Top 4 Herbs To Try Over Antibiotics For Your Dog
Antibiotics are a common prescription and first step that our vets will suggest our dogs take for a variety of symptoms. If your vet is prescribing antibiotics and you want to try a more gentle and holistic approach first these are my top 3 choices to look into..
Before we jump in, I want to introduce you to my "Castle" analogy of the immune system and immune supporting herbs. To read a full article on it and understand it even more in-depth, click here. In short, the "Castle" analogy.. think of the body as a castle. When invading pathogens want to invade the castle (the body) there are 3 systems in place to protect the castle.
First, there are herbs that help to build up the bodies immunity on a deep level. This happens when there is no threat around. We can use herbs like certain medicinal mushrooms and Astragalus to help build up our castle wall so when invading pathogens want to invade the castle, they simply can't because the castle wall is too tall and strong, so it's not a desirable host to invade.
Second, we have our warriors that we can send out from the castle to fight off the invading pathogens. The herbs we use in this scenaro stimulate and activate our own immune system to help fight off pathogens with our own immune response. Some examples of these herbs would be echinacea and olive leaf.
Third, we have the bombs. This is exactly how it sounds, we give specific herbs to throw from the castle out around that quite literally bomb the system to kill off the invading pathogens. The thing to be aware of is that these herbs can kill off ALL bacteria, including beneficial bacteria in the digestive system, urinary tract and vaginal tract. It is important to supplement the body back with beneficial bacteria after using a "bomb" to help build back the immune system, digestive microbiome and urinary and vaginal health so UTI's and yeast infections don't develop. Oregano oil is a prime example of a "bomb".
Now that we understand the different ways that herbs can work with our dog's immune system, let's look at alternatives for antibiotics with this theory in mind...
- Oregano oil - Oregano oil is the closest alternative to pharmaceutical antibiotics. This is because it is similar in the sense that it is like a "bomb" being thrown into the body to kill off all bacteria, good and bad. This option can still be considered a bit harsh but can be amazing for intense scenarios when the bacteria needs to be killed off quick. If you decide to utilize this option, it is important to make sure you feed your dog probiotics during and especially afterwards to help build back up the beneficial bacteria that the oregano oil killed off. Since your dog's microbiome (beneficial digestive bacteria) is the first defense of their immune system, it is important to repopulate so they can build back up their immune response and continue to support healthy digestion. Check out our Pup Probiotic for dogs here.
- Olive Leaf - Olive leaf has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It is a bit less harsh than oregano oil. Unlike oregano oil that just kills off the bacteria, olive leaf also helps to stimulate the immune system. Olive leaf is a "warrior" in our Castle Analogy. Olive leaf sends our the immune systems fighters from the castle to help kill off the invading pathogens. In this sense, olive leaf does NOT kill off your dogs beneficial bacteria in their digestive system. Olive leaf can cause some digestive upset in some dogs so start off slow and if your dog develops nausea, vomiting or other stomach upset, try another option.
- Goldenseal - Goldenseal is a plant that contains a plant chemical, berberine, which is what contains the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Goldenseal can be helpful for worms, giardia, kennel cough, influenza and digestive infections. This can be given as a glycerite extract, in capsules or in powder mixed into your dogs food. You can also find salves with goldenseal that can be helpful for topical infections and wounds. Goldenseal is best if only used for short-term periods with breaks in between. It should not be used in pregnant dogs, newborns or hypoglycemic dogs.
- Plantain leaf - Plantain leaf is a very gentle options that is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. This option helps to kill germs while also helping to speed up healing and stimulate skin growth if there is a topical injury involved. Plantain leaf can be used for topical wounds or internally for infections. You can find plantain as a glycerite or you can use capsules or loose leaf herb.
Some unique ways to prepare these herbs for our dogs are by infusing the herb within bone broth or making a tea for your dog that you mix in their food. This option is especially useful for goldenseal and plantain. Check out our blog post "12 Herbs To Make Herbal Bone Broth For You And Your Dog" and simply use either goldenseal or plantain leaf as the star herb in the recipe.