Dandelions are known as the gardener’s enemy. Try as they may, no one can seem to get rid of this resilient weed. The plant is so pervasive and frustrating, you may be shocked to hear some people grow dandelions on purpose! Dandelions aren’t merely a blight on gardens—these yellow beauties are a gold mine filled with disease-fighting nutrients for your pet.
Keep reading to learn why dandelion root is one of the best plants in your garden for pets.
What is dandelion root?
You’ve seen dandelions before. Their bright yellow flowers are difficult to ignore, especially when they blanket large swaths of grass. These yellow blooms sit on top of long green stems, and spiky leaves grow close to the ground. In the spring, the yellow petals give way to white, fluffy seeds. Wind carries the seeds through the air, allowing them to grow in different areas.
Many consider dandelions a weed since they’re so common. Homeowners are locked in a constant battle of removing dandelions from their property. To the average person, dandelions are nothing more than a pesky intruder on lawns and flower beds. But to herbalists, dandelion root is a precious herb!
Herbalists cultivate almost every part of the dandelion for its nutritious and healing properties. For instance, the yellow petals are packed with lecithin, polyphenols and antioxidants. These nutrients support proper functioning in your pet’s vital organs such as the liver and gallbladder. The leaves contain trace minerals like potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and more. They give your pup vitamins A, C, K, D and B complex—not to mention twice the amount of protein as spinach!
Medicinal uses for dandelion
Dandelion is an all-natural alternative to conventional medicine for various uses. Here are the most common ones:
- Flush out excessive fluids: Dandelion leaves are considered a diuretic. Diuretics are often prescribed to pets with heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease because these conditions force the body to retain more fluid. Eating diuretic foods will make your pet urinate more frequently. Urine is a waste product the body uses to expel harmful toxins, so frequent urination can ramp up the detoxification process.
- Disinfect open wounds: Dandelions possess mild antimicrobial properties, specifically in the flower and root. Dabbing a little bit of dandelion tea on cuts may help prevent secondary infections. To make the tea, steep dandelions in a cup of hot water. Allow to cool, then gently apply to the affected area with a clean cloth.
- Stimulate your pet’s appetite: The dinner salad tradition started with dandelion leaves. For centuries, people would nibble on the leaves before a meal to warm up their digestive systems. Dandelion leaves increase saliva and stomach bile production, which makes you feel hungry. Consider feeding dandelion leaves to your pet if they struggle with a condition that causes loss of appetite.
As a general rule, always speak with a veterinarian before giving dandelions to your pet. They’ll guide you on proper doses and how to administer dandelion root. While pet parents can find dandelions growing in their backyards, veterinarians recommend feeding pets a dandelion root supplement. Outdoor dandelions are usually sprayed with herbicide, which is extremely toxic to pets. Supplements are free of herbicide and manufactured to give your pet the optimal amount of nutrients.
Health benefits for your pet
Aside from treating specific ailments, dandelion root supports various systems for full-body wellness. Here’s how dandelions can keep your pet healthy:
- Reduce chronic inflammation: Dandelions contain compounds like polyphenols, alkaloids and flavonoids that reduce inflammation throughout the body. These anti-inflammatory properties can lower your pet’s risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Dandelion root can also ease indigestion for pets suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.
- Eliminate oxidative stress: Free radicals are harmful molecules that attack normal bodily cells. During this process, the cells are put under oxidative stress. The damage that results from oxidative stress makes cells more vulnerable to mutation and disease. Dandelion root is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals commonly found in a pet’s environment.
- Detox the liver: Your pet’s liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body. Since the liver constantly handles dangerous substances, it needs the occasional detox to function at peak performance. Dandelion root stimulates bile flow to move toxins out of the body. It also increases circulation, which helps the liver and kidneys process toxins a lot faster.
Before you grab a bottle of weed killer, remember that dandelion root is a coveted herb in traditional medicine. The weeds you want to eliminate are the same ones that have saved countless pets from life-threatening illnesses. Their myriad health benefits will give you a whole new perspective on dandelions!