Perhaps you are already familiar with echinacea, if you have ever taken the herb to boost your own immune system, particularly when you feel a cold coming on. For humans, echinacea is a great way to give the body some extra protection against foreign invaders when cold and flu season arrives. It should be no wonder that this helpful herb can also be beneficial to canines in much the same way.
What Is Echinacea?
Used by herbalists for hundreds of years to treat a variety of conditions, echinacea comes from purple coneflowers. It is particularly powerful in treating colds, the flu, and upper respiratory infections. Before antibiotics existed, echinacea was used to fight these conditions. Here is how it works. It doesn’t actually fight the infection. Instead, it strengthens the body so that it can fight it off. For humans, echinacea can be taken in pill form, drank as a tea, or taken as a powder or liquid extract.
Is Echinacea Effective?
When it comes to herbal treatments, there are many different opinions on their efficacy. Herbalists stress the importance of taking a high dosage of echinacea in order for it to be truly effective. Liquid extracts are believed to carry the highest dosage of fresh, undried echinacea and are therefore the most effective.
With all this taken into consideration, most experts agree that any amount of echinacea is still not as effective as taking antibiotics to heal serious upper respiratory infections. However, in children, taking echinacea has been shown to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infections by over 50%.
Echinacea for Dogs
Echinacea works most effectively in leveling out the immune system. It has a gentle, yet adequate effect in fighting viruses, bacteria, and yeasts. For this reason, it is a great choice to use to combat infections such as UTI infections, kennel cough, and upper respiratory infections for example.
With that being said, it is important to get the timing right when giving echinacea to your dog. For example, you must give it to them when the undesired symptoms first begin to show up. If you wait too long to give it to them, its effects will basically be watered down, so to speak.
According to VCA Hospitals.com, there are several different types of echinacea, and as a result, there are different formulations or blends of it. They recommend those that include polysaccharides, cichoric acid, and alkylamides as being the most effective.
Echinacea is meant to be used by those who have healthy immune systems. Dogs who have autoimmune diseases, leukemia or diabetes should steer clear of being treated with echinacea.
Should I Give Echinacea to My Dog?
Only a handful of studies have been conducted to find out the answer to this question. Because of this, the best thing you can do is ask your veterinarian if they think it is a good idea for you to try it out on your canine companion. They will advise you on how much to give your dog, what form to use, and the best way to feed it to them.