• Maureen Ericson, M.H.


Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Spring has finally arrived as the sun becomes stronger and the snow has melted nourishing all of the plants underneath it. I love spring as each new day brings the gifts of new plants arising from its winter slumber. The days are starting warm up as the spring plants emerge bringing new life to our gardens. Don’t you just love the fresh air, the songs of the birds during mating season and the smells of the trees and plants opening to new life?

I also look at spring as a new beginning for our animal’s body cells to be cleansed and strengthened by the spring herbs that are popping up all around us. During winter animals lounge around more, gain some winter fat, and have less opportunity for outside exercise and play. Their immune, digestive and lymphatic systems become weaker along with their muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Spring to me is detox and tonify time. It is time to strengthen those weak parts of the body. It is also time to address spring allergies for animals as the pollen becomes heavy. Many of the herbs that are appearing as the first plants to awaken can address all of these needs.

Here are my favorite spring herbs for animals and how I use them. Dosing is based on animal weight. Smaller amounts for smaller animals.

*Note- When using herbs for animals always use alcohol-free, vinegar, or glycerin-based tinctures only. Alcohol based tinctures are poisonous to many animals.

Chamomile- (Matricaria chamomilla)- Flowers-

Chamomile is a great anti-microbial herb for eye infections. Spring allergies can bring some bad eye infections in animals. Animals with weepy, watery allergy eyes can benefit from an eyewash of Chamomile Tea. Chamomile will soothe the eye and protect it from becoming infected. Make a cup of Chamomile Tea and let it cool. Dip a face cloth into the cool tea and gently wipe away the tears. Chamomile can feed and nourish nerves and muscles with its many great minerals. Added to food it can help with stress and anxiety helping to calm the animal. It has great anti-inflammatory/anti-spasmodic properties, that can help relieve pain from overworked muscles and joints, along with strengthening muscles, ligaments, and tendons. I add 2-5 tsp of tea to the animal’s food when needed.

Chickweed- (Stellaria media)- Stems, Leaves and Flowers-

Obesity is a large problem in animals. The foods they are given and the sedentary lifestyles they live can create an obese pet. Exercise is so important during winter months to maintain a good healthy weight. Without exercise and movement our lymphatic system becomes stagnant allowing disease in our joints and blood. Chickweed’s ability to break down fat cells, tumors, cysts, and other cancer cells makes it a great plant to use during the spring when it appears. The fresh plant or a cup of tea can be added to their food. It is a great emollient for the skin when used in salves helping with skin rashes or irritants. During allergy season many animals chew their feet or skin due to its itchiness.

Dandelion- (Taraxacum officinale)- Roots and Leaves-

Dandelion is my favorite herb for the digestive tract and strengthening the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. It is one of the best detoxifiers in the herbal world. Its dual directionality allows it to be a great blood purifier and blood builder as it cleans and feeds the body at the same time. All animals can benefit from it added to their food 2-3 times a week. I use an alcohol- free tincture, dose 2-10 drops per meal.

Mullein- (Verbascum thapsus)- Leaves-

Mullein can be used to strengthen the respiratory system and a is great pain reliever due to its non-habit-forming narcotic properties. Mullein mixed with honey for dogs over 1 year with Kennel cough can quiet the cough and help clear excessive mucus. I use Mullein leaf decoctions or tinctures to relieve pain from broken bones or fractures. Poultices can also be applied to swollen glands or bad sprains. Mullein works at cleansing the lymphatic system and can be used with other lymphatic cleansing herbs such as Burdock, or Red Clover. (*Note- Mullein’s narcotic and pain-relieving properties are best extracted with heat in a decoction or alcohol. Use small amounts it can cause excessive drowsiness.)

Violet- (Viola odorata)-Leaves and Flowers-

My favorite little spring herb is Violet. It’s heart shaped leaves and colorful flowers are packed with vitamins, minerals and medicinal properties. This little herb is a great blood purifier and immune support especially for cancer care. It works wonders on breaking down tumors, cysts and swollen glands. Many female animals can develop mastitis, mammary tumors or cancer (breast cancer). Violet is my go-to herb for helping animals deal with the pain and infection of mastitis or tumors. Violet can be used internally as a tincture or externally as a compress, especially in the care of mastitis.

During spring, I spend lots of time with these plants, harvesting the fresh plants to make new tinctures or salves and drying the ones that will be needed throughout the rest of the year in my herbal pharmacy. Spring may bring us many other wonderful plants to harvest throughout the season, but I find that these spring herbs are the ones I use a lot for animal care. Happy Spring!!!

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