We love spices for flavor & health but did you know spices can help your dog with better digestion, prevent worms & arthritis, etc. Let's find out..
Many people have asked me if I give spices to my dogs; if I add the spices to my home-cooked dogs food. The answer is "yes!" but despite being a spice lover and an avid fan of proactive disease prevention, I do not add all the spices to my dogs' food. I use certain spices but I use them well and with some thought and methodology and this is what I am going to discuss with you in this article today.
Spices are powerful culinary ingredients that not only add flavor and aroma to the recipes but they are protective against many, if not all, diseases. Take cayenne, for example - it is so powerful that it can stop a heart attack in humans within 30 seconds! Ginger powder can prevent aches and pains in winter months and cardamom helps keep the body cool in summer! Pretty impressive!
So, with this thought, let's start our discussion today on what spices can do for your dog.
1. Cloves - My first spice of choice for dogs is cloves. I use clove powder a lot in my home-made dog food. I have been using clove powder since a long time and have had nothing but excellent results with it for my dogs. When I use a spice for my dogs, it is with certain expectations - it is really not for taste or the color it gives to the recipe or even the aroma. In the case of dogs, I use spices for health benefits.
So, what benefits does cloves powder give me that I continue to use it so often?
Benefits of Clove Powder for Dogs -
1. Prevents & Expels Worms - Dogs are exposed to worms by being around other infected dog's feces or by ingesting fleas or fecal matter. As a result, tapeworms, roundworms, whip worms or hookworms can enter the dog's intestinal tract very easily. This will cause discomfort in dogs such as scooting, bloated belly (round worms), diarrhea (roundworms and hookworms), weight loss (hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms), lethargy (hookworms or tapeworms), vomiting, anemia and thus, pale gums.
Cloves are excellent in preventing all this headache - they are naturally anti-parasitic and this is why they are used in many holistic remedies that focus on expelling worms. Cloves are anti-bacterial and help flush out these pathogens from the body. When pathogens are flushed out, your dog experiences higher immunity, which naturally leads to perfect health.
2. Analgesic in Nature - Clove oil is used for toothache. Why? Because it is naturally analgesic and numbs the pain. Now, I do NOT use clove oil in cooking for dogs but my point here is that clove powder, when used in dog food, could help prevent aches and pains in an aging dog. None of my dogs have ever had arthritis - not even the ones who have passed the rainbow bridge and were quite old. I feel it has a lot to do with cloves in their diet along with the fact that they were kept on 100% plant-based, fresh, home cooked diet. Everything helps!
How To Add Cloves Powder in Dog's Food -
1. You can simply add a pinch (start with very less first) to your dog's home-cooked meals. Add the powder when you are cooking the food - not at the end. This is because when cloves are cooked along with the food, they become less pungent and less strong. This helps in keeping it safe for dogs and making sure that the dog will still eat the food and not turn away due to not liking the new smell of 'something' in its food.
2. Another tip is to buy some pumpkin puree, add a pinch of cloves powder and mix it all with some banana. Serve this to your dog with some cooked brown rice and see if he likes it. Organic canned pumpkin puree is easy to find and can be used for adding new spices to your dog's taste.
3. Use cloves powder on-and-off, not continuously. Cloves are a warming spice and this means, cloves are excellent during winter months. However, to prevent parasites in dogs, you can add cloves powder for about 2 weeks in summer and then off for another 3-4 months. If your dog has issues with worms, then, you can adjust accordingly. I give cloves powder to my dogs on-and-off for a month by adding in their home made food and then, I stop for 3-4 months and so on. This is what I do and so I am writing here. You can develop your own regimen according to your dog's needs.
2. Cardamom - This has to be my second favorite and for very good reasons. Cardamom is a cooling spice - meaning, it cools down the excess body heat. Now, what is excess body heat? It is another way to describe inflammation in the body and you never want that for yourself or your dog. This is why I absolutely love cardamom. Cardamom is respected so much in Ayurveda that it is considered as "The Queen of Spices." Pretty impressive, isn't it? Now, let's talk about why I would pick this spice for dogs.
ALL my dogs are rescues and have always been rescues. So, this means what?! They all came from a background of toxic kibble, a.k.a 'dog food,' as well as chemicals filled life in the form of 'heartworm prevention,' flea and tick sprays, shampoos, etc. I can immediately tell that their digestion is out of track and needs healing.
Instead of taking them to the vets, I do my own holistic, ethical treatment that does NOT involve drugs, needles and medicines for lifetime! I simply start the new dog on my home cooked meals and I start giving them cardamom powder with each meal. The beauty of home-cooked food is that it is very easy to add beneficial ingredients to the dog's food. Once I am done cooking the rice, lentils, veggie mix and adding some more nourishing ingredients, I simply add cardamom at the end, mix and serve it to the dog. The dog eats the food - cardamom reaches the tummy and we are all happy!
Benefits of Cardamom for Dogs -
1. Cardamom Heals the Dog's Digestive Tract - That's correct. Cardamom is a very powerful, yet gentle digestive. If you ever go to Indian restaurants or homes, you will be served cardamom at the end of the meal, along with some fennel. Cardamom reduces the toxic build-up in the stomach and it helps flush out the excess mucus and congestion from the digestive tract. Because it aids in increasing the digestive enzymes, cardamom reduces gas, bloating, nausea, indigestion and such issues. And since it is a cooling spice, it calms down the inflammation in the dog's tummy. So, basically, cardamom excretes the toxins, aids in better production of digestive enzymes and calms the underlying inflammation in the dog.
2. Cardamom Helps Dog's Bad Breath! - Cardamom is aromatic and this helps the dog eat the spice with no fuss. However, another great benefit of cardamom is that it helps freshen the doggy's mouth and helps reduce the bad breath. Also, when we use spices and add them to a whole food plant based diet for dogs, it is inevitable that the toxic waste that has accumulated over the years will flush out. Once the toxic waste flushes out, you will naturally notice that your dog's bad breath is gone! That's a reason to love spices and a great reason to love cardamom!
How To Add Cardamom Powder in Dog's Food -
1. You can simply add a pinch (start with very less first) to your dog's home-cooked meals. Add the powder at the end - this is because cardamom is light spice and does not need to be cooked for so long. I add it at the end and have had no issues. For a tiny 10 lbs dog, add about 1/4th to 1/5th teaspoon first and see. Adjust accordingly.
3. Ginger - The third spice we talk about is ginger. Ginger is great during winter months as it warms the body, prevents aches and pains, and is a great natural support for dogs with arthritis or any other painful conditions. But, do I give ginger to my dogs during the summer months?! NO. NO, I DO NOT. NEVER EVER!
Ginger is a very warm spice - that is why it is eaten during the winter months as ginger tea in India and China. In both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger is written as warm spice and is better used during the cold months. Sure, we use it in recipes, but, for better health, that should be avoided in hot summer months. Give ginger or ginger powder to your dog in winter months - not during hot, humid weather.
Benefits of Ginger for Dogs -
1. Ginger Adds Warmth to the Dog's Body in Winter Months - Ginger is excellent in giving warmth to the dog's body during cold winters. This is why adding ginger is very helpful for dogs who have arthritis, stiffness, spinal issues, and any other aches and pains.
2. Ginger is a Digestive for Your Dog - Ginger stimulates the digestive juices and enzymes in the stomach. It is helpful in increasing the digestive 'Agni' - the digestive fire. Dogs eat either room temperature kibble or cold food like cold water or 'doggy ice cream' so when all the time a dog is eating either cold or neutral temperature food, why won't it have weakened digestion? This weak digestion leads to dryness and stiffness in the body. That is why adding ginger to a dog's diet is beneficial to stimulate the digestive fire and increase the healthy enzymes.
How To Add Ginger in Dog's Food -
1. You can add fresh ginger or ginger powder to your dog's home-cooked meals. Ginger is great in a way that it can be chopped and added while cooking or little ginger powder can be sprinkled at the end. I prefer fresh ginger and I chop it, let it boil in water in which I then add lentils, rice, etc. This way, I am cooking my dog's food in 'ginger tea.'
2. Remember, ginger is a spice - not a veggie. Use less first, otherwise it could lead to doggie diarrhea.
4. Turmeric - I will not spend much time on turmeric because this spice has taken a life of its own! It has fame and we all know the benefits of turmeric for health. The same benefits such as cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant power, preventing aches and pains, and so on, apply when we feed turmeric to our dogs.
How To Add Turmeric in Dog's Food -
1. The only thing I would like to add is to always give some black pepper to your dog with turmeric. This aids in better absorption by the body. Also, turmeric must always be given with some healthy fats like coconut oil, hemp oil, etc. This is because turmeric is a fat-soluble spice.
2. I add turmeric to my dogs food while cooking. This makes turmeric more digestible and helps it gets absorbed by the digestive tract and into the body, rather than just coming out in the form of loose stools in dogs. Turmeric is not a fruit - it is a spice, and it needs to be treated as such. Spices need to be cooked - not taken raw, for maximum absorption.
3. As a side note to help you more, only light spices, like cardamom or saffron or black pepper, should be added at the end of the recipe.
5. Cayenne - My favorite spice! It was Dr.John Christopher, an American herbalist, who used cayenne to stop his patients' heart attacks. He wrote how in 35 yrs of service, he never lost a patient to heart attack and this was due to cayenne pepper tea he would give them. If cayenne is such a saint of a spice!, then, what can i do for your dog?!
Benefits of Cayenne for Dogs -
1. Cayenne is Heart Healthy for Dogs - We know cayenne is heart healthy and also that cayenne is excellent for blood circulation. It boosts energy and prevents clots from forming. It is well known that cayenne helps the blood pressure by regulating the blood flow, keeps the arteries, capillaries, nerves and the heart strong. This is especially helpful for dogs who have any kind of heart disease or malformation.
2. Cayenne Prevents Cancer & Helps Digestion - Cayenne is also a great preventive against cancer. It is also helpful in boosting digestion. So, with all these benefits, why won't you share some cayenne with your dog?
3. Cayenne for Arthritis & Aches & Pains in Dogs - Cayenne is used in many salves, creams, gels that are made for pain relief. This is because it boosts blood circulation, helps the energy move in the body and is a natural analgesic (just like cloves). It is used to help stop bleeding and can help in wounds, cuts, etc. But for dogs that have stiffness or trouble walking due to arthritis, adding cayenne to their food can make a huge difference.
How To Add Cayenne in Dog's Food -
1. Start with only about a pinch worth of amount. Add cayenne when boiling the rice, quinoa, lentils, etc. Cooking cayenne will allow its sharp spiciness to mellow down a little.
2. It is best to give cayenne during the cold months but little bit of cayenne can be added during summer months in the dog's diet. Cayenne is a warm spice - it increases the body's temperature. It is more gentle then ginger but still, use more of this spice in winter, than in summer.
3. Adding little bit of cayenne is the best way to go so your dog won't feel the heat from the spiciness and won't waste the food.
This is it! I hope this article has increased your knowledge about spices and why it is necessary to understand their qualities and what they do in the body along with the best seasons to take them. Don't just go and start adding spices to your dog's diet out of excitement. There is a methodology that needs to be respected and followed so that it works for the body and not against it. Taking seasons into consideration will help you narrow down your spice list and the budget as well. This in turn, will allow you to diligently add each spice without fail, throughout the year, in your dog's diet and help keep him or her healthy.
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