Herbs do double duty, livening up a meal and providing a host of health benefits. Whether you're using herbs for medicinal value or to accent your food, it's smart to consider what is safe for your dog. Most of the herbs you want to enjoy in your dinner are safe for your dog, too.
The gardening cook, or the cooking gardener, appreciates a well-stocked herb garden. The basic herbs oregano, rosemary and basil are safe for your dog, so feel free to grow them abundantly. In fact, they also provide therapeutic benefits. Rosemary is high in calcium, iron and vitamin B6, while oregano is helpful for diarrhea and gas. Basil contributes antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial benefits.
You may have an herb garden to help with the occasional health problem that pops up. You can have a garden full of safe home remedies at hand with milk thistle, burdock, goldenseal and calendula flowers. Burdock treats allergies, digestive and kidney issues, while milk thistle focuses on the liver. Calendula flowers heal wounds and goldenseal is an effective antibiotic, helpful for eye infections and stomach and bowel problems. Valerian and chamomile are also dog-friendly, useful for their relaxing properties.
Safe shade-growing herbs include mint, tarragon, parsley, chives and lemon balm. Mint will brighten up many dishes and drinks, as well as soothe an upset stomach. Parsley is rich in vitamin C and lemon balm is versatile, serving as a digestive aid, wound dresser and comforting compress for joint pain. Other herbs for shaded areas that are safe for dogs include thyme, chives and golden oregano.
Herbs to Avoid
When you plant your herbs, take care to avoid cilantro, which may cause digestive upset and cardiac arrhythmia. Spring parsley, a member of the carrot family, should also stay out of your garden; its high levels of furanocoumarin cause photo sensitivity, leading to skin damage. The grass from a bulb of garlic is fine for a dog, but large amounts of garlic cloves can make him sick. If your dog has a taste for garlic, it's best to keep this out of the garden.
Using Herbs Safely
When you're cooking supper, feel free to pinch a few herbs and chop them up to throw on your dog's dinner. Choose herbs that don't have any fertilizers or pesticides that may make him ill. If you're interested in using herbs for their healing properties, consult a holistic vet to learn how to administer them properly and to ensure they won't conflict with any current health issues or medication.