Most medicine, be it human or veterinary, is made up of reactive properties, in which it is scrambling to try and fix something once it has gone wrong, a great example is taking aspirin once the pain has started! The same is true when it comes to animal medicine. Veterinarian’s spend a huge amount of time trying to treat symptoms and problems that have already occurred.

Herbal medicine is the opposite. Herbalists see your dog’s body as a holistic, intricately balanced organism. The goal of herbal medicine is to gently reestablish and support homeostasis (normal processes) within the whole body, thus proactively maintaining wellness in healthy dogs. Let’s face it, we live in a polluted, stressful world that takes a lot out of us and our pets. Herbs can provide the body additional resources needed to help repair itself.

Herbs have been used for centuries in many cultures including, Ayurvedic, Chinese, Indian & Western. Whatever ailment you are looking to ease or relieve herbal teas can help, whether its aiding digestion, boosting immunity, reducing stress and so much more. Within Chinese medicine herbs in the form of tea are considered a superior delivery mechanism because hot water is the most effective way to extract the vitamins and minerals from the herbs with the added benefit that the tea is easily and quickly absorbed by the body. Herbal teas don't contain tea leaves from the camellia sinensis tea plant (which gives us our traditional teas) - instead, naturally caffeine-free herbal teas consist of parts of the plants such as the roots, leaves, seeds, flowers and/or bark.

Like drugs, herbs can be used to relieve symptoms. However, unlike drugs, herbs are mostly safe and gentle with minimal side effects. Furthermore, most western drugs are a single compound that has been isolated, where herbs are sourced from a medicinal plant that has a myriad of healing compounds.

While herbs can be a great natural alternative for relief, the greatest benefit from herbs for your dog exists in their support of the natural healing mechanisms already present in your dog’s body. Ours and our pet’s bodies want to be healthy, and a combination of herbs, excellent nutrition and proper exercise all work synergistically to over time, help the body build, maintain, and repair itself. The 3 blends of tea from Barking Mad Creations can effectively help to deliver this. 

Here’s some of my top tips when utilizing herbs to promote optimal health in your dog:

  1. Herbs work more slowly than most drugs which is the single most common cause of frustration of pet owners with herbs. Be patient, and talk with your veterinarian about quicker-acting relief if you think your dog is uncomfortable or in pain.
  2. Some animals respond very favorably to a small amount of herbs in the form of tea, others may require larger amounts of tea to see the benefits. Every dog is unique, so exercise patience and expect some trial and error when starting herbal therapy with your dog.
  3. The duration of any herbal therapy varies with each dog. Generally, it is best to take at least a two-day break from herbal tea or any herbal therapy once a week, i.e. five days on, two days off, and monitor your dog’s response to the tea.
  4. Some herbs interact with prescription medications, and some herbal teas can be a good alternative or addition to pharmaceuticals for some patients. Always inform your veterinary healthcare team of any herbs that you are giving to your dog.
  5. If your dog is picky and doesn’t want to drink the tea, try mixing the tea with chicken broth, beef broth or tuna juice to make it an extra special treat.
  6. Herbs can lose potency over time, so be sure to use your teas before the expiration date. Fresher is always better, so always seal the packet they come in, or move them to an air-tight container.

Dr. Sarah Wooten graduated from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. A member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, Dr. Wooten divides her professional time between a small animal practice in Greeley, Colorado, public speaking on associate issues, leadership, and client communication, and writing. She enjoys camping with her family, skiing, SCUBA, and participating in triathlons.