Tuft’s Vet School Claims to Bust Myths of Natural Remedies

San Francisco is the land of the Myth Busters – in fact it’s filmed pretty close to the Main Campground – so we were psyched to see that Tuft’s Veterinary School has gotten into some myth busting of their own. In June’s Your Dog newsletter, Tuft’s busts 7 myths about natural remedies that are touted as being good for your dogs but aren’t.

Is Garlic a Good, Natural Way to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System?

While promoted as a natural way to boost immune systems, treat ear mites or minor wounds, and keep fleas away, garlic can cause hemolytic anemia (which is the destruction of red blood cells). You may not notice a problem until you’ve been giving your dog garlic for 3 to 5 days. Symptoms include tiring easily or passing urine with an orange or red tint.

Can Comfrey Help Heal a Wound?

This is an herb with bell-shaped leaves and black roots that is said to cause the cells of a wound to regenerate quickly if applied externally. Comfrey is also promoted as good source of B vitamins and amino acids if taken internally. Comfrey has pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have been linked to liver damage. So licking a topical application or ingesting comfrey has great risks.

Does Wormwood Work as a Deworming Medicine?

Wormwood is most commonly used as a natural deworming medicine that is sprinkled over your dog’s food. At low doses it doesn’t work, and at high doses it can cause irreversible liver and kidney damage.

Does Anise Have Digestive or Respiratory Benefits for Dogs?

This is the licorice-flavored seed found in both Italian baked treats and liquor. It is said to provide digestive and respiratory benefits to dogs when baked into their treats or sprinkled on their food. It also works on dogs like catnip works on cats. However if ingested in larger amounts it can cause gastrointestinal tract irritation and minor central nervous system depression.

Is Aloe Vera Good for Dogs?

Aloe vera is suggested both for topical application (just like how it’s used for humans) as well as mixed into food to address constipation, detoxification, and to strengthen a dog’s immune system. However, aloe vera contains saponins, which can produce vomiting, a loss of appetite, lessened activity, diarrhea and tremors in dogs.

Can Chamomile Reduce Your Dog’s Anxiety?

As in humans, chamomile is promoted as a way to reduce anxiety in dogs, but chamomile may pose a risk to some dogs because of its anticoagulant properties. There is risk to dogs scheduled for surgery, dogs whose blood does not clot sufficiently, and long-term use may cause bleeding tendencies even to dogs whose blood clotted normally in the past.

Does Lavender Oil Help Calm Dogs?

Lavender oil is a popular remedy as an anti-bacterial and nerve soother. Studies confirm that lavender has some calming effect on dogs, however lavender can be toxic if ingested, causing liver or kidney damage or even death.
So what do you think? Is Tufts Veterinary School right and the risks associated with these natural remedies outweigh their benefits, or is this an example of veterinarians trying to scare pet parents away from solutions that they can purchase without a visit to their vet’s office?

Thanks for reading!