By Dr Ritesh Sood
Ayurveda or the ‘Science of Life’ is perhaps the oldest established system of medicine in the world. Holistic and primarily botanical, it focuses on preventative and curative healthcare
The earliest information on art and science of caring for animals in India is provided in the texts of Vedic tradition. The Ashvini Kumaras, well known twin deities were experts in Pashu Chikitsa (Ayurveda veterinary medicine). The core of Ayurveda veterinary medicine exists in section VI of Atharvaveda. The Indian Ayurveda veterinary medicine was already in practice long before the advent of contemporary veterinary medicine. Traditional practitioners in India started applying theoretical and practical knowledge of Ayurveda for treating diseases such as ulcers, wounds, digestive disturbances, and skin disorders.
Prevailing Ayurvedic veterinary formulations are a synthesis of thousands of years of Ayurvedic wisdom and modern science. Ayurvedic formulations contain several bioactive compounds, which are responsible for pharmacological actions and act synergistically, which prevent side effects, thereby keeping animals safe and healthy.
Herbs like Ashvagandha, neem and dill oil can be used for boosting immunity, preventing skin problems and treating indigestion in dogs
Ayurveda & Dogs
Dogs form an innate part of families today and as pet parents it is our responsibility to care of their well being and give them a healthy and disease free life. Pet parents frequently encounter common issues with their pet’s health, like itchy skin and excessive hair fall, poor immunity and indigestion. Herbs like Ashvagandha, neem and dill oil can be used for boosting immunity, preventing skin problems and treating indigestion in dogs.
A)Immunity in dogs
Every pet parent desires a healthy and active dog. This can be achieved by keeping the immune system healthy. A dog’s immune system is a protective shield that protects it from infections and illness. A poor immune system can make dogs susceptible to frequent attacks of diseases.
An adult dog can build its immunity either when it is exposed to antigens because of the presence of infections/vaccinations through passive transfer of antibodies from mother to foetus via colostrum or during gestation in puppies. Regular vaccination is advised to maintain the immunity. In adult dogs, adaptive immunity keeps developing as they grow.
Immunomodulator herbs that have been known to strengthen the immune system include:
- Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi) rejuvenates the immune system by maintaining the levels of white blood cells like macrophages and strengthens the body’s resistance against infections.
- Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is an anti stress and adaptogenic, and increases physiological endurance and protects against the effects of stress by scavenging free radicals.
B) Skin health in dogs
Skin health is reflective of the overall health of pets. A healthy skin is without scabs, white flakes, or any inflamed/red areas. Dogs’ skin and coats are particularly affected by parasites and allergies. Ticks, fleas and mites are the commonly found parasites on pets. Allergies like itchy skin and excessive hair fall could be caused by food, products used, and environment irritants like pollens and insects. Other common skin conditions include yeast infection, superficial pyoderma, and dry flaky skin. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are the fatty acids that include Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which play a major role in the maintenance of healthy coat and skin.
Herbs that have been known to control skin allergy, itching, and are rich in essential fatty acids include:
- Azadirachta indica (Neem) helps in reliving itching, redness and skin irritation. Neem also helps in combating certain bacterial and fungal skin infections.
- Eucalyptus (Tailaparni) has antiseptic and germicidal properties, which keep insects at bay and promote overall skin health.
- Tephrosia purpurea (Sarapunkha) is an insecticidal and helps in preventing ectoparasitic infections in pets.
Herbs like Helianthus annuus (sunflower oil), Linum usitatissimum (linseed oil) are rich sources of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids and can be supplemented in pets safely.
C)Indigestion in dogs
Indigestion is commonly encountered in dogs, especially in growing pups. The lack of enzymes and developing gastrointestinal tract is responsible for indigestion in pups. Herbs that have been proven to work as digestives and antiflatulents include:
- Piper nigrum (Black Pepper) has digestive, ant flatulent and sialagogue action that stimulates the secretion of saliva in the stomach. This aids overall digestion.
- Anethum sowa (Dill Oil) is a carminative that eliminates gas formation. It promotes digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive fluids like gastric juices, acids and bile in the stomach. Dill oil’s stimulates the salivary glands and aids in the primary digestion of food in the mouth.
- Cardamom (Ela) relieves stomach bloating and regulates bowel movement.
- Licorice (Yashtimadhu) has spasmolytic action and is useful in the treatment of abdominal pain and gastric infections.
Today, the market is teeming with a plethora of well researched Ayurvedic herbs .One must consult a veterinarian before beginning any medication or supplements for his/her dog.
The author is Product Manager, Animal Health Division, The Himalaya Drug Company
This article appeared in the July 2015 issue of Pure & Eco India