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Herbal Therapy in Dogs and Cats

What are Therapeutic Herbs?

Herbs are plants that contain active therapeutic properties. Oftentimes, these properties are present only in a specific part of a specific plant, and other plants in the same family, may have no therapeutic properties at all. These herbs can be used in many forms, but therapy is commonly used in a combination of like-property herbs for medicinal purposes.

How are Therapeutic Herbs used in Veterinary Medicine?

Herbal Therapy (also known as a branch of TCM – Traditional Chinese Medicine, or Eastern Medicine) diverges from conventional medicine in that conventional medicine believes it is more safe and effective to administer specific doses of a pure active chemical (synthetic or naturally from plants), while herbal (TCM or Eastern) medicine practitioners believe it is more effective to administer whole herbs or extracts as other ingredients in the herb work synergistically to increase the effectiveness of the medicine.

How can Herbal Supplements Help my Pet?

Therapeutic herbs can result in improved outcomes and fewer side effects than many pharmaceutical products for management and treatment of similar issues when compared to conventional medicine.

A few studies confirmed by clinical and laboratory research on medicinal herbs include the support of normal function of the liver, kidneys, heart, and immune system; reduced inflammation and improved blood flow through damaged tissues; normalization of smooth muscle contraction; promotion of the differentiation, aging and death of tumor cells, and elimination of pain.

In many cases, herbal medicine can eliminate the need for chronic medications. The components of herbal formulas may act synergistically to give greater positive effects than would be possible when used individually. Such synergistic interactions between herb constituents have been repeatedly demonstrated in laboratory research on both single herbs and herbal formulas

When is it Safe to Give my Pets Herbal Therapy?

Herbal Therapy used in pets as a supplement is safe if provided by a well-regarded company backed by veterinary research. It can be used to maintain health for your pet’s heart, metabolic, skin & coat, joint, and eye & vision health. Often, theses herbal supplements are given as tonics to support and improve healthy, normal organ function Our favorites can be found in the QBOW Collection by Wellnergy Pets:

What Conditions are Treated by Herbal Therapy Specifically?

Herbal Therapy used as specific treatment however, should be done under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. As veterinary herbal treatment grows as a specialty, there are increasing numbers of veterinarians in private practice who have obtained the necessary training and experience in herbal medicine. In many cases, referral is not necessary, but should be considered for the herbal management of very dangerous, refractory, or delicate conditions.

Many refractory cases to conventional medicine can be treated with herbal therapy, as well as other difficult to manage conditions such as: Seizures, Kidney Failure, Chronic Arthritis, Hormonal Disorders (such as Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s), Behavioral Disorders, Allergic Skin Diseases, Liver Failure, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

How successful Can Herbal Therapy Be?

The success of herbal treatment will vary according to the age of the patient, prior treatment history and diagnosis. Since the science of herbology hasn't caught up with herbal practice at this time, even scientifically trained practitioners must rely upon clinical experience and traditional knowledge when deciding on an herbal prescription. When high quality herbs from reputable sources are used, dosages are more consistent and the outcomes are more predictable.

Quality of herbs will vary according to many factors, including growing conditions, age at harvest, time of harvest, handling after harvesting, and storage. This has led to a preference among veterinary herbalists for use of products certified as organic. Reputable products should have an expiry date printed on the label.

Can Herbal Therapy be Combined with Conventional Veterinary Medicine?

Herbal Supplements can be combined with other forms of treatment if the appropriate precautions are taken.

Specific Herbal Therapy for Certain Diseases, however, can include very potent herbs, and caution must be used when combining them with other treatments such as drugs, homeopathic remedies, and acupuncture, since these treatments can either potentiate or negate the effects of each other. If your pet is receiving herbal treatment from a practitioner other than your regular veterinarian, make sure both individuals are kept updated about the ongoing treatment in order to provide optimal care to your pet.

Herbal treatment of serious disease in animals without veterinary training is not advised.

To find out more about Veterinary Herbal Therapy, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, consult the Alternative Veterinary Medicine website at www.altvetmed.org, or the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association at www.vbma.org. General information about herbs and herbal treatment issues can also be found at www.ars-grin.gov/duke/, www.herbmed.org and www.consumerlab.com.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Zonram Liao D.V.M.Dr. Zonram Liao D.V.M. is a Southern California native, and earned his undergraduate degree from University of California, San Diego before obtaining his veterinary degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is not only a firm believer in the use of supportive care supplements to improve the health and happiness of his patients, but also is a strong advocate of the benefits of preventive care medicine for his patients as well. During his free time, Dr. Liao enjoys spending his time outdoors fishing and hiking, playing basketball, watching movies, cooking, traveling, and trying new foods.

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