Herbs not only add flavour and colour to our food, they also demonstrate impressive healing and restorative powers.
Indeed herb specialists argue that as a society we grossly underestimate the healing power of herbs - both for humans and our dogs.
What is a herb? The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines a herb as any plant in which the seeds, leaves, or flowers can be used to create flavour, scent or medicine.
A few can be found in supermarkets but there are thousands more that can be bought as plants or grown from seeds.
Help with digestion It is often only when heat is applied to herbs that their full aroma is released - aiding the release of saliva, which in turn prepares the stomach for food.
Enzymes in saliva trigger the process of digestion and help break down starch and fat.
Without this chain reaction, food isn't processed properly before it reaches the stomach, which can cause problems like irritable bowel, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and wind.
Herbs that ease digestion include rosemary, thyme, oregano and mint.
Beat the big C The flavonoids in many herbs - including sage, onions, rosemary, thyme, dandelion, chamomile, ginkgo, milk thistle and green tea - are similar to the nutrients available widely in vegetables and fruits and are understood to help prevent cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Leading academics in this field like Dr Winston Craig, who is Professor of Nutrition at Andrews University in the US, have found that these flavonoids allow vitamin C to mop up the free radicals that cause cancer, working more efficiently as an antioxidant.
Help preventing tumours Herbs, like caraway, dill, spearmint, coriander, rosemary, lavender, sage, lemongrass, thyme, chamomile, basil, mint, rosemary, celery seed, cardamom, fennel and peppermint, contain phytochemicals (terpenoids) that are potent antioxidants which are believed to inhibit tumour growth.
Natural antiseptic qualities Some herbs, including thyme, sage, and rosemary, are believed to offer antiseptic qualities.
Indeed prior to widespread refrigeration large households were known to store cold meats in cellars, wrapped in fresh sage leaves and covered in salt.
Fresh game was left to hang with fresh bunches of thyme, because of the herb's perceived antiseptic properties.
Using Herbs for Dogs You can use fresh or dried herbs by adding a small pinch for small dogs, and a teaspoon for large dogs.
Don't overdo it though as excessive use can cause problems.
Used in small quantities herbs will give your dogs a boost in their nutrition.
The flavonoids and antioxidants will help your dogs combat some of the diseases associated with aging, including canine cognitive dysfunction and cancer.
As noted, however, there are potential downsides and they should be used with care.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Oregano is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and is regarded as an antimicrobial that can be used to help with digestive problems, diarrhea, and gas.
For oregano drops made especially for pets, visit oregapet.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) This is high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.
Rosemary has also been shown to act as an antioxidant.
Peppermint (Mentha balsamea) This aromatic herb helps soothe upset stomachs, reduces gas and nausea, and helps with travel sickness.
Current research indicates it may have radio-protective effects and can be used to reduce radiation-induced sickness and mortality in animals undergoing chemotherapy.
Beware very high doses.
They may result in liver or kidney problems.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) This leafy herb has antiviral, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) This herb is a source of antioxidants, flavonoids, and vitamins and contains lycopene and carotenes.
It is a breath freshener and soothes the stomach.
NB: "Spring parsley", which is a member of the carrot family and resembles parsley, is toxic to dogs and cats due to its high levels of furanocoumerin that can cause photosensitisation and ocular toxicity.
All my health content is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own veterinarian or any other health care professional.
*If you have any concerns about your dog's general health, you should contact your vet.