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Pet Talk Column: Gardening for You and Your Pet

Written By Cicero on 5/1/15 | 5/1/15

It’s National Pet Week May 3-9th. It’s that time of year again; April showers bringing May flowers, green grass and garden season. It’s a favorite time of year for many, especially for your pets. They look forward to running around in the fresh warm air; spreading their toes in the soft green grass and rolling around in whatever they can find. Do you find them munching on the grass or green shoots coming up? Do you wonder why they do this and if it will hurt them or wonder if they are sick? 

While it may seem like a strange behavior—especially when they throw up afterwards—there’s not much to worry about. Most experts in the veterinary and animal world don’t see a danger in letting them munch on the grass and in fact can prove to be beneficial for them. Grass contains essential nutrients a dog or cat might crave, especially if they are on a commercial kibble diet. 

Juices in grass contain folic acid just like mothers milk. This is an essential vitamin used for such bodily functions as production of hemoglobin; which helps move oxygen in their blood. It’s kind of like a wheat grass shake for your pet. Grass also acts as a natural laxative, counteracting cases of indigestion. 

When your pet eats things from the yard, grooms a lot or finds dead critters; grass will help them clean out their gut and eliminate it by vomiting. As with anything, there are always precautions to watch for. If your pet has a sudden increase in grass eating and begins gulping it down in large quantities; it could be a sign of a more serious underlying illness that your dog or cat is trying to self-treat and will require veterinary evaluation.

If you notice your pets have been munching, then you may want to introduce them to natural herbs and or cooked veggies in their diet. Cats tend to be more finicky than dogs but neither are fond of raw veggies either. They are kind of like big furry kids. 

You can start an herbal garden at home to give them an alternative to outdoor grass and landscaping that may lead to accidental ingestion of chemicals, herbicides or pesticides used to treat your (or your neighbor’s) yards. 

Whether you have a large yard space, a small 4x4 plot, or a windowsill; you can grow a healing garden for your cat or dog. The plants I suggest will be easy to grow, inexpensive and can double as a home remedy for you and your family. Below is a list to use as a guide.

Burdock Herb: Treats allergies, digestive and kidney issues. Needs to be kept in rich soil and keep it well pruned.

Milk Thistle: Used for liver disorders. Loves sun/part sun and flowers need to be removed.

Peppermint: Good for indigestion and nausea. Likes rich, moist soil, sun and/or shade. Keep it trimmed to keep healthy and from being invasive.

Astragalus Herb: Used for lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It also improves digestion and promotes healing. It likes sandy soil. You will need to scratch the seeds before planting.

Garlic Grass: Is an immune booster. Plant a clove of the bulb in rich soil pointed side up. The grass that grows from the clove is okay for either to eat. Limit dogs on clove ingestion. Do not feed garlic cloves to your cat, just the grass from it.
Rosemary: Is an immune booster. It’s a hardy perennial, that doesn't like too much water and needs to be kept well-trimmed.

Grass: (From wheat or Barley berries from a health food store) Grass from these are good for digestion. Grow a plot just for pets. Moist balanced soil without weeds, is what allows it to grow best.

Gardening can be great for you and your pets. Consult your veterinarian or local master gardener for other pet friendly herbs and flowers and happy gardening.

Lorraine Fancher, LVT
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