Treating animals

‘My dog’s got mange.’ ‘My horse is under the weather.’ ‘What have you got for calming an anxious cat?’ Animals don’t have the NHS, so all those handed-down herbal remedies are still going the rounds, and people quite often ask me for advice about what to try.
Vet medicine is expensive, so people fall back on their own ingenuity, just as they always did before there was free healthcare for humans in the UK. The range of supplements and ‘natural’ remedies for animals is vast. But strictly speaking, it’s not legal to treat an animal unless the vet has given his or her permission; in that sense, animals are more protected from quackery than we are. So I can make suggestions, but I can’t take pets as patients.
That said, there is plenty you can do with herbs to improve the general health of your pets or farm animals. Even carnivores like cats and dogs need some vegetable matter in their diets, which they would get from eating the stomach and gut of their natural prey. And commercial pet food is a long way from freshly-killed meat; indeed, most brands of dried food are mainly cereal, and that’s not an easy food for carnivores. Give them ‘wet’ food, and mix in some dried herbs like thyme, parsley or marjoram from time to time. If you do nothing else, you’ll be giving your pet the best chance of a long and healthy life.

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