BY: Eric Stenson
Herbal supplements have become popular for humans as a way to help enhance health naturally and hopefully minimize or eliminate the need for medications, with their host of potential side effects. This is also the case for pets, since overuse of some medications can cause illnesses in animals, according to the Natural Dog Health Remedies website.
Natural Dog Health Remedies asserts that, in some cases, alternative remedies such as herbal treatment work better. In other cases, herbal treatment for dogs can be used as a complementary treatment for the overall well-being of pets.
The Rise of Herbs
Janice Gianforte, president of Nupro in Manalapan, New Jersey, is certainly among the believers. Her company produces a whole line of supplements for cats, dogs and ferrets, including Lyfe-Spyce, a powder that leans heavily on herbs and other botanicals. According to the company’s website, Lyfe-Spyce is a proprietary plant-based formula designed to provide key ingredients that support and optimize multiple organ and immune system functions in dogs whose quality of life may be challenged by the debilitating health issues common today.
“Herbals are getting so hot in the marketplace because people are concerned about side effects,” she said. “Natural products cut down on the number of negative things happening.”
Of course, sometimes pets are sick enough that conventional medicines become necessary. Gianforte says herbal remedies can help then, too.
“They’re also complementary with things you might be doing with your veterinarian,” she said. “They are made to go along with a lot of modern medicines. There’s no reason why you can’t use herbal supplements to help.”
Life-Spyce features turmeric acid, medicinal mushrooms, and organic non-GMO fermented soy protein.
“Soy used to be thought of as a cheap protein, but when you are using non-GMO fermented soy, which is very common in Asian diets, they get a lot of benefit from that,” she said. “It’s very good for the immune system—helps fight inflammation.”
A Natural Start
Susan Goldstein, who co-founded Earth Animal in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband, holistic veterinarian Dr. Bob Goldstein, considers herbals a key part of their business, since a natural approach was a key component when Dr. Bob started his holistic practice 35 years ago.
“Our philosophy was to cause no harm – it was part of the protocol for the practice,” Susan Goldstein said. “Herbs play a vital role in energy medicine.”
Earth Animal’s condition-specific herbal remedies are named based on what they target: Allergy & Skin; Vital Eye; No More Runs; No More Worms; Clean Mouth; Gums & Breath; Aches & Discomfort; Calm Down; Urinary & Kidney Relief; Cough; Wheeze & Sneeze; and Immune Support. Herbs used in the various formulas include goldenseal, turmeric, echinacea, coltsfoot leaf, myrrh, licorice root, yarrow flowers and St. John Wort.
They source most of their herbs from a master herbalist in Vermont, Susan Goldstein said, and also get emotional-healing herbs from the Shasta Mountains in California.
“These are an alternative to antihistamines, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories,” she explained. “They are an alternative to drugs that can cause side-effects. Chronic use can lead to trouble.”
Earth Animal’s herbal commitment also extends to its flea and tick control program. Products in that line include Organic Herbal Flea & Tick Drops, Herbal Flea & Tick Spot On (for cats and dogs), and even an herbal flea color, also for canines and felines.
“It’s an alternative to using pesticides,” Susan said. “Sourcing Bob’s vet background has really helped us in effecting change.”
Backed by Research
NHV Natural Pet Products of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, makes a wide variety of natural herbal remedies, in drops and ointment forms for cats and dogs. Patra Da Silva, the company’s president, says the supplements themselves were formulated by a holistic veterinarian and master herbalist with a combined 50 years of experience developing plant-based remedies.
“NHV is a brand that invests heavily in clinical trials and research to scientifically prove efficacy,” she said. “Our most recent study is with the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine for our herbal remedy called Tripsy.”
The study indicated that Tripsy significantly decreased the risk of developing urinary stones in both young cats and adult dogs. Other products include Echo-Gold for dogs (targets ear infections); Milk Thistle (for liver and kidney detox and cancer support); Felimm for cats (intended to ward off feline leukemia and FIV virus), and Plantaeris for cats (targeting diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome). They are liquid-based supplements that come with a dropper and can be administered straight into a pet’s mouth or mixed with food.
Da Silva also reminds owners that different cats and dogs have different needs, and owners need to do their homework when selecting which herbal remedies work best.
“It’s a good idea for pet owners to familiarize themselves with any health conditions associated with a particular breed,” she said. “Pet owners can then start their pet on the appropriate supplements or take any appropriate treatment steps before a disease progresses too far.”
From a retailer perspective, Whiskers Holistic Pet Care in New York City is an old hand at providing herbal supplements for its feline and canine customers.
“We’ve been recommending, selling and using herbal supplements for 30 years,” said owner Randy Klein. “This might be different for mainstream stores where they are just getting started.”
Brands the store carries include Pet Therapy, Vet’s Best, and even its store label, Whiskers Own DMG Immune Strength Support. More important than any one product, Klein says, is making sure you’re getting the right ingredients for your pet’s needs.
“It’s not just a particular herb that treats liver or kidney ailments, arthritis or heart disease, but rather a combination prescribed by holistic vets or nutritional counselors,” Klein concluded. “Consult an expert. Don’t just guess.”