The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion (Lyons Press, 2018) by Amy K. Fewell helps beginners and experts alike make the most of their homegrown herbs. This guide takes readers through the basics of using herbs in their home. Fewell speaks from experience, after growing her own herbs for years. The following excerpt is her advice on using herbs for your dog’s health.
My biggest “ah-ha” moment in terms of farm dogs came from watching our Black Mouth Cur named Delilah. She had come down with a urinary tract infection, as many female dogs do. I had given her one antibiotic capsule but, hours later, I noticed she was outside chowing down on my echinacea plants.
I began to freak out a bit. My precious echinacea was being destroyed by a crazy dog. After noticing that each time she went outside she’d start eating echinacea leaves, I realized that nature was actually at work right in front of me. Delilah was self-medicating.
Because Delilah is closer to a wild dog in the gene pool than our goofy Labrador Retriever, Samson, she hasn’t completely lost touch with nature like he has after years of breeding for conformation.
I didn’t give Delilah any more antibiotics and watched her closely. She rested frequently, ate echinacea three times a day on her own, and within seven days she was completely healed. As an herbalist, I felt honored to have witnessed this so closely firsthand.
This simply proved my theory that if given the proper natural tools, animals can heal themselves in many situations. While I lost three echinacea plants in the process, I witnessed something far greater at work.
The Native Americans used echinacea as a natural antibiotic, something we often don’t think of when it comes to how we use it today. But very clearly, it can be just as effective today as it was back then. At least, Delilah thought so, and she was right.
We don’t give our dogs herbs every single day. A few times a week seems to be the norm. I find myself adding garlic powder, turmeric powder, and powdered echinacea leaves to their bowls most often. We found that switching them over to a completely grain-free diet helped eliminate a lot of their former health issues. There are many herbs you can offer your canine friends throughout the week—you can sprinkle these herbs, fresh or dried, in their feed, or make snacks out of them. Keep in mind that a little bit of these herbs goes a long way and sometimes powdered is best.
• St. John’s Wort
You can purchase herbal dog treats online, but why not make them at home? Your pups will love these treats and get an immunity boost all at the same time.
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• 3 tablespoons coconut oil
• 1 farm fresh egg
• 1-1/2 cups einkorn flour (or a gluten-free flour)
• 1/2 ounces astragalus root, powdered
• 1/2 ounces echinacea root, powdered
• 2 tsp garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and egg in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Combine flour and herbs in a separate bowl, then combine with wet mixture. Mix completely. Mixture should feel moist but not too wet.
4. Roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into treat shapes.
5. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 20–30 minutes, or until crispy. Let cool completely.
6. Store in an airtight container in the pantry or fridge for up to two weeks. They will last longer in the fridge.
Dehydrating thin slices of meat, liver, heart, or other organs from chickens, venison, bison, or beef can prove to be a very effective way of administering herbs to your farm dog. Play around with some of the herbs and meats mentioned in this recipe.
• 2 ounces of powdered herbs
• 1–2 pounds meat or animal organ of choice
1. Preheat dehydrator to 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix up herbs in a container.
3. Cut meat into 1/4-inch slices. Douse each piece in the powdered herbs.
4. Lay in a single layer on dehydrator racks. Dry for 6–8 hours or until crispy. They may be slightly leathery, but must be completely dry all the way through.
5. Store in an airtight container for up to six months. Store in freezer for up to one year.
• Internal Livestock Organs (liver, heart, tongue)
Our dogs are constantly running about without a care in the world, which normally means they don’t realize they’ve cut their foot or have fleas all over them until it’s too late. We breathed a sigh of relief when we realized there were homemade products that worked just as well as over-the-counter ones. Here are some products you may want to keep on hand, or at least in mind, for your farmstead dog.
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