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Four Best Ayurvedic Herbs for Pet Health

05/20/2020
Herbal Secrets, Uncategorized
A cat and a corgi sit in a field

We’re not alone in cherishing our companion animals. In Vedic mythology, dogs are venerated as symbols of the divine and protectors of the gates of heaven. In Nepal, a yearly festival called Tihar is celebrated to give thanks to dogs for their loyal, protective natures. The Hindu folk goddess Sashti, who assists in childbirth, rides a cat, and in the Hindu tradition, killing a cat is a grave sin. Ayurvedic herbs for pet health have been utilized for thousands of years to nurture “man’s best friend.”

Early Ayurvedic texts mention veterinary medicine, treatment therapies, and surgeries — centuries ago, animal healer Sali Hotra wrote the veterinary Ayurvedic Materia Medica as a guide to safe and effective herbs for animals. Below are four adaptogenic Ayurvedic herbs and a formula used for pets. Please note that this information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition and is for informational purposes only. Consult your veterinarian for any diagnosis and treatment protocol. 

Dogs at the annual Tihar Dog Festival in Nepal

1. Tulsi

Widely venerated in India as a sacred plant, Tulsi provides the same benefits to cats and dogs as it does to humans. It is used in Ayurveda to relieve gastric distress and is an “amphoteric” herb that contains antioxidants and supports immune system efficiency while down-regulating immune system over-activity. Tulsi can also help to calm hyperactive dogs, and support animals who are under environmental or physical stress. The herb is also recommended for maintaining healthy skin and hair — the ancient Vedic texts recommend Tulsi oil to support a healthy inflammatory response in the skin. Manufacturers of veterinary Tulsi supplements recommend roughly 700 mg. per dose for dogs, and half that for cats. If an animal is prone to low blood pressure, Tulsi may not be recommended as the herb’s calming characteristics may contribute to lowering blood pressure. Tulsi may also slow blood clotting.

2. Ashwagandha

Another Ayurvedic adaptogen, Ashwagandha is available for pets in several commercial formulations. As with humans, Ashwagandha is viewed as a rejuvenator and restorative for pets, and is also used in formulations to help support adrenal health. This herb is notable for its ability to both energize and calm, and also provides a healthy inflammatory response in the body. Some experts recommend the herb for cats to oxygenate the blood and bolster kidney health, suggesting that Ashwagandha helps regulate oxygen-transporting red blood cells. It is also recommended for calming anxious, frightened animals, helping them to relax and rest. General dosage recommendations range from 200 – 500 mg. twice daily for cats, and 500 – 1000 mg. twice daily for dogs. Please note that this dosage information is for educational purposes only, and not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice. 

3. Turmeric

When it comes to Ayurvedic herbs for pet health, no list is complete without Turmeric. This much-researched herb has gained popularity for its joint-supportive characteristics, but it is safe for pets and has several other beneficial properties. Turmeric is used in Ayurveda to support healthy digestive, respiratory, and circulation systems, and is recognized as having a strong ability to modulate a health inflammatory response. It is recommended for animal joint care, for its deep ability to soothe and relieve temporary pain of healthy joints. The protective herb also supports immune health and maintains vitality and youthfulness in pets. Dose recommendations are one-half to one teaspoon every 12 hours for dogs and one quarter teaspoon every 12 hours for cats. Please note that this dosage information is for educational purposes only, and not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice. 

4. Triphala

Triphala is a classic Ayurvedic blend of three wild fruits — Amla, aka Amalaki, Haritake, and Bibhitaki. This formula has been used for centuries as a tonic to support digestive fire, or “agni,” and provide a gentle laxative action. Triphala capsules contain antioxidants and vitamin C that help support immune health and digestion.

According to Dr. Tejinder Sodhi, Triphala is an intestinal cleanser that, unlike other laxatives, first aids in digestion, then helps the body eliminate toxins. Dr. Sodhi also states that Triphala is a “rasayana,” or substance that rejuvenates the body — he recommends this formula for anyone looking to support the digestive and detoxification organs and systems of the body.

Notably, Triphala is made with “wild-crafted” fruits, meaning that the Amla, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki used in the formulation are harvested from undeveloped forest regions rather than domestically cultivated. Because of widespread industrialization in India, many forest environments are subject to pollution and environmental contaminants. ORGANIC INDIA, in partnership with the government of India, has had 800,000 acres of forest certified as organic, so the wild-harvested fruits used in the Triphala formulation are pure and uncontaminated.