The long, smoldering hot days in the Northern hemisphere referred to as the Dog Days of Summer can be attributed to the tilt of the Earth which allows for the sun’s light to hit the Earth at a more direct angle for a longer period of time throughout the day. This time of year has actually nothing to do with dogs except for the fact that the brightest star in the Canis Major (Large Dog) constellation named Sirius - “Dog Star” by the ancient Romans was believed to contribute to the heat of the sun during the hottest days of the summer. The ancient Romans were sweating in their togas from about July 24th to August 24th. Today, because of the shifting and drifting of the constellations we experience the canine assigned effect from about July 3rd to August 11th.
Dogs may have had nothing to do with the naming of the season, but they, like us, will most likely desire some respite from the heat. While we are whipping up smoothies (try these herb smoothies) and cool concoctions for the peeps in our family, we can also whip up some herbal wonders for our faithful companions.
Click here to download the full-sized Herbs for Animals Chart.
Herbs can be used for their nutrient values as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Herbs can also be used to help prevent or treat disease. Herbs may be added their food and used in topical applications to repel pesky mosquitos, ticks and fleas. Herbal shampoos, soaks and sprays can offer relief from itchy, irritated skin.
The following recipes will include medicinal and aromatic herbs, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. If you are concerned about your dog developing diarrhea from eating a diet containing these new foods, please note that fruits and vegetables that are high in soluble fiber help prevent diarrhea. Soluble fibers attract water and in so doing form a gelatinous mass which slows down digestion and help control hunger.
When introducing these foods to your dog for the first time, start with very small amounts and introduce one new food or herb at a time. You will want to watch for any allergic reaction. You may increase the serving size as your dog shows that he/she tolerates the new food well. It is also important to finely chop or gently steam the fruits and vegetables when adding them to your dog’s regular dog food for easier digestion.
Suggested serving size:
• Small dogs: 1 tbsp
• Medium size dogs: 1/8 Cup
• Large dogs: 1/3 -1/2 Cup
Just as herbs, fruits and vegetables are good for us, they are also good for our dogs. By feeding our dogs a good quality dog food and including herbal teas and smoothies we optimize the nutrients in their diet and help boost their immune system, while insuring that they stay hydrated. Some fruits and vegetables to consider: apples (seeded and chopped), apricots, bananas, berries, coconut, oranges, melon, pineapple and watermelon, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cilantro cucumber, dandelion, Kale, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, pumpkin, spinach, squash, zucchini.
A few herbs that are good for dogs include aloe vera, basil, burdock, calendula, caraway seeds, chamomile, cilantro, cinnamon, curcumin, Echinacea, fennel seeds, ginger, green tea, hawthorn, lemon balm, licorice, mullein, neem, nettles, parsley, rosemary, slippery elm, St. John’s wort, turmeric (more on turmeric for dogs here).
Blue Bow Wow Berry Boost
• 1 cup plain yogurt or cottage cheese
• 1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
• 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
• 1 tsp. fresh chopped parsley
Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Serve in a dish or freeze in an ice cube tray for quick refreshers.
Antioxidant Green Tea Smoothie
• 1 tsp. decaffeinated green tea
• 1 cup hot water
• 1 cup plain yogurt
• 1 apple, chopped with all seeds removed
• ½ cup frozen banana sliced
• ½ tsp. cinnamon
Directions: Place 1 tsp. green tea in teapot. Boil water and pour over tea, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temp. Place all other ingredients in a blender or food processor along with cooled tea and blend until smooth. Serve in dish or freeze in ice cube tray.
Strawberry Watermelon Frozen Treats with lemon Balm and Basil
• 1/2 pound cleaned and hulled strawberries
• 2 cups chopped watermelon
• 4 sprigs fresh basil
• 2 tsp. fresh or dried lemon balm
Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
Refreshing Sore Paw Soak for Overheated Hounds
• 1 gallon of water
• 1 cup of organic apple cider vinegar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 10 drops of peppermint essential oil
• 2 tbsp calendula flowers
• 2 tbsp of chamomile flowers
• 2 tbsp of golden seal
Allow the soak to sit for 30 minutes before using.
Soak doggie’s paws for 30-45 seconds, pat dry
Lemon, Garlic Rescue – Mosquito/Tick Repellent
• 1 cup water
• 2 cups organic apple cider vinegar
• 3 tbsp. almond oil
• 3 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
• 3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon
Directions: Pour all ingredients in a spray bottle, shake well. This can be sprayed on dog’s fur before heading outside.
Lavender Leave Me Alone Spray
Pour the following ingredients in a spray bottle:
• 1 cup water
• 5 drops lavender oil
• 4 drops tea tree oil
For more recipes and remedies for your furry friends, read this article, Basic Herbal Remedies for Pets, and download the FREE Herbs for Animals chart for a list of 20 herbs to use regularly with your pets.
Herbs can be used safely and effectively, helping to eliminate the use of harsh chemicals. Expanding your pet’s diet to include foods from the plant kingdom will insure their good health. Learn more about herbs and plants that we can consume and use as food and medicine for our families and our pets on our Herbal Blog or in our Online Herbalism Programs. Learning about, and using one plant at a time (7 methods here), or becoming familiar with the plants growing in your own backyard are very good first steps. These are only a few ideas that can help your dog stay cool during the dog days of summer!
Marlene Adelmann is the Founder and Director of the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and the Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.
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