Herbs the latest fad for pampered canines

by Satoshi Toi

Kyodo

What’s good for humans sometimes proves the same for their canine friends, and dog lovers have started experimenting with herbal treatments to improve their pets’ well-being.

“Your beloved dogs should feel relaxed when you wrap them in a towel soaked in herbal water,” an instructor from the Japan Dog Holistic Care Association said during a recent promotional event at a Tokyo dog cafe.

The Tokyo-based organization said that the practice is designed to improve dogs’ quality of life by using 12 herbs, such as marigold, horsetail, St. John’s wort and rosemary, and enhancing communication between owners and their pets.

The herbs help stimulate digestion, keep fur in good shape, ease tension and promote blood circulation, the association claims.

Available in powdered form, the herbs can be mixed into the dog’s food or made into a tea. They can also be used to prevent bacterial growth and help keep pet rooms and dog toilets clean.

Kazuyuki Miyamoto, 41, a breeder from Kawasaki, took part in the cafe event.

“I came here because I thought I could find ways to take care of my elderly dog on top of the medical treatment we can get at a veterinary hospital,” said Miyamoto, who brought his 15-year-old female Shetland sheepdog.

The association warns there are certain kinds of herbs that are not safe for dogs with certain ailments, just as with humans.

“I want owners to carefully consider what effects the herb has and if their dog likes it,” Kazuyo Ono, deputy director of the association, said.

“When using herbs, it is important to consider the whole environment for the dog, including its lifestyle or how its owner treats it, not just the dog’s physical health,” Ono said.

Hoping to capitalize on interest in this field, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. released room deodorants for dog owners in August.

The Osaka-based company created three kinds of fragrances based on such herbs as chamomile and rosemary that can get rid of canine odor and, it says, help the dog feel relaxed at the same time.

Because dogs don’t necessarily like the aromas of oils that make people feel relaxed, the company consulted experts to select three fragrances from a starting range of 85.

“As dogs and people have different preferences for fragrances, we made particular efforts to find fragrances that both can accept,” said Yukari Nishiura, an official from Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s fragrance and deodorant group.

In developing the product, which has been named Inunokimochi (A Dog’s Feelings), “We took into consideration the perspective of a pet as though it is a member of the family, as is the case for most owners,” Nishiura said.

In recent years, scores of fragrance products including deodorants, toilet sheets and shampoos have appeared on the market, but an industry observer said a product that responds to a pet’s preference is very unusual.