Aromatic & Herbal Remedies for Animals


Cheryl Hoard

Many alternative health disciplines are successfully used to treat animals, especially our beloved pets. Herbalism and Aromatherapy are utilized safely and effectively for animals as well as humans. Plants have been our medicine since the earliest written record. Herbalism encompasses various and broad uses of plants as healing agents. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for health and well-being. Essential oils are the strongest form of herbs available, produced from distillation of plant material.

Generally the same herbs and essential oils used for human conditions can be used on animals in the appropriate amounts. Because of the extreme concentration of essential oils, more safety cautions naturally apply to their use. For example, diluted essential oils applied to your skin are too strong for the sensitive skin of cats. Essential oils are not applied to a cat’s skin except to treat a wound.

To calculate a proper dosage for your pet, think about how much of a natural remedy you would take for yourself. Consider your weight and then your pet’s weight and do the math. If you would take 20 drops of an extract but your pet weighs a fourth of your weight, then your pet’s dose is 5 drops. Some authors recommend half-teaspoon of tea for a kitten and one or two teaspoons for a grown cat or small dog, increasing accordingly for larger dogs. Extracts or teas can be mixed into food or a squeeze bottle and placed into the cheek pouch until all liquid is swallowed. For mild, minor or brief illnesses, remedy could be given three or four times a day and for chronic conditions, twice a day for several weeks. Quite often a few day’s fast is suggested before administration of herbal remedies except in cases of diabetes.

Aromatherapy has its unique uses in that essential oils can be diffused into the air. Your pet can be confined to the room with the diffuser or in its carrier box. Just today someone told me their kitty lost its voice so eucalyptus oil was diffused in the room and in a day or two the kitty had its voice back and a respiratory condition was prevented. Anti-stress essential oils can also be diffused for a variety of behavior problems. The most important thing to remember about the use of essential oils is that they must be diluted before applying to the body.

As with human use of natural remedies, pet owners enjoy them in place of common chemical preparations used for minor problems typically treated at home. They appreciate and strive for something natural instead of synthetic. Pet owners also have amazing success with natural remedies in treatment of more serious conditions of the liver, kidney, heart, digestive tract as well as arthritis, immune deficiency, tumors and cancer. Sometimes these owners have exhausted all options that conventional treatment has to offer and turn to natural techniques as a last resort only to be delighted with the results. Certainly not all cases result in complete recovery but the varying degrees of pain relief, increased vitality and tumor diminishment is greatly appreciated by both pet and owner.

Your herbal medicine cabinet can become your first line of defense when a symptom becomes evident. This brings us closer to the concept that prevention is better than the cure. Healing is quicker the sooner the natural remedy is used. If the symptoms continue or become worse a trip to the vet may be necessary. Quite often natural methods can eliminate the need for a professional and they often can be used in conjunction with standard medical care. Use common sense though, do not use natural remedies to replace necessary care by a qualified practitioner!

Herbs and essential oils provide gentle and thorough healing with long lasting beneficial effects. Herbs aid our pets’ bodies to heal themselves. Pets are sometimes more sensitive than we humans and easily show improvement from the use of natural methods. What a wonderful thing it is to help a sensitive little creature with a gentle healing plant. Sounds like the natural thing to do!

Here is a list of some of the most commonly recommended herbs and essential oils by various authors and authorities. This list does not include all necessary details involving administration of these remedies but just briefly gives some suggestions to consider.

ALFALFA LEAF Medicago sativa – Arthritis, provides nutrients

ECHINACEA ROOT Echinacea angustifolia – Antibacterial and antiviral (external and internal)

ESSIAC FORMULA (Burdock, Sheep Sorrel, Slippery Elm & Rhubarb) – Cancer, leukemia, immune deficiencies and tumors

EUCALYPTUS ESSENTIAL OIL Eucalyptus globulus – Respiratory problems, insect repellent

DANDELION ROOT Taraxacum officinale – Allergies, skin conditions, provides nutrients, useful in urinary probmes

GARLIC Alium sativum – (dry, not fresh) Makes pets less attractive to fleas and internal parasites

GINGER ESSENTIAL OIL Zingiber officinale – (inhaled only) digestive problems, car sickness

GOLDEN SEAL ROOT Hydrastis canadensis – Antibacterial, antiseptic on wounds

HAWTHORN BERRY Crataegus laevigata – Strengthens heart

HYDRANGEA ROOT Hydrandea arborescens – Urinary problems

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL Lavandula angustifolia – Analgesic, sedative, antiseptic, skin problems, wounds

MILK THISTLE SEED Silybum marianum – Liver support

PARSLEY LEAF Petroselinum cripum – Urinary problems

RESCUE REMEDY Bach Flower Essence – Stress, Anxiety

SLIPPERY ELM BARK Ulmus fulva – Diarrhea, vomiting, digestive problems

ST. JOHN’S WORT INFUSED OIL Hypericum perforatum – Skin conditions, wounds, burns

TUMERIC ROOT Curcuma longa – Anti-inflammatory

VALERIAN ROOT Valariana offinalis – Analgesic and sedative

WHITE WILLOW BARK Salix alba – Anti-inflammatory and analgesic

YARROW HYDROSOL Achillea Millefolium – All skin problems



Levy, de Bairacli, Juliette. The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat. London: Faber and Faber Ltd. 1992.

Stein, Diane. Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press. 1993

Kidd, Randy. Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Dog Care. Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. 2000.

Elliot, Jill. and Bloomer, Kim. Whole Health for Happy Dogs. New York. Crestline. 2006.

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