The world of natural herbal medicine offers pet parents hundreds of choices to consider when treating our dogs. The ability to grow our own medicine and use what Mother Nature provides for healing is incredibly valuable. And sometimes, even the most common plants have some of the best properties.
Many of us have them in our garden beds. Their bright oranges and yellows and simple but beautiful petals make them an easily recognizable flower. But calendula, or pot marigold, does far more than just pretty-up our gardens! Calendula for dogs is a much celebrated herb for healing.
So, what can you expect from calendula, and how can you use it to help your animal?
What is Calendula?
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) belongs to the plant family Asteraceae and is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, although it can now be found brightening gardens all around the world. It is a very common plant used in herbal medicine.
A broad array of medicinal compounds in the flowers of the plant, including beneficial essential oils, flavonoids, saponins, triterpene alcohols, and carotenes are what give it its power.
The healing properties of calendula:
That’s a lot of antis. And we like that – it’s why calendula for dogs is so widely used in the holistic world.
How to Use Calendula for Dogs
Historically, calendula was used for headaches, eye infections, fever, and toothaches. People put it in soups and salads, and used the petals as natural dyes for all kinds of foods and textiles.
Today we use it for all types of herbal healing, particularly when it comes to our pets. Calendula has an exceptional safety profile and is safe to use for dogs of all ages (just avoid using on pregnant animals because it may cause uterine contractions).
You can use calendula for dogs both externally and internally.
Calendula is the ideal go-to for many minor first aid situations, including:
- insect bites
- cuts and scrapes
- dry, cracked skin
Calendula is used to keep wounds clean and help new tissue to grow. It can help relieve tenderness, redness, or inflammation at the site of the wound, speed up cell reproduction, and inhibit bacteria growth at the site of injury.
Additionally, the antibacterial agents in calendula can help prevent secondary infection, which also helps boost healing.
It’s also very moisturizing, which makes it good for soothing dry, cracked paw pads and noses.
Calendula is just as safe for your dog to consume as it is to use it externally.
Internally, primarily as a tea rinse (see recipe below), it can be used to help reduce inflammation or ulceration of the digestive or urinary tracts, where it assists with the drainage of lymph-engorged tissues and reduces inflammation. It can also stimulate the immune system, aid in liver function, and calm the nervous system.
Many herbalists recommend it for IBD, all kinds of colitis, fungal and bacterial infections, post-infection as a lymphatic decongestant, or for lingering low grade infection.
How to Make Calendula Recipes at Home
All 3 of these recipes for calendula for dogs are useful to have on hand when needed. The tea is much quicker to make than the others, so for the oil and salve it’s a good idea to think ahead!
Calendula Tea Rinse
Bring one quart of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup of the fresh dried ﬂowers then remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep until cool. Strain through a sieve
- toothaches (apply to gums)
- conjunctivitis (rinse the eye to relieve inflammation and irritation)
- rinse wounds to prevent infection
- add to drinking water to help relieve minor GI irritations
Fill a glass jar with loosely packed fresh petals, then top with olive oil, filling the jar to within 1 inch of the top. If you’re using dried calendula, fill the jar halfway to leave room for expansion. Seal the jar tightly and give it a good shake. Place the jar in a paper bag and store near a warm, sunny window. Give the jar a good shake every day. Let it sit and infuse for 4-6 weeks, then strain it well and pour the oil in a clean, glass jar. Store in a cool, dark place, away from heat, until needed.
- apply gently to soothe itchy, inflamed skin
- moisturizes dry, cracked paw pads or noses
Place 2 tablespoons of shredded or chopped beeswax and 1 cup calendula-infused oil in a double boiler. Gently heat the mixture, stirring frequently. Once the beeswax is melted, pour the mixture into a clean glass jar. Store in a dark cupboard away from heat.
- apply gently to cuts, scrapes, bites, hot spots, or other wounds
- use before a walk to protect your dog’s paw pads from winter salt and ice
- apply on cracked paw pads and noses for extra moisture
As a safe, gentle, all natural healing herb, calendula for dogs really does provide for a wealth of beneficial uses. Keeping dried calendula flowers in a jar or a pot growing on your windowsill all year long gives you natural first aid whenever you need it. Thank you Mother Nature!