Please note: “pets” in this article are in reference to dogs or cats. Please do your additional research to ensure these herbs are safe for your rabbit, hamster, or any other pet.
There are numerous Ayurvedic herbs that have the potential to help your pet in times of need. Like us, pets have their dosha profile (vata, pitta, and kapha) that can be either in or out of balance. Vata is governed by air and controls movement, the nervous system, and elimination. Pitta is governed by fire and controls digestion, detoxification, and metabolic energy. Kapha is governed by earth and water and controls the structure and immunity of the body.
To determine the constitution of your pet, take our free body type questionnaire. It works for all the members of your family. Be aware that while smaller dogs tend to be more vata, medium dogs more pitta, and larger dogs more kapha, your pet can become out of balance in vata, pitta, or kapha no matter what their primary body type is.
In This Article
Vata Pet Type
Generally, smaller dogs and pets tend to have a more vata constitution and are more prone to vata imbalances. When in balance, they are happy, playful, healthy dogs with a keen sense of awareness.
Stress can cause vata to go out of balance, causing a host of health concerns. They can become lonely, worried, anxious, and fearful causing them to become poor sleepers who are restless and overprotective. Vata causes internal dryness that can affect the gut lining, causing gas, bloat, and elimination issues. In time the internal dryness will affect their coat, causing it to lose luster and predispose the joints to dry out, ache, or be injured.
Pitta Pet Types
Pitta dogs are generally more medium-framed, muscular, competitive, playful, focused, and athletic. They have big appetites and can get dehydrated in the heat more easily. All dogs bred to herd or guard tend to have more pitta (fiery) constitutions and have the ability to be more aggressive, focused, or alert if needed. Pitta is the quality of heat; when it is out of balance, it can cause inflammation that can impact digestion, skin, coat, joints, and mood. Internal heat or inflammation can manifest as irritability and a short temper.
Kapha Pet Type
Kapha pets tend to be bigger, easygoing, calm, friendly, loyal, and naturally chill. They could spend all day lying by your side or on your lap. Kapha is earth and water, so their physical structure can be vulnerable as this is governed by the earth element and they have a lot of it. The water element governs immunity which depends on the quality of the mucus membranes (made of mostly water) that line the digestive and respiratory tracts.
When they get out of balance, they can become lethargic, tired, and lonely… These are “people pets” for sure! They can gain weight and become congested internally, affecting their immunity and mobility. Because of their larger frame and increased kapha, they are prone to more physical and structural issues as they age.
The Best Ayurvedic Herbs for Your Pet
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the best herbs to balance vata and kapha for any member of your extended pet family. It is one of the most effective adaptogens that help the body cope with stress. Stress can cause an imbalance in any pet. Adaptogens like ashwagandha protect the body and mind from the woes of stress. Ashwagandha has been shown to regulate cortisol (stress hormone), immunity, mood, endurance, energy, and vitality of your pet. It is protective for the dry joints of vata and the bigger and more vulnerable joints of kapha.
Dosage: Take ½ capsule (500 mg) of LifeSpa Ashwagandha mixed into your pet’s food. Less for a smaller pet. I do not recommend extracts as they are too potent for pets. They are also sterile which means they do not have the natural plant microbiome that supports the digestibility, potency, and benefit of the plant. Add 1/2 tsp for a medium-sized dog and less for cats and smaller pets mixed into their food.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a tri-doshic herb, which means it can be used for all pet types. It can be used for vata, pitta, or kapha pets; however, if taken in excess, it can be heating, so watch out not to give your high-pitta pet too much turmeric, particularly in the hot summer months. Turmeric is a vulnerable herb, which suggests it is useful for supporting the healthy function of the inner tissues of the body. It is classically used for inflammation, liver and gallbladder function, detoxification, and the maintenance of the inner lining of the intestinal and respiratory tracts. It is a natural immunomodulator, which means it helps regulate a healthy and balanced response to an immune-compromising event. It is an effective inhibitor of the 5-lipoxygenase inflammation pathways, meaning it is supportive of healthy joints and muscles.
Dosage: Use whole turmeric root without piperine or black pepper as black pepper is toxic to animals. Please note that LifeSpa’s Turmeric does have black pepper, and thus should not be given to pets. Take a dose of 1 ⁄ 2 tsp of turmeric for medium dogs and less for smaller pets mixed into their food.
Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) is also known as amla or Indian gooseberry. Like turmeric, it is also good for all pet body types, but amalaki has a stronger ability to balance pitta. By weight, it is one of the highest food sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C in amalaki is well-studied as an antioxidant, a precursor to collagen, an immunity supporter, a microcirculation supporter, and more. Vitamin C in amalaki has also been shown to protect the good fats in the body from going rancid. This is important for any pet’s healthy coat, as well as for maintaining a healthy phospholipid layer in the skin that protects pets from cold temperatures. On the inside, this supports gut and respiratory immunity while maintaining a healthy environment for beneficial bacteria to proliferate.
Dosage: Take ½ capsule of LifeSpa Amalaki (250 mg) capsule mixed in meals for a medium-sized dog. Less for small pets.
Boswellia serrata is a rare herb for both pets and humans. It is good for all pet types, vata, pitta, and kapha. It can be heating in excess or during the summer months. It is perhaps the most effective herb known to inhibit the 5-lipoxygenase inflammation pathway making it the most well-known Ayurvedic herb for joint health. While most herbs that support joint health (anti-inflammatories) are irritating to the intestinal lining, Boswellia has been shown in studies to support a healthy lining of the intestines and break up unwanted biofilm while supporting a healthy microbiome. In both animals and humans, stress impacts the lining of the intestines slowing disturbing digestion, assimilation, and immunity.
Dosage: Boswellia is best when combined with ginger and turmeric. Please note that LifeSpa’s Boswellia does have black pepper, and thus should not be given to pets. ½ tsp of boswellia with food for medium-sized dogs. Less for smaller pets.
Bacopa monnieri is also known as brahmi in South India, and should not be confused with Centella asiatica which is known as Brahmi in North India. Bacopa monnieri is an astringent, bitter, cooling herb that balances pitta and kapha, but can be too cooling for vata types. It is used as a brain tonic that can support mood, cognitive function, and focus for your pet. It has also been used in support of respiratory health and lung conditions.
Dosage: Please note that LifeSpa’s Bacopa Boost formula includes morning glory, and thus should not be given to pets. Add 125mg of just bacopa monnieri for medium-sized dogs and less for smaller pets mixed into their food.
Called the Queen of the Skin in Ayurveda, Neem (Azadirachta indica) is one of the best herbs for the skin on the outside (supporting a healthy coat) and on the inside (supporting healthy digestion and respiratory function). Neem strongly balances pitta, is good for kapha, and can be too cooling for vata, especially during the winter months. It has been shown to support a healthy intestinal environment while breaking up unwanted biofilm in the digestive tract that can disturb digestive function. Topically is also a natural pest repellent for fleas and ticks.
Dosage: LifeSpa’s Neem Boost combines neem with a small amount of amalaki. Add ½ capsule (250 mg) for a medium-sized dog and less for smaller pets mixed with their food.
Ginger is called the universal spice. It is beneficial for all types but due to its pungent nature, it can be a bit spicy and heating for some pets. Ginger is considered a bio-enhancer which means it supports healthy digestion and assimilation of food and nutrients taken with the ginger. It is exceptionally good for healthy joints and other forms of inflammation. It provides natural immune support for both gut immunity and respiratory immunity.
Dosage: Take a pinch (⅛ -¼ tsp) of ginger powder mixed in their food.
Triphala is a combination of three fruits: amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. The amalaki supports the health of the lining of the lungs and intestines and is a natural collagen precursor for the skin. Bibhitaki detoxifies the lining of the lungs and respiratory tract Haritaki boosts intestinal motility. It is a classic herb for intestinal health for all three types while acting as an immunomodulator and immune support.
Dosage: Take ½ capsule of LifeSpa Triphala (250 mg) for medium-sized dogs and less for smaller pets mixed into their food.