We sip on chamomile tea to soothe our nerves or brew a refreshing peppermint tea to ease our upset stomach and than sink into the oceans of dreams. In the kitchen we add rosemary, thyme, oregano, ginger, mint (and much more) to enhance the taste of our meals and herbal infusions, botanicals, essential oils accompany our personal care products.

So, why shouldn't our canine companions benefit from some of Mother Nature's gifts as well? Herbs, plants and plant essences can be used for dogs internally and externally, but please read my *warnings and suggestions at the end of this article.

Holistic care needs moderation and should be considered a complementary therapy only. Regular vet visits and grooming, a very health diet, obedience training, plenty of workouts and playtime, can make any puppy grow into a healthy, happy and a well-rounded dog. Using herbs, aromatherapy and other natural substance in conjunction with above canine-regime will complete and complement your canine's health.

Since external use is one of the gentlest and the safest way you can use herbs, other botanical goodies and essential oils on dogs, I have decided to share some simple recipes with you in this article.

Doggie Body and Coat Tea: Herbal teas make wonderful rinses for canine coats and I will give a few recipes for you to try out and of course when comfortable you can start adding your own touches.

1 Tbs of organic cider vinegar
2 cups of herbal tea (chamomile, rosemary or peppermint)
Nettle, comfrey leaf, calendula leaf (loose herbs)
A few drops of glycerin (optional)

Boil the water and poor it over the tea bag of your choice, cover it and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. If you are using a tea bag and some loose dry or fresh herbs, you have to strain the whole thing when it cools.

If you are using roots, seeds or barks (hard plant parts) such as ginger, fennel, valerian root, soak your them in cool water overnight and than boil them for 10-15 minutes. Than follow the above steps.

Once it's cold add organic vinegar and glycerin. Dilute this solution with 1-2 cups of bottled water. Use this mixture as the last rinse water for your dog. You can wipe your dog's face with it as well. It's light and the scent is so mild that it will not bother her/his sensitive nose.

You can also put this doggie body tea in a spray bottle without diluting it and mist lightly while brushing your dog. I use both peppermint and chamomile all year around and it's makes our German Shepherd's coat smell great and helps the itchies she gets after hiking and excessive swimming.

Make sure to label (date, ingredients used) and refrigerate left over tea.

Doggie Aromatherapy: I do not suggest adding any essential oils directly to water, as they will not mix water and will rise and stay on the surface. On the other hand you can use essential oils diluted with base oils such as olive, safflower, jojoba, almond or any other vegetable oil and use it externally on your dogs.

5 drop of your choice of essential oil 10 ml of carrier oil (olive, jojoba, almond etc.) Mix well and apply away from head (ear, eye, nose) area always. You can use this for dogs and yourself too.

Citronella and lemongrass mixture with your choice of base oil "carrier oil" would make a great insect repellent.

Rose (Rosa damascena), Ylang Ylang (Cananga Odorata), Clary Sage (Salvia sclare) diluted with base oil should help taming tension for your over active dog about to take a trip to the vet or groomer or yourself during a stressful event!

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), Peppermint (Mentha piperita) with a base oil will help itchy skin, dry or sluggish skin and coat and helps fight against skin parasites.

Lavender and Marjoram diluted with a base oil can help tight, cramping, sore muscles, etc. Add a few drops on your palm and rub gently. Excellent for working dogs and people too!

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) with light base oil will help eczema, bruises, and cracked or chapped skin. You can use it on minor cuts as well. Niaouli Essential Oil (Melaleuca viridiflora) can be included to treat viral infections as well. Please be cautions using certain essential oils on pregnant or seizure prone dogs or people. I say this though I know all is dose-related. Using herbs, essential oils, hydrosols and all other natural therapies need to be respected and used with care as you would all medication.

If in doubt always use your best judgment and always ask your trusted vet. There are many more essential oils and certainly even more combinations one can use, but as you try a few yourselves you can learn to experiment and come up with wonderful concoctions of your own.

Just keep in mind to use essential oils externally, always keep them away from face, eyes and nose and never use them on or around cats, birds, ferrets, etc. I will strongly suggest that you find a few good aromatherapy books and read about essential oil safety first so that you do not fear it, but respect it!

You can view some of my favorite books and suggested suppliers at our website.

Infusing, a safe and simple alternative: You can infuse base oils such as olive oil, grapeseed oil (almond oil etc.) with herbs, leaves, and roots, which you can use on your dog without fear. Best of all you can use these infusions on the whole family; you can cook with it as well as using it in your favorite bath recipe.

Prepare enough herbs to make one cup total. Crush them well or you can use a blender to chop them. Place them in a jar (I use a mason jar.) Get your choice of vegetable oil (I prefer olive and hazelnut, but omit hazelnut in case of nut allergies). Slowly pour the oil just enough to cover your crushed herbs. Close the lid as tight as you possibly can. I use a small thick plastic over the jar's mouth and than close the lid to make it more airtight.

Try to keep your herb jar in a warm place about 75 degrees for 7-10 days. I move my infusion jars near the window on sunny days and move them to the cozy warm shelves above my beloved oven!

Below are a few herbs/botanicals of my choice:

Alkanet (root), chamomile flowers, calendula petals, chickweed, comfrey root, neem, nettles, peppermint leaves, rosemary, rose blossoms or petals, St. John's Wort and yarrow. I use only organically grown and suggest that you try your first few infusions with dry botanicals at first. You can venture into fresh ones later as they do have the tendencies to go bad faster.

The combinations are endless and using natural ingredients should not be costly or very hard to make and now you can make your own canine goodies. Next time you are at your health shop look for tea bags, organic apple cider vinegar and dried herbs.

Soon you will be busy collecting mason jars, cool new herbs, flower buds and start seeing each and every herb and flower in a different light. A very powerful and healing light?

Welcome to the bewitching world of Mother Nature?

Author: Sevi Kay ?2001 Mundo L.L.C

Things To Keep In Mind: I do not use or recommend using essential oils internally and suggest you contact a holistic veterinarian to guide you in case you do. Each dog is different so always involve your trusted veterinarian when introducing a new diet as certain herbs may cause allergic reactions however natural or organic they may be.

The above recipes are for dogs only. Never use aromatherapy products on cats, birds or other exotic pets and animals. Always keep essential oils away from pets, kids and store them in a cool dark place. Never use essential oils undiluted "neat" on skin or coat.

Please consult your dog's veterinarian for possible precautions regarding all essential oils and herbs. We cannot be held liable for not including all possible side effects of these herbs,essential oils, products and recipes.

Author's Bio: 

Sevi Kay is a crafter, a former chef, a freelance writer and
translator. She is the founder of Mundo & Co! which creates eco friendly products for people and pets.