs that there will not be an additive effect or interference with the existing treatment.  Many older cats with kidney problems have high blood pressure and liquorice would be contraindicated for long term use as it can raise blood pressure.


Herbs are like other drugs and the body needs a break of 1-2 weeks every couple of months so that the herb doesn’t lose its effect on the body.  A herb with a similar effect but different chemistry may be used during this period.


To work out a dose rate for your pet, treat a German shepherd (40kg) as the equivalent of a human adult dose.  A kelpie would take half a human dose and a cat or a small dog will require a ¼ human dose.


The following case histories use gentle herbs and may be used as First Aid remedies before you consult a Holistic Veterinarian.


“Monty”, the young Maltese Terrier, was brought in by his owner because he was off his food a little, had a dry nose and only wanted to lie around.  On examining him, he was running a temperature – his ears felt hot (dog equivalent to “feeling the brow”) – but there were no other clinical signs at this time.  He was placed on Echinacea and Vitamin C, as the temperature increase was only moderate, and sent home to be watched and pampered and to see if any other symptoms developed.  Use Echinacea for only 2 – 3 weeks continuously and then have a break.  Holistic Veterinarians generally do not use it to prevent an animal from picking up a disease.


Golden Retrievers are noted for eating things that should be avoided and “Lady” had eaten some grass which had just been sprayed with a chemical.  It was too late to get her to vomit the grass up so the next avenue was to protect her liver and kidneys from the toxin.  To protect her liver, milk thistle Silybum marianum was prescribed in a high dose in combination with dandelion root Taraxacum officinale to act as a diuretic and increase the flow of fluids through the kidneys.   Antioxidants were added to the diet to prevent free radical damage and treatment continued for 1 – 2 weeks while watching for any untoward signs.  If you feel that your pet has been exposed to any toxic household or environmental chemicals, use this treatment to help prevent harmful side effects.  Remember cats and dogs are low to the ground, roll in and eat grass and lick anything a bit different, so avoid chemical use if possible.


Cystitis is a common problem in cats, especially those who are confined to apartments and small back yards.  There are several ways to increase the effectiveness of your current treatment and prevent further attacks.  Products containing bearberry Uva ursi are contraindicated as we want to acidify the urine and bearberry works best in alkaline urine.  Cranberry can be used as an astringent for the bladder lining which is usually thickened and ulcerated in chronic cases and can take up to 2 months to heal.  One of the most effective treatments is to add ½ cup of water to each of your cat’s soft food meals and to give 250mg of Vitamin C orally to help heal the bladder and to acidify the urine.  Some cats do not drink enough water.  This is probably the fault of modern diets.  Cats in the wild would get most of their water intake from their food.  The extra water flushes out crystals from the bladder which irritate the lining and predispose the cat to bacterial infection.  Your cat would need to stay on this regime for life.


Many older pets suffer from arthritis just as we do.  “Bob”, the 12 year old Border Collie, was a little stiff when getting going in the mornings and not as keen to go for walks as he had been in the past.  He was already on a chondroitin/glucosamine product to help the joints but he needed something for when he overdid things or when the weather changed and he became a bit stiff.  At those times, a preparation containing willow bark Salix alba could be given for pain relief.  Although aspirin (acetyl salicylate) has been extracted from willow bark, the acetyl group has been added and this causes the anti-clotting reaction we see with aspirin.  In theory, willow bark should be safe to use but I always keep a watchful eye on the dog for any strange bleeding symptoms.  If “Bob” gets worse, he can be treated with acupuncture or a suitable homeopathic remedy.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also available but these should be used with caution.


As with any home treatment, if your pet is not improving within 24 hours (less time if there is deterioration), consult your Holistic Veterinarian.



Dr Douglas Wilson



The Holistic Vet Online

5A Leone Court

Lismore Heights

NSW 2480



Natural alternative treatment for your dog, cat and other animals


Holistic Pet Care


Page last edited: May 24th 2016

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