Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is a wonderful herb that we can use to help our dogs. It’s also one that should be included in your dog’s first aid kit.
Externally, it works great to soothe the skin and heal wounds. In addition to its soothing properties, it is an anti-fungal and antibacterial. It’s great for insect bites, minor cuts, scrapes, and stings. It brings down swelling and reduces pain.
Internally it is an anti-inflammatory, a liver stimulant and it increases lymph flow. It is also said that because it contains saponin constituents, it could have antitumor properties. Calendula is great at soothing the digestive and urinary tract. It is also effective for colitis.
To use calendula externally, you can make an herbal poultice, fomentation, salve, ointment or infused oil. You could even just make a flower infusion then cool the water and pour it over the affected area as a skin tonic.
Internally you can make a tea, tincture or sprinkle a little of the flower on your dog’s food. Herbs work best in low doses. I like to use herbs very conservatively. Talk to your holistic vet to see what he or she recommends. Personally, I give 2 drops of ACV tincture for every 10 pounds of body weight.
If you don’t want to wait six weeks for your tincture to be ready, or feel more comfortable buying a tincture that was crafted by a master herbalist, Rita Hogan, who consults for Dogs Naturally, has a wonderful one you can buy here.
If you are making a first aid salve, calendula combines well with Saint John’s wort, comfrey and bee balm. If you are using it internally for inflammation of the digestive or urinary tract, you might want to consider adding a little corn silk, marshmallow or plantain.
Calendula is considered a very safe herb, but it is contraindicated in pregnancy. It also contains a trace amount of salicylic acid, which is potentially toxic to cats.
When picking calendula from your own garden to make a tincture, make sure that what you are picking is pot marigold (Calendula Officinalis) and not the French or Mexican variety (Tagetes), which may cause mild stomach irritation. These two flowers, both referred to as marigold, are actually very different plants.