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Ayurveda for Dogs: Does It Work? Our Vet Explains Facts, Risks & FAQ

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By Dr. Emma Chandley

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Written by

Dr. Emma Chandley

BVetMed PGCertSAS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Ayurvedic medicine means “Science of Life.” It is one of the oldest forms of holistic medicine thought to originate in 6,000 BC. Ayurvedic medicine is considered by some to be a holistic approach to canine medicine. The aim is to achieve a balanced lifestyle using natural practices.

Many humans benefit hugely from following lifestyle practices and using natural supplements associated with Ayurvedic medicine. Can our dogs benefit from these practices too? This article will delve into the potential rewards that can be gained from Ayurvedic medicine by our dogs.

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What Is Ayurvedic Medicine?

Ayurvedic medicine describes the ancient Indian medical system. It is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and is considered to be a traditional healthcare system in India. It is based on ancient writings which are centered around a holistic and natural approach to both mental and physical health.

The system describes the powers and qualities of herbs according to their properties in nature. Herbs can be used in combination or alone for different purposes. It is a system that uses eight branches of healing, with surgical, psychological, and herbal remedies being described. Dog owners who use Ayurvedic medicine believe that Ayurveda can be applied to promote a harmonious balance within your dog’s spirit, body, and mind.

Ayurvedic treatment is a combination of:
  • Products (usually made from plants, however sometimes derived from minerals, metals, or animals)
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle

It has been documented in ancient Ayurvedic texts that early veterinary medicine was based on animal welfare, management with natural remedies, and surgical procedures.

The herbs used in Ayurvedic practices are generally well-researched. The herbs mentioned have been used for thousands of years and there is a large base of anecdotal evidence of their healing powers.

Common herbs used for the treatment of dogs when practicing Ayurvedic medicine include:
  • Ashwagandha
  • Turmeric
  • Amla
  • Boswellia Serrata
  • Ginger
  • Moringa

Owners can learn to customize the different practices to suit themselves and their dogs to optimize results.

How Is Ayurveda Implemented?

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Photo Credit: rchat, Shutterstock

Ayurvedic medicine will involve first determining your dog’s body type, which is done with the five elements in mind. Determining the body type of your dog enables you to learn how to bring about a harmonious balance in their spirit, body, and mind. This, in theory, enables your dog to achieve optimal health status, by functioning at their optimal level.

Ayurvedic practices also link the importance of the impact your dog has on you and other humans they encounter. Our dog’s well-being affects many aspects of our own lives too.

Ancient scripts describe the five vital elements which manifest as the Tridosha. The Tridosha are three metabolic forces that comprise the mind and body.

They are called:
  • Vata (Ether and air)
  • Pitta (Fire and water)
  • Kapha (Water and earth)

It is believed that these three metabolic forces control all physical, biological, and physiopathological functions of the mind, body, and consciousness. They determine the personality of the dog as well as many important physiological aspects.

It is necessary to achieve a balance of the dosha for optimal health. There are lots of different combinations of the doshas, and these combinations remain constant in each individual dog but are subject to change from environmental factors. This means that there are many things we can do to give our pets the best chance to maintain good health.

Using Ayurvedic practices, it is believed that food is medicine. Choosing the correct ingredients to make up a balanced diet is vital to balance the doshas of your dog.

Common uses include:
  • Turmeric, coriander, and cumin for balancing digestion
  • Ashwagandha for calming effects
  • Amla for immune system support
  • Boswellia Serrata for anti-inflammatory action
  • Ginger for reduction of pain and swelling
  • Moringa for immunity boost

What Happens If You Miss a Dose?

Ayurvedic medicine is not prescribed in the same way as a course of antibiotics might be, so missing a dose is not as critical. If one dose of an herbal remedy is missed, just carry on the treatment as advised, never give a double dose of the herbs. For surgical treatments, if one is missed you can rearrange your appointment with your vet to continue the course.

Potential Side Effects of Ayurveda Medicine

vet holding the dog in the clinic
Photo Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Due to the nature and thought process behind Ayurvedic medicine, there are minimal side effects, however, some Ayurvedic preparations can include minerals, gems, and metals. It has been advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the presence of metals may cause harm to patients.

One survey documented people having elevated levels of lead and mercury in their blood. Arsenic poisoning has been mentioned also. This is only documented in human studies, but it is safe to assume similar risks exist for dogs.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Ayurvedic medicine considered safe for dogs?

In general, the practices of Ayurvedic medicine are considered safe for dogs. However, some preparations may contain mercury, lead, or arsenic with toxic qualities.


Is Ayurvedic medicine effective for dogs?

There is a large body of anecdotal evidence supporting Ayurvedic medicine in dogs. There have been some studies that suggest Ayurvedic practices may help with the reduction of pain and aid in the function of people with osteoarthritis, as well as managing symptoms of type two diabetes.

It should be noted, however, that these trials were either small or not very well designed and only concerned humans, not dogs. There is limited research on Ayurveda’s effect on health problems in general.

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Photo Credit: Bachkova Natalia, Shutterstock

Can Ayurveda be used alongside conventional medical practices?

Ayurveda can be used in conjunction with allopathic (modern) medicine. It should be noted that while Ayurveda can have huge positive effects on your dog when used alongside conventional medicine, it should never be used as a replacement for standard medical treatment, especially with serious diseases and injuries.

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Conclusion

Ayurveda is an ancient healing science. It is one of the oldest systems of medicine and it involves balancing and healing using natural remedies and strategies. It is believed to promote optimal health, while at the same time preventing diseases.

While there are many scholarly articles describing the practices of Ayurvedic medicine, there are limited numbers of clinical trials published, therefore it is difficult to draw conclusions on how effective the approach is.

Always consult your veterinarian initially if you have a problem with your dog and never use Ayurvedic medicine as a substitute for conventional medical practices.


Featured Image Credit: kazmulka, Shutterstock

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