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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 well-being 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, as it has a wide variety of health benefits for dogs.
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 its mild apple-like scent.
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, where 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. There are two variations of the chamomile plant which people use for consumption or health purposes. These 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, anti-parasitic, and anti-microbial properties. It is commonly used in human herbal medicine to treat menstrual cramps, stomachache, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, rheumatic pain, hemorrhoids, and anxiety. This is likely due to the presence of two compounds: apigenin and chamazulene. Both compounds act similarly to aspirin and reduce the production of chemicals in the body that leads to inflammation.
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 extract 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 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, 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. 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.
Benefits of Chamomile for Dogs
Chamomile has a variety of benefits for dogs, including:
Calming the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract)
Chamomile provides anti-spasmodic, anti-ulcer, and anti-inflammatorysedative effects to the GI tract. This makes it useful in alleviating symptoms like indigestion, vomiting, or 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, a 2010 study in Molecular Medicine Reports mentioned above also concluded that chamomile inhibits the bacteria which cause stomach ulcers in humans. This may or may not be the same situation in dogs.
Skin and eye conditions
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile tea may provide relief for skin inflammation. A small study in 1987 showed improved healing of skin wounds and reduced inflammation when concentrated chamomile tea was applied onto the skin.
Chamomile also has limited antimicrobial properties. While it may not be potent enough for many dogs, if your dog has inflamed or itchy skin, or if your dog has a bacterial skin infection, chamomile can be used as a soothing and antimicrobial skin rinse.
Chamomile also has limited antimicrobial properties. While it may not be potent enough for many dogs, if your dog has inflamed or itchy skin, or if your dog has a bacterial skin infection, 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.
Topically, chamomile can be applied onto the skin directly to relieve inflammation. There are not many studies looking at the oral administration (i.e., drinking chamomile tea) in animals. However, some laboratory animals did get relief of skin inflammation when chamomile was given by mouth as a liquid extract.
Chamomile may also be helpful for dry eye in dogs. One study of 20 dogs showed good response when a topical medication containing chamomile was applied to dogs’ eyes along with the traditional, veterinarian-prescribed eye ointment.
Sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
Chamomile has relaxing properties. This is why so many people drink chamomile tea to help them go to sleep or to relieve anxiety.
This hasn’t been thoroughly investigated in dogs, but they may benefit from the same anti-anxiety effects as people.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 may have some limited efficacy against some of the major worm infestations (also known as an antihelmintic). However, it’s important to stress that chamomile has not been proven to be as effective as the prescription veterinary products. Because parasitic infections can be life-threatening in some cases, it is very important to discuss anti-parasite options with your veterinarian before relying only on chamomile.
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?
While chamomile is commonly used by owners as an at-home remedy, most of the evidence for its efficacy comes from traditional herbal experience in humans, studies on laboratory animals, and individual veterinarians’ experiences. This means that there have been no large-scale, controlled clinical trials in either humans or pets, including dogs.
In general, chamomile is safe for dogs unless they ingest a large quantity or use it for a long period of time. However, it is important to remember that because no large-scale studies have been performed, we don’t know the proper dosing for dogs for different conditions, and we don’t know how much is “too much”. Because of this, it is always important to discuss with your veterinarian before giving chamomile to your dog.
If chamomile is given by mouth, mild toxicity may cause some GI tract distress (vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite). However, if the toxicity is serious, or if chamomile is given long-term, dogs may experience uncontrollable internal bleeding. 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
In some cases, allergic reactions to chamomile may also be life-threatening. This may look like trouble breathing, face swelling, or hives. If bleeding, other signs of toxicity (as above), or signs of allergic reaction are seen, the dog must go to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
How to Give Chamomile to Dogs
There are a number of ways to give chamomile to dogs. For skin diseases, you can apply it topically or give it by mouth. For dry eye, there are over-the-counter (non-prescription) treatments that you apply directly into the eye.
If you buy supplements over the counter, it’s important to do some research on the manufacturer. This is because supplements are not regulated by the FDA and some supplements may not contain what the ingredients label says. The strength of chamomile can vary depending on the preparation, and there may be contaminants in a product that are not listed on the label. One important way to evaluate a product is to check whether there is “third-party testing.” This is when an outside company evaluates the product for quality assurance, including ingredients and contaminants.
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) that 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 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! Additional info can be found here.