Fairfield County Edition

Don’t Kill Those Weeds!

Common Weeds May be Healthy Supplements for Pets

Before reaching for weed killer (hopefully natural and non-toxic), step back and examine the lawn for what might be a healthy addition to our pet’s diet.

One thing we should do before harvesting is ensure the plants have not been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers. In addition, don’t over-pick an area or choose plants close to the road as vehicle exhaust and oil drips may find its way to the plants. Always use clean and dried plants.

All “weeds” in a liquefied form need refrigeration and will last about two weeks. Before adding them to a pet’s diet to complement any medical concerns, discuss choices with a veterinarian. They need to be aware of anything added to the pet’s routine and may know of contraindicators that may affect ongoing treatments. In addition, be certain that any concerns that need to be addressed by a licensed veterinarian are seen to and are not misinterpreted.

Keep in mind that many botanicals may be toxic to our pets. Before adding any wild plants to a pet’s diet, first correctly identify them and check for toxicity.

These five weeds are commonly found in yards.

Dandelion: In addition to vitamins A, C, D and B complex, dandelion has iron, manganese, phosphorus, lecithin, potassium and other trace minerals. The entire plant can be used. Dandelion can bolster the immune system with its antioxidant properties; stimulate the appetite; reduce inflammation; help digestion; and improve liver, pancreas and kidney function.

To use, crush one teaspoon of dried dandelion per 20 pounds of pet and sprinkle over their food. Pets may need to relieve themselves more frequently as it is a diuretic and increases urine output.

Nettles: Only the leaves of the nettle plant are used. They contain vitamins A, B2, B9, C and E, in addition to calcium, phosphorus, beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron and protein.

In addition to overall health and blood cleansing, nettles can help with inflamed skin conditions—such as allergies and irritations—due to its antihistamine and astringent properties.

To use, steep the nettle leaves in boiling water for an hour. Pour the cooled liquid over the pet’s food.

Plantain: All parts of the plant are used. Plantain is loaded with vitamins C, A and K. It can be used topically as a poultice or salve for minor bleeding, insect bites, minor burns, contact dermatitis, inflammation and pain.

Making a poultice involves finding and cleaning four to five leaves; mashing them by chewing the leaves until they res-
emble wet grass clippings; applying to affected area and covering with gauze; and replacing once the plantain has dried.

Making a salve includes finely chopping up one cup of leaves and filling a lidded glass jar halfway; just covering the leaves with olive or coconut oil and covering up; placing in a crockpot on top of towel, filling enough water to cover half the jar and set to warm for 12-24 hours (or set at room temperature for four-six weeks); straining the oil through cheesecloth and setting aside; melting a packed tablespoon of beeswax and adding the oil; and pouring into a container and placing in a first aid kit.

To use internally for urinary tract, diarrhea and stomach disorders, chop or blend the entire plant and cover it with just enough warm water to make it soupy. Strain and keep it in the refrigerator. The usual dosage is one teaspoon per 20 pounds of dog or 10 pounds of cat.

Chickweed: All parts of the plant are used. Chickweed has a high mineral content. It can be used topically as a salve or poultice for minor skin irritations as well as internally for upper digestive tract health, inflammation, nervous system and mucous membrane lubrication.

While considered a safe plant for pets, chickweed used internally may have a laxative effect in large quantities. Keep that in mind if the pet will not have access to outdoors while owners are at work or shopping.

To use internally, juice or blend the entire plant and place it in ice cube trays. The cubes are a perfect size to add to a pet’s meals.

Cleavers: Where cleavers shine is through their ability to improve the lymphatic system. The entire plant is used and helps the body’s cells remove their waste products. It may even remove the toxic effects of anesthetics after surgery. Cleavers may hold benefit for cancer patients.

It is used as a tincture or tea by steeping the herbs for 10 minutes with one pint of water and four tablespoons of fresh or dried cleavers. Add to the pet’s food once it has cooled.

A trained herbal practitioner should prepare tinctures.

Remember that cultivating weeds instead of grass has far more benefits than that pretty lawn.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Hands and Paws Reiki for All. She can be reached at HandsAndPawsReiki.com. See ad, page 58.

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