Echinacea Benefits for Dogs

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Overview

Echinacea Benefits for Dogs

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.

Is Echinacea Safe for Dogs?

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.

Common Uses in Dogs

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.

When To Give Echinacea To Dogs

It is suggested that echinacea be given to dogs:

  • Immediately after exposure to an acute illness or at the first sign of an infection. For example, when the dog is exposed to kennel cough, or a communicable disease, or you feel that the dog is coming down with something. In these cases, give echinacea in large amounts (double or triple the usual dosages) for short periods of time (no more than 2 weeks).
  • On a regular basis as an immune support. In this case, add small amounts of the herb to the dog's food once every 3-4 days.

Which Form of Echinacea and How Much to Give 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.

References
J.A. Duke, The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing (Rodale Books, 2000).
R. Kidd, Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Dog Care (Storey Publishing, 2000).
M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Herbs for Pets (Bowtie Press, 1999).