Herbs for Canine Digestive Support

Adding specific herbs to your dog’s daily food intake can support the digestive tract and resolve imbalances quite efficiently. Be consistent and give the formulation a good 10 – 14 day trial.  You should notice improvement during that time.

Lily loves her greens, and it shows!

Herbs and nutritional supplements have a much more rapid and noticeable effect when served with a digestible, species-appropriate whole food diet of meat, greens and vegetables.  The burden created by feeding heat-processed dry or canned food will definitely slow your dog’s ability to heal, recover, rebuild and thrive.

First, the nutritive greens

These Corgis maintain ideal body weight with
whole foods and greens! Cuties!

Start with some basic green powders.  I’m using Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Spirulina, and Nettle. This green blend makes up about 50% of the entire  formulation (by weight). Greens are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Chlorophyll is an excellent blood builder.  All nutrients support organ function along with the amazing chemical reactions that occur in the body to allow detoxification and repair.

To the greens, I add a combination of herbs that are highly nutritive, and that support digestive as well as other organ systems.

The next five ingredients compose approximately 30% of the formula.

Beet Root for Liver Support

Beet Root is liver supportive, nutritive, and offers much in the way of cellular protection. Considered to be anti-cancer due to it’s ability to lower homocysteine levels, beet root is high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; and folic acid.

Calendula – Gently Healing

Calendula is easy to grow in full sun.
Throw some seeds in your garden!


Calendula is often used topically to treat skin irritations. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties. I often add a large pinch of Calendula petals to blends for dogs with impaired digestion. For dogs with a history of bacterial infections, it’s a very gentle and effective herb that supports a cleaner digestive tract.



Rose Hips – Highly Nutritive & Toning

Rose Hips are incredibly high in Vitamin C, and rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, Niacin, Bioflavanoids, K, and E as well as Selenium and pectin. Rose hips help balance the friendly bacteria in the gut, and tone the intestinal tract. I include rose hip powder in my dog’s formula pretty consistently. A single cup of rose hips contains more Vitamin C than several dozen oranges, according to Euell Gibbons.

Last summer, I harvested rose hips from my garden for the first time, and made some rose hip jam using the recipe from Euell Gibbons’ book, Stalking the Healthful Herbs. It’s an awesome recipe that uses raw rose hips, so you get to experience the full flavor and nutritional benefit. Rose hip jam is incredibly delicious – pure joy. Species roses are very robust and hearty growers, so grow some roses and harvest the rose hips!  Cleaning the rose hips (removing seeds and pith) is a little labor intensive, but worth every moment. And think of how deliciously well nourished you will be!  I’m adding this to my personal gut-healing smoothie formula.  Recipe on next week’s blog!

 Slippery Elm Strengthens & Protects Digestive Organs

Slippery Elm is demulcent, nutritive, and highly beneficial to the digestive system, and is considered one of the most valuable remedies in herbal practice. The mucilage strengthens the digestive organs and provides healing protection for the intestinal lining. Excellent for any irritations of stomach or intestines. Slippery elm also has strong a strong affinity for the respiratory system, as well,and is often used in formulas for bronchitis and pleurisy.

Slippery Elm can also be used as a poultice for wounds, boils, burns – any inflammation. This is a good herb to learn about and keep on hand, if only for this particular use.  And really, when you think about it, almost everyone could use digestive healing and support, so figure out some ways to add this herb to your food!  It’s one of the ingredients in a new gut healing smoothie recipe that I have recently formulated for people.  That recipe and a few other delicious healing food recipes will appear in my next blog.

Elecampane Root – Richest Source of Inulin

The root of Elecampane, or Inula helenium, is the very richest source of inulin, a constituent that provides food for friendly bacteria in the gut. Elecampane root is considered an alterative, increasing the body’s ability to eliminate while simultaneously increasing the absorption of nutrients. It is also antiseptic and toning to the entire digestive tract, and has dramatically helped my little dog with her anal gland issues. Pliny suggested  “Let no day pass without eating some of the roots to help digestion, and to expel melancholy.””

Elecampane is  very well known for treating respiratory imbalances and can be taken as a preventative for those who have a tendency to get bronchitis. It’s a very aromatic herb, very warming to the lungs. Clears congestion.

Such a vital and beautiful plant.

I’ve been growing this herb for a couple years, and I will never be without it in my gardens. I love everything about it. Quite ornamental and very high energy. The aroma of the freshly dug roots is intoxicating.

Organic Coconut, Nutritional Yeast and Lecithin Granules

The last three ingredients in this digestive support formula are Organic grated Coconut, Nutritional Yeast and Lecithin granules. These make up the last 20% by weight of the digestive support formula. Coconut provides fiber, good fat, is naturally antibiotic and can be super helpful for dogs with anal gland issues.  Nutritional yeast provides all of the B vitamins and some amazing good energy!  Lecithin helps the body process fats of all kinds and contributes to a healthy coat.

So there you have it.  By using just a few of the many digestive herbs in combination with nutritive greens and a few other ingredients, we can offer some serious digestive support to our four legged friends.

My basic green formula for dogs is available here.  You can order any of the above herbs at the Mountain Rose Herbs link below.





Recommended Reading

Gibbons, Euell. Stalking the Healthful Herbs. New York: D. McKay, 1966. Print.

Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2008. Print.

Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-makers’ Handbook: A Home Manual. Freedom, CA: Crossing, 2000. Print.

Hartung, Tammi. Growing 101 Herbs That Heal: Gardening Techniques, Recipes, and Remedies. Pownal, VT: Storey, 2000. Print.

“Hedgerow To Kitchen.” The Herb Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014

“Herbal Honeys & Pastes for Blood Building, Burn Dressings & More.” The Medicine Womans Roots. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

Kidd, Randy. Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Dog Care. Pownal, VT: Storey, 2000. Print.

“The Medicine Woman’s Roots.” The Medicine Womans Roots. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

Pedersen, Mark. Nutritional Herbology: A Reference Guide to Herbs. Warsaw, IN: Wendell W. Whitman, 1998. Print.

Shababy, Doreen. The Wild & Weedy Apothecary: An A to Z Book of Herbal Concoctions, Recipes & Remedies Practical Know-how and Food for the Soul. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2010. Print.

“Sweet Medicine: Healing with the Wild Heart of Rose.” The Medicine Womans Roots. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.

Tilford, Gregory L., Mary Wulff-Tilford, and Mary Wulff-Tilford. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. Laguna Hills, CA: BowTie, 2009. Print.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

About Sarah Wadleigh

I am a Clinical Herbalist, Organic Gardener and Nutritional Consultant for people and companion animals. I live in Madrid, New Mexico with my wonderful husband, two little dogs and a big cat. My practice revolves around helping people create health through whole-food nutrition, nutritive herbs, lifestyle and self-awareness. With more than 20 years of experience as an animal nutritional counselor, I offer consultations to improve the health and well-being of our four-legged friends, as well as their humans. We can work together via Skype, in person,or over the phone. Let's create health for ourselves and our animal companions! Contact: sarah@summersunherbals.com
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