How to Give Herbs to Pets
Nature's Sunshine's herbal products and supplements have recommendations as to how much to take. Those recommendations are based on a 150-pound human. With that in mind, you can calculate how much your pet weighs and how much the dosage would be for that weight. Some formulas have precautions such as use during pregnancy, etc. Pay attention to these precautions for your pet also. Also remember that cats do not do well with essential oils. Essential oils are very potent and are to be used in moderation even with humans, so consider even a drop to be enough in some cases.
Aspirin and aspirin derivatives (i.e. white willow bark and white oak bark, salicylic acid), acetaminophen products (i.e. Tylenol), ibuprofen products (i.e. Motrin), can be fatal to cats. Do not use them. Do not give pets caffeine-containing herbs either, which definitely includes chocolate, which can be dangerous for dogs even though they like it.
Administering the herbs takes some patience if you've never done it, but you will find your own smooth process of it. It is something that you need to learn to do if you are going to have pets. Keep in mind that if you are nervous and frustrated, your pet will be the same. Unless you are very fortunate, it will take several attempts to get this process down, but this training will be of great benefit to you and your pet. Choose a product that will be easy to use with the pet you are working with.
Pilling a Cat
The best way to pill a cat is not to alarm them. They are not as likely to relax enough to swallow if they are fearful of what you are doing. When you become confident with your pilling, they will feel better about it also. Some cats you can pill while they are in their favorite resting spot, others you may have to kneel on the floor and put the cat between your knees. Rub them a bit to relax them.
If you have somebody else to help, at least for the first few times, it is easier to put the cat between their knees so you have a better angle to administer the pill. Pick up the pill with the thumb and index finger of one hand. Put the palm of your other hand on top of its head, and that thumb and index finger on either side of its mouth. Your cat's mouth should fall open as you tilt the head back. If it doesn't, gently push down on the cat's lower front teeth with your middle finger of your other hand that is holding the pill. Drop the pill in your cat's mouth as far back as you can. Let the cat lower its head just a bit as you rub it's neck and throat until the pill is swallowed.
DO NOT keep the head tilted back. Tilt your own head back and try to swallow. It doesn't work. Cats can vomit easily, so it might help to give it a cat treat or its meal after the pill. Some tuna broth or moist food would be helpful in helping the pill to dissolve and begin working.
If you are administering a capsule, it will slide down easier if you wet it first. This means that you will have to be smooth in the administration since it will be slippy in your fingers also. I preferred capsules since I can approach the cat with the capsule in my mouth, rub and get the cat in position, take the pill out of my mouth nice and slippy, and then administer it. It slides down a lot easier and the enzymes in my mouth has already begun the process of dissolving the gelatin capsule.
Pilling a Dog
Have the dog sit down and tilt the dog's head back. Lift the lips away from his teeth, hold his upper jaw by the gums directly behind his canine teeth, and push down on his lower jaw with your other hand to open the mouth. Place the pill in the very back of his throat, close his mouth and keep it shut. Stroke his throat softly until pill is swallowed.
Put It In The Food
You can also open the capsule or crush the tablet and put it into food. Use only as much food as they will definitely finish. Make it a small serving and make sure they are hungry. After they've finished that serving, you can follow-up with more food. Baby foods are also an option. For dogs, you can mix the herbs with peanut butter if he likes the flavor. Mix them together and then stick it to the roof of the dog's mouth. He won't mind the process if he loves the smell of peanut butter. They work well for many. As the dog licks the peanut butter off the roof of his mouth, it will melt and he'll swallow the herbs with it
You can use a dropper to administer but be sure it is plastic and not glass. You can also use a syringe (without the needle). Be careful not to stab the back of the throat. It is recommended to insert the syringe while the mouth is closed as far back as the opening goes. Administer the liquid slowly so as not to choke the pet. Most pets will accept this method best. It doesn't affect the taste of their foods and it gets the dose down the quickest. You can also put liquids in the food or a broth.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and readily absorbs what is put on it. That's why flea dips and other chemicals used on the skin are so toxic to your pet. If all else fails, you can rub the liquid into the pads of the feet or "bathe" the animal in a "tea" for absorption of nutrients. This makes it harder to know what you actually get administered, but it's a great option if you're using essential oils.
You can brew the herbs as a tea and administer by dropper or syringe, or use as brewed in the water bowl in place of water. If not brewed too strong, they will drink as usual and you can increase strength as they adjust to it. This method may make it hard to get enough of the medicinal properties in to effectively help the condition, but it's better than nothing and can be used in addition to other methods. You can brew relatively a strong concoction and add to a favorite meat broth for the water bowl. Have fresh water available at times also.
Consider assimilation ability, age, weight, extent of symptoms of deficiency. Always use common sense. Build confidence in what you're doing and work with your instincts knowing that you are doing what is best for your pets. Respect your doubts and intuitions.
This DOES NOT apply to the heartworm program.
Basic Formula to Follow
Take the weight of the pet and divide it by 150 lbs. (weight of average adult). This will equal the fractional amount of adult dosage required. Adult dosages are listed on labels. Example - Adult dose is 2 capsules, 3 times per day (or 6 capsules). A 30 pound pet would take 30 divided by 150 which equals .20 or 20%. 20% of the adult dosage of 6 capsules would be 1.2 capsules a day.
This is a general rule to follow. Start out slow on the first day to give the animal a chance to adjust to the taste and work up to the above amount. Keep in mind that labeling is basically done as a maintenance dosage. If you are in a crisis situation or chronic health problem, more herbs may be necessary more frequently. Assume that the pet will, given the chance, gradually learn to accept and even enjoy the taste of herbs. Many pets actually begin to beg for their herbs.
The first time I heard this was with a hyper Rottweiler that would race to the door to "greet" anybody that visited. With an in-home business, this family needed some calming herbs. They began giving him Valerian Root and in about a week, the dog knew he needed it. Anytime they would grab a bottle of herbs, whether for themselves or him, the dog would come running and beg for a capsule.
Their instincts are still tuned in to nature. If you have a hyper animal, you may want to give something to calm the pet during the period of illness. Valerian Root comes in capsules. I had a feral cat that was feeding in our back yard and she showed signs of a respiratory infection which concerned me since these infections kill many cats and do it so quickly. I began putting liquid herbs on just a little bit of the food so she would still be hungry. She nibbled at it, and as time passed, she began to eat it all up so I could get it down her every couple of hours. In a couple of days, she was actually coming to seemingly "beg" for the herbs.