Frequently the question ‘My Labrador is greedy, won’t he just eat everything?’ gets asked, so let’s see why this isn’t the case with herbal self-medication…
(Sorry for picking on the Labs, but they do have a bit of a reputation, however this could equally apply to any food-loving animal!)
Food provides energy and helps your dog grow and live, containing carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes etc. These are consider to be ‘primary metabolites’. They play a direct role in cellular processes, having high nutritional value and being pleasant to eat. The are selected when a dog is hungry and are generally eaten until the animal is full.
Secondary metabolites are (such as dried herbs, powders or macerates) are active medicinally and are often more bitter to taste. They are often high in vitamins and minerals and are considered by the body to be a supplement to support bodily function and help with growth, energy and repair. They are only selected where there is an immediate deficiency or need and are oftten lacking in the lives of domestic animals.
Some animals need more than others and they make take a lot initially if they have had insufficient access to them in the past, but because they provide no metabolic purpose they will stop… eventually!
The ‘Sensory Modulation Theory’ states that an animals smell and taste receptors respond to the current physiology of the dog. If an animal needs the secondary metabolite present in the remedy, then it will taste palatable because their body needs it. Once they reach their ‘dose’ and no longer need it, the taste changes to being unpalatable and so they stop wanting it.
Sometimes a ‘greedy’ dog is experiencing stomach discomfort and so offering products to support this area can help them return to normal appetite patterns, and occasionally they will take large volumes of a product to facilitate a purge (see my previous post entitled ‘Purging – nasty but necessary‘.
You’ll be amazed at just how selective even the greediest chocolate Labrador is when it comes to herbal self-medication.