How to prepare a simple Nettle remedy which should be effective for treating seasonal allergy in dogs

Studies show that when taken orally, an extract made of common garden nettle (Urtica dioica) can inhibit several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as reducing histamine activity (part of the immune reaction that makes you itchy and why you might take anti-histamine) as well as the inhibition of mast cell tryptase which prevents the release of a variety of pro-inflammatory mediators that cause the symptoms of hay fevers (Roschek et al. 2009).

fresh stinging nettles

The simple nettle extract they made also inhibited prostaglandin formation. These fellas are the reason that so much Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) such as Meloxicam (Metacam), Carprophen (Rimadyl), Loxicom, Dermaxx etc are prescribed.

This is all very good news for anyone suffering the side effects of a mysterious allergy that want to reduce their use of these drugs in their pets, for very good reason. The general dog population suffers a colossal amount of mysterious allergy, most of which we know is caused by a dry-processed diet. We know this as dogs with mysterious recurring skin and gut upset are the top visitors to our site, making up perhaps 75% of our 100k visitors a month, judging by the pages they’re reading, and the vast majority of these cases are alleviated by a simple change to a new diet. Most vets are not disseminating this knowledge, so you need NSAID’s like Rimadyl to tell the immune system to quit complaining. More than 4mil US dogs have received Rimadyl alone. This is an utter disgrace as these powerful drugs come with a whole host of potential side effects

Since Rimadyl’s 1997 launch, the FDA has received reports of about 1,000 dogs that died or were put to sleep and 7,000 more that had bad reactions after taking the drug, records and official estimates indicate. The FDA says such events are significantly underreported.

“Most Dogs Do Well on Rimadyl, Except the Ones That Die”, published in Dogs Naturally Magazine

How does it work?

We all know the nettle has fine hairs all over the plant (almost like thin, hollow glass tubes) that easily penetrate our skin,  releasing formic acid, histamine and acetylcholine, chemicals that will cause pain and irritation. But here’s the interesting bit, and much like the way we can use venom extracts, if the hairs come in contact with a part of your body that’s in pain, the original pain can decrease, thanks to a whole host of other chemicals it contains, including thymol, carvacrol, cymene, anisole, terpene, phenylpropene derivatives and eucalyptol, just in case you were wondering!

When taken orally, Scientists at PennState Hershey University believe the nettle in this instance minimize your body’s levels of inflammatory chemicals whilst interfering with the way pain is transmitted in your body. In this respect, nettle urtication (deliberately stinging of the skin) has been effective in the treatment of arthritis, lower back pain and a range of other maladies (Alford 2008). A 2013 study published found that nettle extract is more effective than a host of other traditional tinctures in easing inflammatory disorders.

And we haven’t even started talking about the nutritional content of nettles. They are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, silicon, iron and magnesium, as well as a range of antioxidants flavinoids, chlorophyll, and are also a potent diuretic, boosting kidney function (so take note any dogs on kidney meds, blood pressure meds or blood sugar issues, please discuss with your vet first).

How to prepare a nettle tonic for your dog:

Step 1. Harvest the tips of really fresh, bright green nettle leaves and stems (obviously make sure you’re wearing protective gloves etc) and put them into a small container, a mug would be enough (lower down leaves and stems are less effective).

Step 2. Immerse the leaves and stems completely in boiling hot water and a good pinch of good quality salt (asides helping the process this will add electrolytes which itchy dogs can benefit from) and leave stand for 10mins.

Step 3. Now you can either strain this liquid and use it (weak) or blitz the leaf and water mix and use in their food (one teaspoon per 15kg of body weight). And no, this liquid cannot sting them, to test this, drop some on your skin, and then there’s. When you see no reaction you know they’re safe.

Step 4. Put the rest of the mixture into an ice cube tray and make little ready-to-go ice cubes for later use. Much easier!

My good pal and wonderful herbalist Jo Arbon of holistichound.ie recommends that for topical treatments of stiff joints you can make a masceration out of nettles by mushing up the tips in something wonderful like almond oil. Leave it there in a sealed jar for 2-3 weeks, strain out the bits and massage in, though big, oily coats aren’t for everyone!

For longer-term, more hardcore users you can make yourself up a tincture by soaking nettles in a sealed jar of alcohol for 2-3 weeks. This stuff is even more effective but harder to make. As you only add a drop or two you don’t need to worry about the ehtanol content but if you are, you can burn it off by heating to 70 degrees for a while.

Got a dog with a stubborn itch? Then check out the most successful article on our website – top 10 tips for itchy dogs!

References Used

Alford, L. (2008). Urtication for musculoskeletal pain? Pain Med, 9(7):963-5

Roschek, B., Fink, R.C., McMichael, M. and Alberte, R.S. (2009). Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research, 23(7):920-6

Most Dogs Do Well on Rimadyl, Except the Ones That Die, Chris Adams Staff, reporter for Wall Street Journal

 

About the Author:

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.