During the holidays, our family had the rare occasion when we could all take time off from our jobs and busy schedules to make the 11-hour drive to visit my husband’s family. We packed up the car and tucked Ella, our 3-month-old puppy, into some blankets on the back seat with our son. Ten hours into the trip, Ella got carsick. We’re not too sure why she got sick, though she was watching a DVD with Ryan when it happened. I got everyone cleaned up without too much trouble, and we got to Gramma’s without any other delays. The whole incident, though, brought up a lengthy discussion on the uses and benefits of teas for dogs. When we got back home I did some research and was surprised with the results.
Tea and coffee are dangerous to dogs because it affects their heart and nervous system. Like chocolate, caffeine is a stimulant that can cause all kinds of problems. Small amounts of caffeine can cause vomiting and diarrhea, whereas large amounts will increase heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to seizures and death. That means black, green and oolong teas should never be given to your pet. The question arises, is decaffeinated tea ok? It seems that I could not get a clear answer. While some studies say decaffeinated tea is all right in moderation, other studies say that even decaffeinated tea still has some residual caffeine, and a greater concern would be the dog’s reaction to the chemicals used in the decaffeinating process.
I then researched herbal teas for dogs. There were even more pros and cons on this subject, but I found a few that seemed safe enough for dogs.
Chamomile tea was safe in most cases. One caution, animals with allergies to goldenrod or ragweed should not consume teas containing chamomile. Also, never give chamomile tea to a pregnant animal since it can cause uterine problems. Chamomile tea is used to calm an animal; place a little in their water dish or soak a treat in it.
Ginger tea seemed to be generally accepted for pets. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat a myriad of aliments such as gas, nausea, arthritis and heart problems. It can also be used as an antiviral and fever reducer. There are some cautions when using ginger. It can decrease blood sugar levels, increase absorption of oral medications and might cause uterine problems in pregnant dogs. Too much ginger on an empty stomach can actually cause a dog to become nauseated.
Rooibos tea was the one herbal tea that I couldn’t find any negative side affects. It’s packed with over thirty powerful antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and doesn’t contain caffeine. With its natural sweet taste, dogs seem to love it.
The best way to use tea for pets is topical. Here’s a few interesting ways to use teas.
Brush your dog’s teeth with green tea. Green tea is great for oral health and helps kill the bacteria that cause plaque build up, cavities and gum disease
Use green tea as an astringent for healing minor open sores. The antibacterial properties of green tea are great for drying out and healing hot spots.
Spray your dog’s coat with Chamomile tea. It makes your dog smell great and, since Chamomile kills bacteria, it can sooth and relieve itchy skin
Here are a few tea recipes that will help make your doggie more comfortable.
Ginger Tummy Tea
Pour a cup of boiling water over several slices of peeled fresh ginger root and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove ginger slices and cool. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Ginger Tummy Tea to your pet’s water about a ½ hour before leaving the house. This tea can be administered every 2 to 3 hours while traveling. Keep tea in the refrigerator or cooler and discard after 48 hours.
Brew a couple of cups of chamomile tea, cool and place in a plastic spray bottle. To use, lightly spray your dog before brushing. Keep tea in the refrigerator and discard after 48 hours. If your dog has itchy skin, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the tea.
Remember, I’m not a veterinarian and am only sharing what I learned. Only your veterinarian knows what’s best for your particular pet, so before trying any natural or herbal treatments, always consult with him or her first. Please be a good pet parent and keep your pet safe.