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I am sure many of us have already been using the herb echinacea when our immune systems need a boost, or when we feel that we are on the verge of catching a cold. But did you know that this herb is also very beneficial to our dogs?
Echinacea is best known for its immune-boosting power, which comes from various constituents (e.g. flavonoids, essential oils, polysaccharides, and more) in the plant. All these constituents work synergistically and at different levels to help enhance immunity and support disease resistance in the body.
In addition, echinacea also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Echinacea is generally safe for dogs, with one exception.
As this herb stimulates immune functions and is complementary to a healthy immune system, it should NOT be used on dogs with immune systems that are already overly-active and functioning abnormally, such as those suffering from autoimmune diseases, leukemia, or diabetes.
Since echinacea is most effective in balancing the immune system and has a mild, direct effect against bacteria, viruses, and yeasts, it is therefore a good herb to use to fight against various infectious diseases, such as kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and so on.
However, the timing of administering the herb is important as its effectiveness depends on a relatively healthy immune system. Therefore, it has to be administered to your dog at the first onset of infectious symptoms, otherwise, the effect will be greatly compromised.
If an infection has already set in, this herb can still be used in conjunction with other herbs, such as goldenseal, or Oregon grape.
In addition, echinacea benefits dogs who have weak immune systems and are always susceptible to acute bacterial or viral infections.
It is suggested that echinacea be given to dogs:
This herb does not taste good, so perhaps the easiest way to give the herb to dogs is to use a glycerine-based tincture. Mix the tincture well with the dog's food. Do not give gel capsules because dogs have shorter digestive tracts, so these capsules often pass through the GI tract undigested.
Dosage depends on the needs and size of the dog, but a conservative rule is to give 12-25 drops of the tincture 3 times a day.