Making sure your garden and home is pet-friendly
In different parts of the world, there are plants that can be toxic to dogs. When looking for a property, remember to make sure that the plants in the garden, is not toxic. Azaleas, Lilies, Daffodils, Geraniums, Sago Palms, Tulips, Hyacinths and Peonies, can be toxic if ingested. Some fertilizers and mulch can be just as dangerous, for example cocoa bean mulch.
Plants to look out for if you have a cat, are Azaleas, Chrysanthemums (also simply called mums), Daffodils, Hydrangeas, Iris bulbs, Ivy (both the English ivy and Ivy Arum), Lilies, Marigolds and Wisteria. All countries have a list of toxic- and non-toxic plants, which you can easily obtain from a vet or the like. The above is just a drop in the ocean and it can differ, depending where you live. For those of you who have a cat, make sure to find out which houseplants are safe as well.
Luckily there are many other plants, flowers and the like, that is not only pet-friendly, but have many purposes (both for animals and humans). These are herbs. For example; an herbal infusion of rosemary and/or tansy (which also repels ants), and/or pennyroyal, can help to control ticks and fleas. Add the freshly chopped herbs to boiling water and let it cool, then lightly spray it onto the affected area. Catnip is loved by all cats, because the leaves release a fragrance similar to cat pheromones (which have a euphoric effect). It is also a great plant to use, to keep your cat in the garden and not pester the neighbours. Catnip is not only used for cats, but can also be used as a flea and tick repellent, for your dog! You can place some sprigs under your dog’s bed, or rub it onto your dog’s coat, when you were walking out in the bush / veld.
Cats love catmint as well as cat grass. Both are good for their digestive systems. Dog grass, known as prairie cordgrass, is a wonderful mineral supplement for your dog. Other herbs that is wonderful for digestive problems (especially in older pets), are fennel and mint. Struggling with worms? Add some yarrow, thyme and oregano, to your pet’s food.
Pets that suffer from arthritis or inflammation, can benefit when herbs such as feverfew, comfrey leaves, celery, parsley and/or yarrow, is finely chopped and added to their food, in small quantities. Inflammation is often caused by a diet that is too acidic. Adding these herbs, will counter that and help to alkalize the digestive system.
Even if your pet doesn’t suffer from any ailment, it is always a good idea to give them a tonic that will keep them healthy. Parsley, comfrey leaves, pennywort, borage and yarrow, are all tonic herbs, that promote general health. Finely chop the leaves and add a few drops to their food or gravy once a week. Alternatively, you can make a mild herbal tea with the chopped herbs, which you pour over their food. To keep their skin soft, add a teaspoon of olive oil over their food; at least twice a week.
Chamomile, lavender and lemon balm, have a calming effect on both animals and humans alike. German chamomile is the best general purpose calming herb. If you have a pet that doesn’t like being put into a kennel, stay at home with a stranger, or is scared of fireworks (most are as it hurts their ears), then use the chamomile flowers, chopped, in small quantities in their food or gravies. An infusion can also be made and added to your pet’s water. Lavender, as an essential oil, is wonderful to calm everyone’s nerves – including yours! Never rub it onto your pet’s skin. Instead; sprinkle a few drops onto a piece of cardboard and place it near the bedding. A lavender cushion, or sprigs placed next to / around the bedding, can also work. Lemon balm works well for dogs with digestive problems, separation anxiety, sleep disorders, stress or irritability. You can add 1 teaspoon per 7kg of body weight, of finely chopped leaves, to your dog’s food.
Another important addition to your pet’s diet, is oil. Whether you use fish oil or olive oil, doesn’t matter – it depends, of course, on the animal! A teaspoon, poured over your pet’s food, is a wonderful way to keep their coats shiny and their skin soft. Hemp- and Cannabis oils are also great to use; not just as an added addition, but also for any ailments and general well-being.
The list of herbal remedies is something that can be added to your pet’s diet; just like vegetable peels or vegetables. Herbal remedies are natural products, but it is not there to replace a visit to the vet. Check-ups is always good. When using herbal remedies and/or deciding which plants to have indoors and outdoors, please always research first. Remember to make sure to use the botanical name, when researching herbs and, if in doubt, ask! Just like plants, some herbs can be toxic to your pets as well.
Take care of them like you would take care of yourself and remember; all they want and give is love!