Since Georgia was first diagnosed with cancer and I became aware of all of the environmental toxins that can affect our dogs’ health, I have been especially cautious of lawn chemicals, given their direct link to various types of cancer. As a result, my lawn will probably not be featured on the cover of any Home and Garden magazines. Instead of a perfectly manicured, solid green and weed-free yard, I have chosen to accept the stray weed and live with patches of creeping charlie in order to feel confident that when my dog Sampson plays outside and lays in the grass that he is not inhaling or ingesting toxic chemicals.
Needless to say, I was extremely happy to have recently discovered that one of the most common lawn “weeds” is actually a healing plant in disguise. The Dandelion. A much maligned lawn invader that is found virtually everywhere, according to the book “All You Ever Wanted to Know About Herbs for Pets,” Dandelions are actually “one of the most complete plant foods on earth.” While good for any dog (or human), they may be especially beneficial to dogs with cancer. Here are some reasons why:
- Dandelions are packed with Vitamin A and C — powerful antioxidants that help to protect the body from cell damage caused by free-radicals.
- Dandelions are 20% protein — fitting right in with a low carb, moderate protein, high Omega 3 fatty acid cancer diet.
- Dandelions also have Vitamins K, D and B complex, plus iron, manganese, phosphorus and potassium — all important to maintaining a healthy body, and all in forms that are easily accessible to the body without straining the liver or kidneys.
- Dandelions aid in digestion — often compromised by the fight against cancer, leading to cancer cachexia (weight loss). They can help the body absorb more nutrients and can stimulate appetite.
- Dandelions are a natural diuretic — helping the body to rid itself of toxins, and perhaps a gentler alternative to drugs such as Furosemide, which is often given along with Cytoxan during the chemotherapy process.
- Dandelions are a great liver tonic — the liver is the main organ responsible for filtering out all of the harsh chemicals we often have to use to treat cancer, and is often strained during the chemotherapy process.
- Dandelions have a mild analgesic (painkilling) effect — while not as effective as aspirin, they can be a more gentle alternative for mild cases of pain or discomfort resulting from cancer treatments or cancer itself.
Did you have any idea that such a useful healing herb was right in your own backyard? To use dandelions, you can simply pick the plant, leaves, stems and flower, and chop up to mix with your dog’s food. You can also use the plants dried or in a water infusion (like a tea) or a tincture. As with any herbs, it’s usually best to start out with smaller doses and work your way up depending on how your dog responds and their particular needs. You may also want to consult with a holistic veterinarian to determine what “serving size” is right for your dog.
ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: Do NOT use any Dandelions that may have come into contact with pesticides or other lawn chemicals as this could do much more harm than good. Use fresh Dandelions only when you are absolutely sure that they are safe, or consider growing them in a pot at home. Yes, people may think you’re crazy, but you will know that you are growing one of nature’s hidden treasures.