Spring has sprung, and we are amazed at all the helpful herbs that are growing in our home garden. Dr. Jason's yard is full of flowering fruit trees, vegetable sprouts and not-quite-yet-weeded perennial herbs. Here are some of Jason's tips for getting the most out of your garden to support your pet's health at this time of the year.
Did you know that those pesky dandelions actually have medicinal benefits?
Here is Jason and Arnica's 15-year-old cocker spaniel, Maggie. Humoring us, she sitting in a patch of Dandelions beside an Oregon grape bush. Likely dandelions are at the same maturity in your yard, with young leaves, and the occasional flower. As long as you don't spray your lawn, feel free to pull up some of those dandelions, and chop up a root to supplement your dog's diet. Dandelion roots are good for digestion and liver health. The youngest leaves taste great in salads for humans too!
Oregon grape is indigenous to the Okanagan, and is a very helpful antimicrobial tonifying herb for the liver, urinary tract and skin. Don't just go plucking the flowers and spiky leaves off the bush, however. It's actually the root of the plant that has the powerful medicine. Jason uses Oregon grape in his Liver Cleanse tincture, as well as in some custom herbal remedies. Arnica's mother makes a mean jam out of the berries... But you need to use lots of sugar!
Our little five month old puppy Tully has been growing and growing. (79 lbs at the time of this letter!) He is now eating about half of his diet in raw, homemade food. To combat the raw chicken breath and aid digestion, we often chop up the mint growing wildly in our garden, and add it to his food dish.
Along with the obvious fresh shoots of catnip, one of the delicacies at this time of the year for cats is honeysuckle. If you have a honeysuckle bush in your garden and are giving it a pruning, be sure to set aside some branches for your cats. Chop the branches up into 6 inch twigs. These are super fun toys for your cat to bat around, and a great free exercise enticement. If you have a coffee grinder that can handle it, you can also dry the twigs, and then grind them up into a powder. This is a delicious treat for your cat, and can encourage them to scratch at the cat tree.
(Featured above - Laughlin, Tully, and the chickens Haily and Keelee.)
We don't often talk about rodents, because Jason is not an exotic veterinarian. But at home, we have a hamster that loves this particular spring treat, and thought you might like to know about it. If you are pruning your apple tree, set aside a few of the straight shoots. You can cut them into 6 inch twigs, laid them out to dry and then give them to your hamster over the year as chew toys. The apple twigs are free and full of antioxidants for the little rodents.
Our last tip is to encourage bees in your garden. Not only are bees incredibly important for growing herbs, but they are crucial to our food supply. We usually have many bee-friendly plants growing, but this year Jason is also hatching mason bees in the backyard for the first time. He's hoping they will help our cherry tree pollinate better.
You don't have to grow fruit trees or farm honey to support bees, however. Even if you live in an apartment, you can encourage our local bee population by planting a little pot of catnip or mint out on your patio. Enjoy the herbs through the summer... And provide a little more habitat for these important insects.
We hope you enjoy these springtime herbs, and make the most of them for your family, furry members included. If you are interested in supporting your pet's health preventatively, or addressing chronic health challenges with herbs, Dr. Jason would be more than happy to chat with you in a consultation.
Warmest springtime wishes,
Dr. Jason, Arnica, Aleks, Hannah and Kristen
PS: Did you know? Dr. Jason is working on his post-graduate diploma in herbal medicine from the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies in Australia.