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Nettle for Pets

Urtica dioica
Family: Urticaceae
Energy: Cool to neutral, dry

Nettle is rich with a wide variety of constituents: histamine, formic acid, chlorophyll, flavonoids (quercetin), carotenoids, serotonin, vitamin C, K, D and B complex and Carotenes A, calcium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, cobalt, thiamine.

Parts used:

Leaves, roots and seeds
The roots are a prostate tonic – use as a decoction, tincture.
The seeds are a kidney trophorestorative (In chronic states of irritation or depression, some degree of vital deficiency will manifest in an affected tissue, with a gradual loss of its functional capability. In any case when an organ or tissue is determined to be suffering from this state, trophorestorative herbs can be used safely as a long-term measure to restore normal function).

Therapeutics:

General Nutritional value

Nettle is high in nutritional value with a high protein content (30% of the dry mass). It is a general provider of minerals and vitamins as seen above. It is a safe herb to add to food or offer to the horse as extra fodder. By holding such high nutritional value, nettle helps build body defences and the immune system in general.

Arthritis, joint pain, Laminitis

Nettle has a mild hypoglycaemic action. This works due to its cleansing ability, getting rid of toxins including uric acid which causes inflammation of the joints and consequently pain. It can be used internally or in poultice in conjunction with other appropriate herbs.
It also works on the health of the gut.
Suitable for horses, dogs and cats.

Digestive Health

Nettle helps bringing many trace minerals and vitamins to animals who need them without overloading the digestive system. It is therefore an ideal food for those with a sensitive or inflamed digestive tract.
For the horse - An excessive amount of grass may cause sugar spikes. The bacteria in the guts feeding on this sugar, release histamine which causes inflammation of the guts, leading to digestive upset or laminitis. Nettle due to its anti-histamine content negates this effect and reinstates balance within the digestive tract.
For the dog – Due to its cleansing ability, its high content of chlorophyll and anti-oxidant, nettle is useful in case of chronic digestive disorder. It is safe to mix with food over a long period of time. Add 1/2 a teaspoon to a tablespoon depending on the size of the animal.
For the cat – Add a couple of pinches and mix with food.

Kidney

As a tonic cleanser, it is a mild-diuretic, flushing toxins out of the body, therefore acting as a tonic for the kidneys and adrenal glands. Useful in the treatment of oedema.

Skin condition and allergies

Due to their anty-histamine effect, nettles are useful to treat seasonal allergy – sweet itch in particular for horses.
As an anti-inflammatory, nettle is useful to relieve itching in skin conditions alongside appropriate herbs. Sweet itch, eczema. It promotes hair growth and reduces flaky skin, dandruff.
Add to food, make a tea and use as a rinse, use a glycerine tincture.
May be useful as a preventative measure - can be taken as a tincture or added to food prior to allergy season

Eye infections

Make a tea and use instead of eye bright

Bone

Useful in case of osteoporosis, fracture, building bones, looks after coat and teeth. Useful in case of laminitis

Anaemia

Nettle has a vast amount of iron, clorophyll and vitamin C which increase the red blood cells

Galactagogue

Promotes lactation

Energetics

Nettle deals with pent-up emotions. It helps to express anger and release it. In that sense it helps those individuals who are prone to be aggressive towards others.
Nettles helps regain self-respect, honour and nurture the self.

Methods of administration

The dried leaves can be given as food or added to food. This is the easiest way of using nettles. Nettle is a safe plant to use across spieces, clearly not in the same proportion whether your animal is a herbivore or carnivore.
Horses and so-called famr animals will forage on nettles if they are available in their paddock. They will only take the top tender leaves, give them a chance to grow again and go back to nibbling them. If you are providing fresh nettles, make sure to leave the branches to wilter for a while so the leaves and stalks lose their sting.and become safe for your animals to use.
in some rare cases, nettle will cause an allergic reaction through the appearance of small bumps on the surface of the skin. These will disappear within 24 to 48 hours of stopping feeding nettles.
The leaves can also be infused to make a tea or infused in an alcohol based solution to make a tincture.

SOURCES
Herbs for Pets by Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff, second edition
Equine herbal energetics by Stacey Small and Andrea Baldwin