Fennel is one of the aromatic herbs that belong to the family Apiaceae that has yellow flowers and feathery leaves whose leaves, stem and shoots are used in flavoring food. Some cultivar such as the finocchio or Florence fennel has a stem that is bulb-like that is used as a vegetable.
Botanically known as Foeniculum vulgare, this perennial plant is native to the Mediterranean Sea but naturalized in many places except in Australia and some parts of the United States where it is considered as an invasive plant.
To humans, it has a long list of benefits such as promoting bone and heart health, aiding in digestion, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, fighting cancer, free radicals and so on.
Can dogs have fennel?
Yes. Dogs can have fennel as it is non-toxic “if consumed in small quantities in food. Avoid concentrated oil,” notes ASPCA.
You can use its chopped leaves and add them to a homemade treat or add them to wet dog food. Keep the amounts to about a teaspoon and not more than that. Also, stalks (stem) including bulb-like stems, and seeds are safe.
It is a good source of vitamin A and C which are antioxidants that will help in fighting against free radicals. These antioxidants may also help in fighting cancer and ensuring a healthy cardiovascular system. It also has other vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Besides promoting digestion, it can also help in reducing flatulence, bloating, constipation and intestinal spasms that are often painful.
Furthermore, it will help deal with bad breath since it has antimicrobial properties and well as calm down inflammation owing to its anti-inflammatory properties
Ground fennel seeds can be used to make a dog-safe herbal tea. One teaspoon of these seeds can be added to eight ounces of boiling water and mixed well.
Once it has cooled, give about two teaspoons of this herbal tea to a 20-pound dog.
While it is safe since it is caffeine-free, do not forget that caffeinated drinks including tea and coffee are not safe for these pets.
Finally, you can also go for the NaturVet Gas Aid – Plus Fennel. This is soft chews with fennel seeds, ginger, parsley leaf, and other active ingredients and it helps “alleviate Intestinal gas and helps reduce stool and urine odors.”
Avoid fennel oil
Extracted from this herb’s oil, this essential oil is not safe for dogs, cats, and other small animals. It is associated with photosensitive dermatitis.
Since dogs cannot effectively digest fennel leaves and stem, avoid giving them excessive amount since it can wreak gastrointestinal havoc with symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach upsets, and vomiting.
Also, do not use it if your dog is allergic to this herb, is lactating or pregnant and always go for organic sources of this herb if possible. Furthermore, before giving it to your dog, wash it to remove dirt, pesticides, herbicides and insecticide residue.
Finally, with an aroma that closely resembles licorice or anise, it is normal for some pooch to refuse eating it including cooked one or its seeds while some will find it delicious.
Foeniculum vulgare has carminative, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties all helpful to your pooch including in ensuring a fresh breath.
Always give them a small amount and do not try the various home remedies you may get online teaching you how to use it for various conditions unless you first talk to your vet.