Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot
When we think of our pets’ diet, we generally don’t think of hot and spicy things like Cayenne pepper. What on earth can Cayenne pepper do for our pets? Well, for starters let’s define what we are talking about. Cayenne and the related compound Capsicum are associated with really hot, little chili peppers. There are dozens of varieties out there, but for the most part, they all look very similar.
They are shiny and oval or long and narrow in shape with long leaves. These plants also bear star-shaped flowers. Most of the plants can grow from 12 inches to 3 feet tall. Originally a native of South and Central America, pepper plants are grown all over the place today and even make attractive houseplants that bear edible fruit.
This fruit, the hot pepper, can serve many purposes for our animals. It can be used as a deterrent for dogs and puppies. It helps discourage chewing and teething when applied in liquid form to the item that the dog is tempted to chew, but shouldn’t. The item you apply it to should be tested first, as the liquid might stain furniture and/or fabric. Cayenne can also be used as a deterrent in the garden. If you dip your bulbs in cayenne pepper before planting it will help keep the squirrels from stealing your prized bulbs. Just sprinkle this on your lawn is rumored to keep cats and dogs off the grass.
The most interesting qualities this plant can offer are those that are healthful. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which is the chemical that gives “heat” to the fruit. It is considered a vasodilator; causing narrowed blood vessels to expand. It also acts to warm the body internally, increasing circulation to the skin and muscles. This explains why we break into sweat or feel flushed when we eat hot foods.
Cayenne is frequently used as a carrier compound along with other supplements to better assist them in being distributed throughout the body. Cayenne also contains carotenes, the substance that is responsible for the deep pigment colorations in red and orange fruits and vegetables. The carotenes have antioxidant properties, which help tissues stave off injury.
Cayenne may be regarded as a circulatory stimulant for the lungs and may be useful in promoting better pulmonary efficiency in animals with pneumonia. With these substances the correct dosage is important. Finding the correct dosage depends on what you are treating for, and should normally be administered in capsule form.
Cayenne is also useful topically when used in a poultice (mashed and moistened) to relieve muscular pains or pains associated with arthritis. When applied in this fashion, it gives almost an instant warming effect, and may stimulate the body’s own anti-inflammatory systems! You can even try this on yourself!
Interestingly enough, Cayenne not only helps circulate the blood but can also help it to clot as well. It may sound painful to apply this in a powdered form directly from your kitchen cabinet to an open wound, but in reality, it is not very discomforting at all.
This is an herb worth considering for the aforementioned reasons, but as always, with any herb or supplement, you should contact a veterinary professional before administering hot peppers as a therapy. Capsicum is an irritant to mucous membranes and should always be kept from the eyes and the nose. Always be sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling Cayenne to prevent irritation.
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