Herbal First Aid For Pets (and People)
Herbs You Can Use To Treat Minor Injuries
This past week my dog Yoko had the brilliant idea to run through some barbed wire (see above cute face that’s impossible to be mad at). She came back to the trail with a 1/2 inch cut on her ear, streaming blood. Given that her whole ear is only about three inches wide, the cut was big enough to be a real concern, and we spent the rest of the day packaging her up, checking it for signs of infection and deliberating whether or not to go to the vet for a stitch.
Between my partner’s first aid experience as a Wilderness First Responder, and my budding herbal knowledge, we settled on a hybrid solution: A daily regimen of flushing the wound with a homemade tea of thyme and yarrow, letting it air dry, applying antibiotic ointment (letting it dry again), and packaging it with yarrow, a clean bandage and some athletic tape.
Five days later, her ear looks almost completely normal. The street-dog knick I assumed she’d have for the rest of her life is all but invisible and the yarrow (Achillea millefolium)—pictured above, which takes its name partially from the warrior Achilles and was historically used on the battlefield to package wounds, worked its magic to seal things up incredibly well.
As a vulnerary (skin-healing), styptic (stops bleeding), analgesic (relives pain), and antiseptic herb, it’s ideal for this type of injury. The thyme, which is highly antimicrobial, made for great partner in crime.
All of this to say—herbs do have their place in your first aid kit. And they can be especially helpful if you find yourself in the backcountry or out on a trail without antibiotics and all of those other modern accoutrements on hand.
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