A number of excellent herbal immune supplements for dogs are now available. Each year, the variety of products seems to increase, as more pet owners become aware of these natural remedies, which don’t have the side effects often associated with prescription drugs.
At this point, natural remedies are all we use on our 14-year-old dog. I’m convinced that reducing his toxic burden, and feeding him a grain-free diet, are largely responsible for his longevity. (Plus, he’s a happy guy, with a pretty stress-free life.)
People typically use immune-boosting supplements for elderly pets, or if their dog suffers from a chronic illness. Because I’m not an animal health professional, I can’t tell you what supplements to give for what condition. This is something you’ll have to discuss with your vet. (With any luck, you’ve already found a holistic practitioner who advocates natural healing.)
But I can tell you about the various immune supplements available, and what they’re designed for. The good news is that many of the plant-based medicines that humans take are now available for animals. You can even even find medicinal mushrooms for dogs. Fungi formulas for people are generally taken to boost the immune system.
Natural Health Supplements for Pets
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It appears there’s a small revolution taking place, similar to what we’re seeing with human health. Overall, interest in natural remedies is at levels we haven’t seen in about a century. Up until the early 1900’s, people relied upon herbal medicine. But these time-tested remedies were largely forgotten once pharmaceuticals became available. Now, faced with the horrifying prospect of drug-resistant bacteria, plant-based remedies are getting a lot more respect.
In 2009, the latest figures available, Americans spent nearly $40 billion on alternative medicine. This includes only out-of-pocket costs, not covered by insurance. The amount spent on supplements equaled about a third of the total spent on prescription drugs, according to a National Center for Health Statistics survey.
This mirrors what’s happening with pets. Each year, about $14.39 billion is spent on over-the-counter medicals and supplements. Although not everything in this category is natural, a lot of the spending is clearly going towards herbal remedies, judging by the number of products available. (This figure was furnished by the American Pet Products Association).
Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs
When you buy a product made just for dogs, it takes the guesswork out of whether all the ingredients are safe. Certain plants are toxic to dogs. That’s why you have to be very careful about giving your pet people remedies. Also, dog remedies generally come in lower dosages, usually along with instructions about how much to give according to weight.
Fungi have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a health tonic. Some people with life-threatening and chronic illnesses take medicinal mushrooms for immune support. BIXBI Pet Superfood shown below is made from eight organic mushroom varieties, which include Coriolus versicolor, Agaricus blazei, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, Cordyceps, King Trumpet and Lion’s Mane. All of the ingredients are USDA-certified and sourced in the United States.
Immune System Boosters for Dogs
Herbal remedies are also becoming increasingly popular for dogs. Many are designed specifically for immune support. As a pet owner who is passionate about natural health, I love the idea of herbs for dogs. However, the thought of giving my dog a human formula scares me, so I like the assurance that someone else has researched the safety of whether this particular blend is good for animals. Having a dog-safe dose also minimizes the risk of dosing errors.
(Check with your own vet before giving your dog an herbal remedy, especially if your pet is already taking a prescription medication. Also, don’t give herbal remedies to a pregnant female. Cats metabolize things different, so never give a dog supplement to a cat, unless the label clearly says it’s designed for this purpose.)
Even though the dog supplement market continues to grow, there will aren’t a lot of truly natural products out there. Some of the herbal remedies may contain large quantities of synthetic vitamins. I wouldn’t take most of these myself, nor do I want to give them to my dog.
Dr. Harvey’s Immune System Supplement contains no artificial ingredients. This herbal blend is made from spirulina, lecithin, nutritional yeast, garlic, flax, alfalfa, kelp, astragalus, suma, echinacea, oregon grape root, dandelion root, fo-ti root, gingko biloba, gotu kola, pau d’arco, rosemary, ginger, thyme, turmeric, red clover, milk thistle and licorice root.
The only ingredient that might be of concern is the lecithin. If it’s made from soy, it could contain genetically modified ingredients. However, it were my dog, and he were sick, and nothing else was working, I’d weigh the risks and benefits.Dr. Harvey’s is one of my favorite companies selling animal supplements. It was founded decades ago by Dr. Harvey Cohen, an animal health expert.
I like the fact that E-Mune boost also contains a lot of herbs. Herbalists generally recommend taking multiple herbs together, as the individual ingredients combine to create a synergy. Each plant seems to make the others more effective.
Natural Treatments for Dogs
Just a generation ago, before the Internet became widely used, we were largely dependent upon our veterinarians for animal health advice. Now, pet owners are free to research various non-toxic approaches to animal care. They can also print out and share online resources with their vet. If a practitioner isn’t open to natural healing, they’re also free to take their business elsewhere.
Unfortunately, just as with human doctors, many vets are still tied to the pharmaceutical model. This means writing a prescription to alleviate a symptom. That’s why I always encourage my readers to find someone with a more holistic mindset. It’s always best to do this when your pet is healthy, without a crisis brewing.
Here’s an example why. Recently, our elderly dog developed conjunctivitis. I planned to bring him to the vet as soon as possible. It was late in the afternoon, so I booked an evening appointment. Meanwhile, I managed to get in touch with our homeopath, who prescribed a remedy. Within a half hour, the problem was resolved, so I cancelled the vet visit.