Alfalfa…For Petie’s Sake
By Lynn Whittaker
Bow Wow U
Alfalfa is not just a member of Spanky’s Gang. This great plant is related to the pea family, bearing small tightly clumped blue, sometimes pink and white, flowers, with prickly seedpods and clover-shaped leaves. Not only a pretty plant, but alfalfa is also one of the richest mineral foods out there. Alfalfa contains a broad spectrum of nutrients, including being a great source of protein, digestive enzymes, amino acids, and chlorophyll, which serves as an antioxidant in the bloodstream. Alfalfa also contains all known vitamins like A, B1, B12, C, D, E, and K.
This perennial is commonly used for livestock feed, but alfalfa has many other uses that may have previously gone overlooked, until now. For starters, human studies have found that alfalfa contains phytoestrogens that help prevent osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease. Clinical studies have shown that treatments with Alfalfa helped improve conditions up to twenty percent in humans and have shown the same improvements and effects in dogs. In fact, it is one of the best herbal supplements used in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, and gout.
For pets with bladder issues, alfalfa can make urine alkaline and it is useful in bladder conditions where more alkaline urine (high ph) is needed, likewise it should not be used in pets whose medical conditions require acid urine ( low ph ). This might be why this little herb is one of the best things to feed elderly animals, as it addresses many of the geriatric health conditions animals, as well as humans, experience.
Due to alfalfa being a great resource for all these nutrients, vets have also recommended it for pets requiring an increase of nutrients that impact mental activity, especially those who suffer from cognitive disorders. It can also be given to assist dogs who need to gain weight because of the protein sources and nutrients it provides.
Alfalfa is also easy to grow in your garden. If allowed to spread, it may offer quite a bit of competition in your garden and may even take it over completely. It is not the kind of plant that you seed one year and decide you don’t want it the next. Digging up the roots is like pulling crabgrass and tilling often provides a greater proliferation from the subsequent root cuttings.
Its weed-like qualities may detract people from planting, but it is readily available at your local health food store and can be found in many supplements made specifically for pets. Alfalfa can be administered in capsule form, fresh, liquid, infused, extract, or sprinkled in powder on the dog’s food. This little herb is certainly worth investigating as a valuable source of nutrition for your pet.
Please note: Animals sensitive to pollen may be sensitive to fresh alfalfa, and it may be best to avoid it altogether. As with any supplement or herb, always consult with your veterinarian before giving it to your pet.