You needn't be too concerned with exact amounts when giving your pet fresh or dried herbs, according to Randy Kidd, PhD, DVM, and author of Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Dog Care (Storey Books, 2000) and Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Cat Care (Storey Books, 2000). Absorption is limited with whole herbs compared with extracts. Plus, pets normally won't chow down on herbs like they do on kibble. Kidd recommends giving pets anywhere from a pinch to a teaspoon of fresh or dried herbs daily, depending on their size. To increase an herb's effectiveness, Kidd also advises taking breaks—for example, he suggests adding an herb to a pet's diet for three weeks and then skipping it for three days.

Recommendation*

Rationale

Notes

Echinacea
(Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea)
small animals: 1 pinch large animals: 1 teaspoon

Echinacea balances the immune system.

Sprinkle the fresh or dried herb over food.

Eyebright
(Euphrasia spp)
1 capsule 2x/day orally

When taken orally, eyebright works as an astringent and anti-inflammatory.

Use an herbal tincture or decoction as an eyewash for irritation and infection.

Licorice root
(Glycyrrhiza glabra)
small animals: 1 pinch large animals: 1 teaspoon

Licorice is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiarthritic, tonic and adaptogenic (enhances the body's ability to adapt to negative conditions).

You can find licorice in powder or whole root form. Grind the root and sprinkle over food.

Wild oat (Avena spp)
small animals: 1 pinch large animals: 1 teaspoon

To balance the nervous system and ease stress, look to oats.

Sprinkle whole or ground grains over food. You can also give your pet 1 teaspoon­1 tablespoon/day whole cooked commercial oats mixed with food.

Sources: Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Dog Care and Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Cat Care by Randy Kidd, PhD, DVM (Storey Books, 2000).