Herbs are natural and a good source of vitamins to keep your horses and dogs healthy. During winter, they can help supporting their immune system. However, herbs alone will not prevent your dog or horse to catch a cold. Their housing and feeding regime are as important.
Tip #1 – Herbs
Garlic is well suited to boost the immune system and to help fight microbes during winter. Dry garlic can easily be added to your animal’s diet. Although garlic has many benefits, too much is not good for horses or dogs. So don’t over dose and don’t give it more than 3 weeks in a row.
Horses: ½ teaspoon to 2 tablespoons/day, depending on the size of your horse Dogs: ¼ teaspoons daily
Echinacea is well known to help with cold and flu but should be given as a preventative measure and not when the animal is already sick.
Horses: 1 cup/day Dogs: 1 tbls/day
Other herbs that help with colds are Rosemary, Oregano (better made as a tea) and olive leaf extract.
These herbs should be started before winter so the animal’s immune system is well boosted before the cold
Tip #2 – Housing
Needless to say that it is important to provide your animal friends with a warm environment during winter. It is especially important for older animals and those with arthritis. Rugging your horse or dog can be useful. If the animal has pain from arthritis, they might not accept a rug easily. Try to buy light but warm rugs. Fleece rugs provide plenty of warmth without the heaviness. Pay attention to beddings too. Dogs should be out of concrete floors at all time.
Shelters for horses need to have wind barriers. If the stables have concrete floors, you should cover them with straw or other suitable material.
Tip #3 – Food
During winter, animals may need extra food as it is fuel to keep them warm. Horses may need more hay and will also enjoy a warm bran, only if your horse already eats bran. Giving a new feed to a horse must be introduced over 2 to 3 weeks otherwise you are running the risk to trigger a bout of colic in your horse. Dogs may require extra bones. Keep an eye on your animal’s weight and increase or decrease their feed intake accordingly.