Echinacea is popular at this time of year when it is widely used to strengthen and support the immune system when coughs and colds are rife; but don’t forget that this can be a useful herbal remedy for our pets as well.
Echinacea is a herb, native to North America, that has traditionally been used to help strengthen the immune system, helping the body to fight infection. It can be a useful support for pets when they are fighting infection. For example, when a cat has flu or a dog needs a boost to their immune system to help them recover from a bout of kennel cough.
To be most effective echinacea needs to be given early on in an infection and should be taken regularly. It acts to support disease resistance in several ways. It attacks and removes bacteria from the body, it stimulates the lymphatic system helping to eliminate waste from the tissues and it has numerous other actions to help rid the body of infection.
Unfortunately Echinacea tincture is horrible tasting (and really tingles on the tongue), so most animals won’t take it readily! For best results get a glycerin-based preparation, as this is much more palatable. Dosage and duration of use vary depending on the individual case, but as a general rule, cats and dogs can usually be given around ten drops of the glycerin tincture three times a day for one to two weeks.
Finally, do remember that echinacea can only be expected to support a healthy immune system. So, if your pet is malnourished or immune compromised in any way (for instance by poor diet or a preexisting disease), then these factors need to be addressed, before you can expect echinacea to do its job properly!
It’s always a good idea to consult a holistic vet before using echinacea, especially if you are uncertain about your pet’s level of disease resistance.