Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food: 5 Herbs That Help

Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food

If you’ve decided to transition your dog to a whole food, raw meat based diet, give yourself a pat on the back! Your dog will be much healthier and happier because of it. If your dog could talk, I’m sure she’d say “Thank you!”

Depending on your dog’s age, health condition and the time she’s spent on her current diet, a food transition may be challenging at first. Some dogs experience diarrhea or constipation as a result of the detoxification process. Other dogs experience changes in energy levels, while some show no effect from the change in diet. This is a natural process.

Just think about what it would feel like if you ate fast food consistently and then switched to only smoothies, stir-fries and salads. You’d eventually feel great, but there would probably be a short adjustment period.

The good news is, you can help your dog through it.

RELATED: How to get started with raw …

Can Herbs Help Transition Your Dog To Raw?

Herbs can help a lot when transitioning your dog from kibble to raw. They …

  • Encourage a healthy detoxification process
  • Reduce digestive discomfort
  • Increase appetite
  • Support the nervous system
  • Decrease inflammation

The adjustment period shouldn’t take longer than 3 to 4 weeks.

Note: If your dog experiences extreme digestive discomfort or refuses to eat, you should consult your vet. There may be something else going on.

How To Give Herbs

I’ll talk about which herbs to use in just a minute but first … let’s talk about the different ways you can give them.

There are a variety of ways to give herbs to your dog, including

  • Infused tea
  • Dried herb
  • Glycerite (tincture)
  • Capsules 

How you give herbs to your dog will depend on her taste preference and her symptoms. But when you’re dealing with digestive discomfort the best method often contains the least amount of liquid and tastes the best.

I personally think glycerites (herbs extracted in glycerin) are the best method during a food transition. Glycerites both taste good and contain a higher ratio of herb to liquid so you only need a small amount. You can buy glycerites or follow the recipe at the end of this post to make your own.

5 Herbs For Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food

Here are five herbs that can help your dog have a smooth transition to raw.

1. Chamomile – Matricaria recutita

Chamomile is a versatile herb that can help with gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. And it works quite quickly after consumption.

It can also help if your dog shows any signs of nervousness or anxiety. That’s because chamomile supports the nervous system by gently calming your dog. 

Chamomile Dosage

Glycerite or tincture: 1 to 2 ml per 20 lbs of body weight, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea: ½ cup per 20 lbs of weight, 2-3 times a day (use 10 to 30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb: 25 to 150 mg per lb of food, sprinkled on meals

You should not use chamomile if your dog is pregnant or has a known allergy to the Asteraceae family of plants.

2. Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel quickly relieves any gas or bloating that your dog may be experiencing. If your dog loses her appetite when transitioning to raw food, fennel can help to increase it again. And it can ease constipation or diarrhea. 

Fennel Dosage

Glycerite or tincture: 1 to 2 ml per 20 lbs of body weight, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea: ½ cup per 20 lbs of weight, 2-3 times a day (use 10 to 30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb: 25 to 150 mg per lb of food, sprinkled on meals

Like chamomile, you shouldn’t use fennel for pregnant dogs.

3. Marshmallow Root – Althaea officinalis radix

Marshmallow has a soothing demulcent action to gut mucosa. This means that it forms a protective film that soothes inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract.

Marshmallow root is also commonly used to relieve heartburn, gas, bloating and both constipation and diarrhea.

Marshmallow Root Dosage

Glycerite or tincture: 0.5 to 1.5 ml per 20 lbs of body weight, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea: ½ cup per 20 lbs of weight, 2-3 times a day (use 10 to 30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb: 25 to 150 mg per lb of food, sprinkled on meals

Marshmallow-infused tea has a goopy consistency that some dogs may not like. So if you use tea, try giving small amounts throughout the day rather than dosing all at once.

The mucilage created by this herb may reduce the absorption of some medications when taken in high doses.

4. Burdock Root – Arctium lappa

Burdock root is an herb that blurs the line between herb and food. It’s best known as a nutritive liver tonic because of its high nutrient content and ability to cleanse the liver.

Burdock root is an excellent herb for supporting the detoxification process during a food transition. And it can help with constipation, diarrhea and loss of appetite. 

Burdock Root Dosage

A decoction is a great way to use burdock root for your dog.

  • Combine 1 cup cold water and 1 to 2 tsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh herb in a pot.
  • Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer it for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove it from heat and let stand for 10 more minutes.
  • Strain the liquid and store in a container with a tight lid.

You can store the liquid in the fridge for up to a week.

Add up to 1 tsp of the decoction per 10lbs of body weight to your dog’s food daily.

5. Milk Thistle – Silybum marianum

Milk thistle gently supports the liver by restoring damaged cells and improving function. It also contains antioxidants that assist in reducing oxidative damage caused by processed foods.

This is a great herb to use for almost all dogs going through a food transition. And like all the other herbs mentioned, can help with constipation and diarrhea

Milk Thistle Dosage

Tinctures are the best method of administration for this herb. There’s a potent constituent in milk thistle called silymarin. And it is most effective when it’s extracted in alcohol.

You can remove the alcohol from a tincture by adding boiled water to the dosage. Let it cool, and then give it to your dog. This process will evaporate most of the alcohol.

Tincture: 1 to 2 ml per 20 lbs body weight, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea: ½ cup per 20 lbs body weight, 2-3 times a day (use 10 to 30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb: not an ideal herb to give dried

Milk thistle may reduce insulin requirements for diabetics. Talk to your vet before giving your dog this herb if she is on insulin. 

Glycerite Recipe For Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food

You can buy herbal tinctures but it’s easy to make your own too. The following recipe uses chamomile, marshmallow, and fennel to address: 

Prepare this remedy before starting the food transition.

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp dried organic chamomile flowers 
  • 2 tsp dried organic marshmallow root 
  • 4 tsp dried organic fennel seeds 
  • 3½ oz purified water
  • 5 oz vegetable glycerin
  • 16 oz wide mouth clean glass jar
  • Cheesecloth

Directions

  1. Powder the dried herbs together using a coffee grinder, food processor or blender and scoop into a glass jar.
  2. Mix together purified water and glycerin in a separate jar.
  3. Add the water and glycerin solution to the jar with dried herbs. Stir well. The liquid and powdered herbs take some effort to mix together, you may find using a butter knife or popsicle stick helpful to remove air bubbles.
  4. Place lid on the jar and label it with the date and herb names. Place in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks.
  5. Check daily that the herbs are still fully covered. Add more glycerin as needed to ensure herbs remain covered.
  6. After 2 weeks strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a clean jar. You will need to squeeze the mixture with some force.
  7. Compost the leftover herbal mixture.
  8. Place the lid on the jar of liquid with a new label and date.
  9. Store in the refrigerator. The liquid will keep for approximately 8 months.
  10. Dose 1 ml daily per 20 lbs of body weight.

This ticture isn’t for use in pregnant or lactating dogs or dogs with allergies to Asteraceae.

Pay Attention When Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food

Staying observant is the key to using herbs during your dog’s transition to raw. I recommend keeping a close watch on bowel activity, skin and coat health, energy levels and appetite.

This will help you choose the most appropriate herb for your companion’s unique health presentation. For example, if your dog shows signs of constipation and anxiety, chamomile would be most appropriate. That’s because it both calms the nervous system and supports digestive health.

Once you’ve made the full switch to a raw diet, you can stop using the herbs and start to enjoy the extra energy and vibrancy she now has.

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References

Shaker E, Mahmoud H, Mnaa S. Silymarin, the antioxidant component and Silybum marianum extracts prevent liver damageFood Chem Toxicol. 2010 Mar;48(3):803-6. 

Chan YS, Cheng LN, Wu JH, Chan E, Kwan YW, Lee SM, Leung GP, Yu PH, Chan SW. A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock)Inflammopharmacology. 2011 Oct;19(5):245-54. 

Al-Snafi AE. The pharmaceutical importance of Althaea officinalis and Althaea roseaInternational Journal of PharmaTech Research. 2013;5(3):1378-85.

Badgujar SB, Patel VV, Bandivdekar AH. Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application, and toxicologyBiomed Res Int. 2014;2014:842674. 

Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright futureMol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901. 

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