You may have tried conventional veterinary products in the past to treat your dog's internal parasites, but felt like you were getting more toxins in your dog's system than you bargained for. Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided some herbal options to help reduce intestinal populations and encourage their expulsion. Natural doesn't always mean safe. It's always best to consult with your holistic vet first.
Getting Healthy from the Inside Out
It's a fact: Parasites are attracted to weak, sickly animals. Whether your dog is weakened from a poor diet, repeated vaccinations or the prolonged administration of drugs, he'll be a target for pesky parasites. Even the continuous use of monthly flea preventatives with dewormers weakens dogs by disrupting their healthy bacterial populations. Christina Chambreau, a veterinary homeopath from Baltimore, Maryland, suggests building good health with good nutrition and the least amount of vaccinations.
Tapering Off Tapeworms
Pumpkins make more than festive Halloween decorations. Richard H. Pitcairn, veterinarian and author of the book "Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats," suggests fighting tapeworms by adding 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of ground raw pumpkin seeds to each meal based on the dog's size. Another natural tapeworm dewormer is unrefined diatomaceous earth. Again, based on a dog's size, 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of food-grade diatomaceous earth is mixed in with the dog's meal. Consult with your veterinarian for proper dosage.
Rounding Up Roundworms
For roundworm infestations, Dr. Pitcairn suggests giving one tablet of the homeopathic drug Cina 3X, a remedy made of wormseed, three times a day for at least three weeks. Additionally, he suggests feeding 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of wheat or oats along with the same quantity of raw grated carrots, turnips or beets to scrub the weakened worms out of the dogs digestive tract.
Hooked on Hookworms and Heartworms
It's wrong to assume that conventional treatments should be avoided at all costs. Even holistic vets may recommend their use in serious, advanced cases such as heavy hookworm infestations or when natural treatments aren't working. For heartworm prevention, the use of nosodes and other homeopathic options may seem useful but they aren't guaranteed to work. If you decide to go this route, consider heartworm testing at least every three to four months. The American Heartworm Society warns that natural treatments are not proven effective or safe for prevention or treatment of heartworm disease.
A Word of Caution
It's often assumed that natural equals safe, but this is not always the truth. For instance, black walnut is a natural dewormer, but it's also highly toxic and risky to give without veterinary supervision. Extreme caution needs to be used with wormwood. This herb can cause adverse effects in pregnant dogs and dogs suffering from seizures, kidney and liver disease. Garlic, is classified as toxic by the Pet Poison Helpline, and, given in wrong doses, may cause Heinz anemia and prolonged bleeding times. Play it safe and only give supplements under the guidance of a holistic vet.