Herbs Are Good For Man’s Best Friend

Many people chuckle when I say that I planted a herb garden just for my dog. But it’s true. My dog, a faithful mutt named Hatchet, has his very own little herb garden in a corner of my yard. The majority of the time, he’ll wait for me to pick the herbs and add them into his food. Sometimes he’ll snatch a good mouthful right from the patch. Of course, my garden is completely organic so there’s no harm in him doing this. In fact, I encourage him because the herbs that I’ve included in Hatchet’s Herb Patch are particularly good for him, and help to keep him in excellent health. Here are some herbs that I would recommend  planting for your own four-legged furry friend:

    Parsley–  This is Hatchet’s personal favorite. Sometimes I catch him just licking the fragrant leaves of the plant once they get a little bit warm from the sun. There are several different varieties of parsley that you can find. Most are very hardy and will grow to be as large as 3 feet in height.  In the hot summers, parsley does definitely need a good dose of water every morning.

Parsley is a wonderful herb because you can use every part of it: the leafs, roots, and seeds. I grab leaves by the handful and add them into Hatchet’s food. Not only is it a nutritious supplement to his diet since the leaves are packed with chlorophyll, but it is also very helpful in combatting nasty dog breath.

If Hatchet gets into the garbage or seems to have a bit of an upset stomach, I’ll give him a handful of parsley leaves twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, since they work to improve digestion.  By the way, you can also give your dog a fresh clove of garlic if he has an upset stomach. Garlic is great for your dog’s digestive system, it’s just not as friendly on the breath as parsley is. If your dog has arthritis, (which fortunately Hatchet does not yet) try making a tea out of parsley roots. It is helpful for the holistic treatment of arthritis, and is a cleansing diuretic as well.

    Valerian– Valerian is such an amazing herb for a wealth of different reasons. I got my first Valerian seeds from my Survival Herb Bank, and I can’t even begin to tell you how well it has grown with very little effort on my part. My Valerian plant is nearly a good 5 feet tall. It survives through the winters here in Virginia; all I’ve done is placed some mulch around it. I’ve heard that a good Valerian plant is strong enough to survive even in very cold regions such as southern Canada! The plant is supremely adaptable and seems to do well both in sun and part shade.

Now Hatchet, like most dogs, has a tendency to have a bit of a panic attack during thunderstorms. And don’t even think about setting off fireworks around him. He nearly foams at the mouth because he shakes and barks so hard on the fourth of July. Since we’ve learned what Hatchet’s triggers are, we’ve learned when to employ the trusted Valerian root. Once ingested, the root’s calming properties take effect in as little as an hour. My son jokingly says that it makes the dog high, but really Valerian is just pleasantly calming. This is true for both dogs and humans.

I harvest my Valerian root in the fall. The plant blossoms with tiny little fragrant white blossoms in August- don’t plan to harvest your roots until after the plant has bloomed. But, make sure you do it before the first frost of fall. So your window of time is going to be around September or October. I would recommend waiting until your plants are at least 2 years old to harvest the roots, otherwise there won’t be much there.

Once you have uprooted the medicinal root part of the plant, wash it very thoroughly and dry it with paper towels. Then, place your roots on a cookie sheet. The quickest and easiest way to dry out your roots in to place them in your oven on its very lowest setting for a couple hours. Check them every thirty minutes or so, and remove them from the oven once they are completely dry. They will become very brittle, but you must make sure to dry them completely, otherwise they will grow mold and rot.

If you are planning to use the root yourself, you may wish to grind the root using a mortar and pestle, then turn it into a capsules. Most people prefer this, as the roots have an extremely pungent smell. Something interesting, however, is that the smell is very attractive to dogs, cats, mice, and other animals. Legend has it that the Pied Piper actually filled his pockets with Valerian root to attract his critters. So for my dog, all I do is grind up about a teaspoon of root and mix it in with his food. I also keep a little fence around the Valerian plant in Hatchet’s Herb Garden. Otherwise, it’s likely that it would be uprooted by the neighborhood’s bunnies, or by Hatchet himself.

    Calendula– Skin conditions such as hotspots, dryness, and flakiness are pretty common for dogs. While our first instinct may be to give the dog a bath and a good scrubbing, this can actually worsen the problem. When Hatchet gets a bit of dry skin, I make a tea with Calendula blossoms, allow it to cool, and place it in a spray bottle. It makes a safe and gentle remedy for his dry skin.

Calendula is a wonderful herb that has a great number of uses. It can be used for everything from calming insect bites, to treating post-surgical wounds and keeping them free of infection. Calendula can also be consumed to help treat menstrual cramps, ulcers, and upset stomachs. I received my Calendula seeds from my Survival Herb Bank, and the plants are always amazingly healthy. If I continuously water them and snap off dead blossoms, they continue to produce blooms throughout the year.

The part of the Calendula plant that I use for Hatchet’s skin soother is the blossoms. It is best to harvest them when they are in full bloom. I then hang them upside down from the ceiling in my shed to dry them out. You can do this in pretty much any dry place, such as an attic or closet. Once the blossoms are dry, I boil them whole to create a sort of tea, then strain the liquid into a spray bottle. It is remarkably easy. You can even try storing the spray bottle in your fridge for the next time you get a sunburn. A cool Calendula spray is very soothing to dogs and humans alike.


2 comments so far

  1. judy on

    I am looking for some herbs/plants for my garden: 1 ones that won’t harm my dog (he has seizures) and 2 to make the patio area look nicer. Hope this advise works.

  2. […] large bunch of parsley, try using it in pesto instead of basil. My dog Hatchet loves parsley, too. You can give parsley to dogs to help calm an upset stomach or freshen their […]

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