A-Z Guide to Herbs and Essential Oils for Dogs and Cats

A fact sheet providing brief A-Z details of some of the more commonly used medicinal herbs and essential oils.

AGRIMONY (Agrimonia eupatoria)                     Parts used: Aerial parts

This is a good herbal remedy for the digestive system in general. Agrimony can help with both colitis and diarrhoea. It can also help indigestion and as a bitter tonic will help stimulate appetite.

ALFALFA (Medicago sativa)                              Parts used: Tops

Helps cleanse the blood and assists the body in the assimilation of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Contains a good range of minerals and acts as a tonic to the digestion.

BARBERRY (Berberis vulgaris)                         Parts used: Bark

Used in the treatment of liver problems, especially where congestion and jaundice are present. Promotes the flow of bile, stimulates digestion and appetite and eases constipation.

BARLEYGRASS (Hordeum vulgare)             Parts used: Leaves

Can help with cell repair, scavenge damaging free radicals from the blood, reduce inflammation, improve the condition of the coat and skin and enhance overall vitality.

BEARBERRY (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)               Parts used: Leaves

Acts on the urinary tract, toning and soothing the lining of the bladder. Its antiseptic and diuretic properties help in the treatment of cystitis, bladder stones and gravel, incontinence and kidney failure.

BLACKBERRY                                                Essential oil

Useful for patches of weepy eczema where it will help heal the skin.

BLOOD ROOT                                                Essential oil

An oil with anti-fungal properties.

BUCHU (Agathosma betulina)                           Parts used: Leaves

Useful in the treatment of cystitis, nephritis, bladder weakness and prostate problems.

CAMPHOR                                                     Essential oil

An oil with several useful properties including anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

CARROT                                                       Essential oil

Reduces skin inflammation and limits bleeding.

CASCARA SAGRADA (Rhamnus purshiana)         Parts used: Dried bark

Tones the digestive system, encouraging peristalsis. Its main use is in the treatment of constipation.

CAYENNE (Capsicum minimum)                        Parts used: Fruit

Improves the circulation and blood flow to all the organs of the body including the kidneys. Can also improve appetite and ease colic.

CEDARWOOD                                                Essential oil

An oil which helps with greasy skin and also has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.

CHAMOMILE (Matricaria recutita)                      Parts used: Flowers, Essential oil

A safe calming herb that can be used to help relieve anxiety especially in combination with other herbs. The essential oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Helps soothe sore skin and relieves skin irritation.

CLEAVERS or CLIVERS (Galium aparine)            Parts used: Aerial parts

Cleavers acts mainly on the lymphatic system, acting as a tonic and to cleanse the blood, indirectly supporting the immune system. Cleavers also strengthens the liver and can help with urinary tract problems such as cystitis and bladder stones or gravel.

COMFREY (Syphytum officinale)                       Parts used: Leaves

Comfrey is well known for its healing properties and can help with both bowel and respiratory problems.

COUCHGRASS (Agropyron repens)                    Parts used: Root

Soothing to the urinary tract and used to help with problems such as cystitis.

DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)                  Parts used: Roots & leaves

One of the oldest medicinal herbs. Useful in treating all liver problems including jaundice. Its powerful diuretic effect can help relieve fluid retention and its cleansing action will help remove toxins.

ELDERBERRY (Sambucus nigra)                        Parts used: Berries & leaves

A remedy with many uses but mainly used for respiratory problems. Elderberry can also improve the pigmentation of the coat and skin and is useful in anaemia. Rich in vitamin C and iron.

EUCALYPTUS (Eucalyptus globulus)                  Essential oil

Used internally in very small amounts as a treatment for fever and cystitis.

EVENING PRIMROSE (Oenothera biennis)          Parts used: Extracted oil

A good source of essential fatty acids, especially Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). Used widely to help with skin conditions, including excess moulting, allergies, and where the skin or coat is in poor condition. May also be helpful with some forms of arthritis.

GARLIC (Allium sativum)                                Parts used: Bulb/essential oil

Garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral actions. Also helps guard against parasites. The oil is excreted through the lungs, making garlic valuable in the treatment of bronchitis and catarrh. Garlic can help stabilise the gut bacteria following an upset and is also known to help control blood sugar levels in diabetic animals.

GINGER (Zingiber officinali)                                      Parts used: Root

Ginger acts on the stomach promoting the flow of gastric juices and thereby assisting the digestion. It also eases problems due to excess acid, flatulence (wind) and tummy pain (colic). One of its main effects is in helping relieve sickness (nausea) both from travel sickness and from tummy bugs.

JUNIPER (Juniperus communis)                        Parts used: Dried berries

Juniper has diuretic and antiseptic properties which can help in the treatment of cystitis and urethritis. Used externally it will help the skin to heal.

KAVA KAVA (Piper methysticum)                      Parts used: Roots & rhizome

An antiseptic with strong diuretic properties promoting urine flow. Indicated in cases of cystitis, incontinence and in prostate problems.

LAVENDER                                                    Parts used: Essential oil

A soothing and calming oil to help heal sore inflamed areas. Also helps deter fleas.

LIQUORICE (Glycyrrhiza glabra)                       Parts used: Dried root

Has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. Used to treat bronchitis and other respiratory problems. Its soothing action can help with digestive upsets such as vomiting, diarrhoea and colitis.

MARSHMALLOW (Althea officinalis)                   Parts used: Root

As a demulcent marshmallow helps soothe mucus membranes. Helps with digestive problems including gastritis vomiting, diarrhoea and colitis.

MUSK MALLOW                                                Essential oil

Has useful anti-inflammatory properties, reducing pain and discomfort.

NETTLES (Urtica dioica)                                   Parts used: Aerial parts

Known to help rheumatism, arthritis, eczema and dermatitis. A mild diuretic and useful in urinary and kidney problems.  Helps to cleanse the blood of toxins, boosting the immune system.

PARSLEY (Petroselinum crispum)                      Parts used: Tap root

A rich source of vitamin C and iron. A general blood tonic and diuretic, helping with conditions such as bladder stones and gravel, prostate problems and joint stiffness.

PARSLEY PIERT (Aphanes arvensis)                  Parts used: Aerial parts

Soothes the lining of the bladder and can help with cystitis. As a mild diuretic it is also useful in the prevention of bladder stones and gravel.

PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)                        Parts used: Aerial parts

Eases flatulence and colic and helps digestion. The essential oil in peppermint soothes the stomach lining, helping with vomiting and nausea. Also used to prevent travel sickness.

POKE ROOT                                                   Essential oil

Traditionally used to help eliminate mites and other parasitic skin conditions.

RASPBERRY LEAF (Rubus idaeus)                      Parts used: Leaves & fruit

Well known for its effect on the reproductive tract. Assists whelping by strengthening the pelvic muscles, toning the uterus and reducing the risk of haemorrhage. Also indicated in false pregnancy in bitches.

SEAWEED (Fucus vesiculosus)                          Parts used: Whole plant

Rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements, especially iodine and potassium. Used to improve coat condition and growth. Cases of arthritis and rheumatism may also benefit. Indicated in obesity and where the thyroid is under active.

SKULLCAP (Scutellaria laterifolia)                      Parts used: Aerial parts

Has a gentle, sedative and calming effect. Useful in treating problems such as hysteria, excitability and epilepsy.

SLIPPERY ELM (Ulmus fulva)                           Parts used: Bark

A food in its own right but especially good for chronic digestive problems.

SWEET FLAG                                                 Essential oil

Known for its insecticidal, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties.

TEA TREE                                                     Essential oil

Well known for its antiseptic properties. Also has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity.

THYME (Thymus vulgaris)                                Parts used: Tops

A natural antiseptic. Good for digestive problems, including diarrhoea, stomach problems, flatulence and poor appetite.

VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis)                       Parts used: Roots & rhizome

Often combined with skullcap in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, excitability and nervousness. Good for ring shyness.

VERVAIN (Verbena officinalis)                          Parts used: Leaves

Vervain strengthens the nervous system and helps calm anxious animals. It is especially good for calming hysterical behaviour and is thought to have some effect in treating epilepsy. It works well alongside the other calming herbs.

WATERCRESS (Nasturtium officinalis)                Parts used: Stems and leaves

Important nutritionally as well as a tonic for the digestion. Contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C and E. Watercress is also an important source of iodine, manganese, copper, calcium and iron

WHEATGRASS (Triticum aestivum)                   Parts used: Leaves

Contains a wide range of vitamins and nearly all of the minerals needed for good health as well as chlorophyll and a range of enzymes. The health benefits are varied and include cleansing the lymphatic system, acting as a blood tonic, removing toxins from cells and supporting the liver and kidneys.

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