Pesto sauce and pasta sauce for your dogs?
Culinary herbs from your garden, like basil and oregano, add much more than flavor to your dog’s and your food. Carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and even fiber and protein contribute valuable nutritional components to balance the diet.
Let’s look at a couple of popular backyard herbs that are favorites in Italian cooking.
Basil and oregano are part of the mint family, and are filled with lots of good stuff.
What kind of good stuff you ask?
Basil is loaded. According to Dr Randy Kidd DVM PhD, basil may have aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic qualities! But he chooses it for its nutritional values: beta-carotene, Vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, plus trace amounts of others.
A tablespoon of basil leaves can contain 47 mg of calcium, 1.89 mg of iron, 55 mg of potassium, and 15 mg of manganese. Two teaspoons of dried basil contains almost the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk.
Oregano has been found to aid in the treatment of upper respiratory disease, arthritis, Lyme and other tick borne diseases, while also providing immune system support. Plus it’s also packed with vitamins and minerals giving you tons of bang for your bark.
Plus, with all green herbs come the wondrous benefits of chlorophyll which can help control body odor, alleviate constipation and gas, is valuable as an antioxidant and promotes cleansing of toxins on the inside and cleansing of wounds on the outside.
Both are also excellent sources of fiber for Fido (almost half of each serving is fiber) who obtains the bulk of this essential nutrient from plants.
Both basil and oregano are known for their essential oils so their growing conditions are critical for the quality of oil produced.
When grown in healthy soil with plenty of sun and water, bug cultures above and below the ground, a growing season that encourages growth and vitality through re-seeding, plus loving care, a plant is destined for health.
Herbs from the mint family are identified by their erect, square-branched stems and opposite pairs of leaves, bilaterally symmetrical flowers with united petals, and a four-lobed ovary that produces four one-seeded nutlets.
Most grow in wet environments and moist soil with wide-spreading underground network of runners and a system of stolons that spread slightly over ground and can be very invasive, like oregano.
Mints are almost exclusively perennial, rarely an annual like basil.
(Related: Essential Oils For Dogs: Keeping It Safe)
Whenever possible, fresh herbs should be harvested right before use, preferably in the morning before the heat of the day. When using fresh herbs, use about three times as much as you would for dried. Either way, organically grown is always preferred.
Practice the whole herb approach, like Dr Kidd, to give dogs “the maximum synergistic effects of the different biochemicals within the herbs, as well as the safety factors inherent in the bidirectionality actions of most herbs.” Basically, Mother Nature knows best.
How To Give Herbs To Your Dog
Culinary herbs help maintain dogs at a healthy performance level with just a sprinkling on their food. Try adding one herb at a time over the course of a week to ensure it agrees with your dog’s system. A rotation of several herbs will keep the menu interesting.
Double or triple these amounts if you’re using fresh herbs, keeping in mind that they have strong flavours.
For the fussier pup, it can be as simple as making a pesto (slurry) with coconut or olive oil, or a sauce of other veggies (half a cup of liquid and one cup of leaves).
Store in a jar in the fridge, and stir in an equivalent measure, as above, into dinner. Garnish with parsley. (We’ll discuss that another time.)
Not the chef type? Then grind up the dried version, chop them up raw or create a tincture, tonic or tea brimming with good stuff to add to each meal.
(Related: The Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Dogs)
Of course, with chronic issues and ailments, it’s important to consult with a skilled herbalist to help determine the herbs, quantities and means of application to treat your pet.