Humans have been sharing food and shelter with dogs for over 100,000 years. Today the bond we share is evident, with nearly 43 million American households owning one or more dogs. We want what’s best for our tail-wagging companions. This includes taking care of their health and wellbeing throughout their lives. As a result, it’s best to understand what possible health and dietary supplements there are available for optimizing their health. This is where chamomile shines, it has a wide variety of health benefits for dogs to gain.
What is Chamomile?
The American English language refers to it as “Chamomile”. However, according to British English, it is “Camomile”. Both names derive from the Greek word “Khamaimelon” which translates to “earth” “apple” because of the mild appley scent it permeates.
Chamomile is an ancient flowering plant with its uses dating back to Egyptian times. Back then they would use chamomile to help cure fevers. Can you imagine King Tut chilling his fever with some chamomile? Fast forward to today and many people are using chamomile for the calming effects it offers them or their pet, but that’s not its only benefit.
Chamomile is actually the common name of several different daisy-like plants found in the taxonomic family Asteraceae. However, there are only two variations of the chamomile plant which people use for consumption or health purposes, which are:
Matricaria recutita (German chamomile)
This is also known as Hungarian, wild, or genuine chamomile. However, people most commonly refer to it as “German” chamomile.
This variety is the most popular amongst consumers. It has the ability to grow up to 2 feet tall.
The essential oil you extract from German chamomile is dark blue and reportedly has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-microbial properties. This is likely due to the presence of two compounds: bisabolol and azulene.
Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile)
This variety is most commonly referred to as “Roman” chamomile. However, English, Scotch, garden, lawn, sweet, true, or common chamomile are other less common names some people use.
This is a perennial plant (meaning it lives for more than 2 years). It can grow up to about 1 foot tall and it has thicker leaves than German chamomile.
The essential oil that extracts from Roman chamomile is pale yellow to clear in color. This oil contains esters of angelic and tiglic acids. These acids reportedly give this variety its sedating and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its distinct odor.
Both of these species resemble daisies. They have white petals encircling a yellow center. Although they both are quite pretty, they are primarily used in traditional medicine to make several kinds of herbal infusions.
The dried chamomile flowers are commonly used to make a particularly popular type of herbal tea. Furthermore, according to a 2010 paper in Molecular Medicine Reports, dried chamomile flowers contain high levels of terpenoids and flavonoids.
What are Terpenoids & Flavonoids?
Both terpenoids and flavonoids are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that are found in plant-based food or produced within the body. They are crucial for defending mammalian cells from damage that is caused by molecules known as free radicals.
Free radicals are the unavoidable byproducts of cellular metabolism. They are a natural part of the aging process. However, if they accumulate to a greater degree, then a state known as oxidative stress may occur.
Oxidative stress can lead to cell and tissue damage. Consequently, there is mounting data suggesting that exposure to long-term oxidative stress may promote the development of conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
This is why foods rich in antioxidants (like chamomile) have so many positive health benefits. In fact, a 2005 study in Vitamins & Hormones concluded that these plant antioxidants, especially terpenoids, are the main components found in essential oils. Essential oils are natural oils that are obtained via distillation from a particular plant. These oils are used in certain types of traditional medicines such as aromatherapy.
According to a study in 1986, 28 of the 120 secondary metabolites in chamomile were terpenoids. According to this same study, 36 of the 120 secondary metabolites were flavonoids. The most significant is apigenin, which is especially abundant in chamomile flowers and constitutes 68% of the total flavonoids. It also has a wide range of anti-inflammatory benefits.
Benefits of Chamomile for Dogs
Chamomile has a variety of benefits for dogs, including:
Calming the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract)
Chamomile provides anti-spasmodic, carminative (anti-flatulence), and sedative effects to the GI tract. This makes it useful in alleviating symptoms like indigestion, vomiting, or gas as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Research is still ongoing as to how chamomile is so effective, but most researchers hypothesize that it has to do with the various volatile oils found in the plant (apigenenin, chamazulene, and matricin) as well as the flavonoids mentioned above.
Furthermore, the same 2010 study in Molecular Medicine Reports mentioned above also concluded that chamomile inhibits the bacteria which cause stomach ulcers.
Skin and eye conditions
If your dog has inflamed, itchy, or raw skin due to contact allergies, flea bites, or bacterial/fungal infections, then chamomile can be used as a soothing and antimicrobial skin rinse. Additionally, you can combine chamomile with peppermint or calendula tea as well as aloe vera juice, then the soothing properties will be enhanced.
If the infection is persistent, you can combine the chamomile with goldenseal root. This will give you a more powerful anti-microbial agent. You can also use chamomile tea (after it’s cooled off, of course) for conjunctivitis from bacterial infection, allergies, or irritants in the air.
Cardiovascular and reproductive health
Research indicates that chamomile may help strengthen smooth muscle like the walls of blood vessels and stomach lining for example. Smooth Muscles are spread throughout the mammalian body.
Smooth muscle refers to muscles that we do not control they are non-striated muscle (meaning they don’t have muscle fibers, unlike our voluntary muscles). Therefore they cannot really gain strength through exercise.
Sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
Chamomile has relaxing properties. This is why so many people drink chamomile tea. While others use it as a relaxative in aromatherapy for both humans and dogs. Although, I wonder if it works better for dogs, you know because they have a better sense of smell.
A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that aromatherapy with a variety of essential oils was highly useful in decreasing travel-induced excitement in dogs. In other words, it can calm a hyperactive or anxious dog during a car ride. In fact, you will find chamomile in certain calming dog treats due to the relaxing effects it offers.
Infection from parasites
Parasitic worms are a common problem with dogs. Limited research and extensive anecdotal evidence suggest that chamomile is effective against most of the major worm infestations (also known as an antihelmintic). This includes hookworms, whipworms, and heartworms. It apparently works even better when coupled with garlic.
As you can see, chamomile can be a wonderful and effective addition to your dog’s nutrition supplement regimen. Just be sure to apply it safely.
Is Chamomile Safe for Dogs?
Yes, it is generally safe for dogs unless your dog ingests a large quantity. In cases when the toxicity is mild, then your dog will likely only experience some GI tract distress. However, if the toxicity is serious, then they may experience uncontrollable internal bleeding. In this case, the dog must go to an emergency veterinarian immediately. This level of toxicity is potentially fatal
The symptoms of chamomile poisoning in dogs include:
- Hypersalivation (excessive drooling)
- Contact dermatitis (more in chronic than acute cases)
- Hemorrhaging, especially in the nostrils (epistaxis)
- Internal bleeding
It is believed that the component in chamomile that is most toxic to dogs is a volatile oil made up of bisabolol, chamazulene, anthemic acid, and tannic acid.
How Much Chamomile Should I Give My Dog?
This depends on the underlying condition and the weight of your dog.
However, first you have to make the actual tea infusion. This is essentially an extra-strong form of tea, so use 4 tea bags or 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf tea for each cup of boiling water. Let sit until it cools down. If any of it remains unused, you may keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
For an upset stomach you may use:
- Chamomile tincture – 1 milliliter (¼ teaspoon) for every 30 pounds of your dog’s weight. You can squirt it directly into their mouth.
- A strong infusion of tea (cooled down) – For medium to large dogs use 1 full tablespoon every 2 hours until GI tract distress is over. For smaller size dogs try a half teaspoon every 2 hours or adjust accordingly for desired results.
To treat conjunctivitis, you may make chamomile eyedrops by combining the tea infusion with saline solution in a ratio of 1 part tea to 3 parts saline solution. However, you have to make sure that all plant matter is out of the infusion. To do this strain it through a coffee filter 2 to 3 times or until there are no visible particles. Examine thoroughly remember this is for the eyes.
If you want to increase the anti-microbial activity of your eye drops, then add 5 to 10 drops of goldenseal tincture for every fluid ounce of eye drops. As you can see, this chamomile can be so useful for dogs, so how do you apply it?
How to Give Chamomile to Dogs
Well, there are a number of ways, including using the infusion method above. You can also try adding it to their water bowl or dried food. If you add some sweet-tasting glycerin to the infusion, you can effectively turn it into a tincture and squirt it under your dog’s tongue.
But why go through all that trouble? An easier option is to give them dog treats that contain chamomile along with other beneficial additives. You’ll be supercharging their nutrition and supplement regimen with a single product. Furthermore, you can easily use the treats to train your dog or reward them for good behavior.
These treats contain:
This is an anxiolytic (decreases anxiety) and relaxes your dog.
As discussed above, chamomile has a wide variety of benefits, including its usefulness in reducing anxiety, fear, or restlessness.
Hemp Seed Powder
This also reduces anxiety and is rich in highly nutritious protein. It also contains amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc along with vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Cannabidiol (CBD Oil)
This groundbreaking hemp extract has a wide variety of benefits for dogs. Basically, it may encourage overall health and wellness by promoting “balance”. It may help to keep the body in a state known as homeostasis.
To add these treats are 100% vegan, organic, non-GMO, non-psychoactive, gluten and dairy-free. Reward your fluffy companion today with these nutritious and healthy treats – they’ll thank you for it!