Humans have used herbal therapy for thousands of years and herbal therapy has been used in the East on animals for a very long time, but it’s a relative newcomer to the veterinarian world in the West. Today, more and more vets are looking into alternative, non-invasive ways to treat animals — and therapies utilizing herbs for pets has become a well-respected option.
Can all Animals Benefit From Herbal Therapy?
Most of the research done on herbal therapy has been done on humans. That means there’s no standard dosage or recommendations set for pets. This is why is so important to work with a vet who understands herbs and how to use them properly and safely on animals.
Although herbal therapy could be used for many different species, most patients are dogs and cats and horses. One of the reasons for this is that it’s easier to work out dosages for mammals because their anatomy is closer to that of humans. Herbal use in birds, reptiles and other animals is certainly more complicated and harder to find someone who is trained.
How Does Herbal Therapy Work?
Herbal therapy comes in many forms. Plants can be used in the form of oils, tinctures, granular extracts or tablets. This depends on the herb, but also on the concentration and the issue to be treated. Sometimes it’s necessary to try more than one type of herbal therapy or formulation to find what works for your pet. For example, some pets might have a hard time with a tincture because of its smell or taste, but they might not object to taking a pill disguised inside a small piece of food.
Just because herbs are natural doesn’t mean they’re harmless. The wrong dose of some herbal medicines or the combination of herbs and other medications could cause serious side effects, especially in animals that are already very sick or those taking other medications. To avoid complications, always work with a trained veterinarian.
Also, keep in mind that herbal medicine can be used either alone or together with traditional treatment. In both cases, a vet still needs to examine your pet and provide an accurate diagnosis before a recommendation for treatment can be made.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With Herbal Therapy?
In general, the use of herbal therapy is mainly supportive. That means herbs can help support the healthy functioning of the organs, including hearts, kidneys and liver. If your pet is suffering from a condition that affects those organs, adding herbal therapy to the treatment can speed up recovery and ease symptoms.
Many herbs can also be used to help strengthen the immune system. For pets with chronic disease or recuperating from illness or surgery, herbs can be used to improve blood flow, lower inflammation and pain, and heal damaged tissues. Herbal therapy can be a great add-on (or sometimes a replacement) for treatment used to deal with chronic conditions, including pain and inflammation.
Are Therapeutic Herbs For Pets Effective?
This is a very difficult question to answer, since not even traditional medicine is always effective. The success of herbal therapy depends on many factors, including the issue being treated, how advanced the problem is, and the age and overall health of your pet. Working with an experienced veterinarian who understands herbal therapy is key to successful treatment, because he/she will know the correct dosage and combination of herbs to address your pet’s health condition.
Because there are no standard recommendations for the use of herbs in pets, it’s up to your veterinarian who is trained in herbal therapy to guide you in choosing and using herbal remedies for your pet. Sometimes, that means trying a few combinations of herbs until the perfect match is found. Also, herbs sometimes take longer than traditional drugs to be effective, so you might need to continue with therapeutic herbs for pets for a longer period of time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. It doesn’t necessarily mean the treatment is not working.