Animal Doctor

Healthy Dogs Seek Flower Power

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear Dr. Fox:

I have had two purebred Labrador retrievers, mother and daughter. Both loved hibiscus flowers. They could smell the bushes from the street and veer their way. The flower's color didn't seem to matter -- they liked them all. The flowers never seemed to harm their tummies, as they were never sick after eating them.


Bonita Springs, Fla.

There are different types of hibiscus. Flowers, seeds, leaves and roots are used around the world for various healing and culinary purposes.

Hibiscus (also called musk mallow or rose mallow) seeds can be made into an emulsion to soothe the skin or eaten to relieve stomach problems, soothe the nerves and sweeten the breath. Flowers give a tart, refreshing taste to beverages, jams and foods and may act as a mild laxative and diuretic. Mucilaginous polysaccharides in the flowers (also called Sudanese tea) may help alleviate various inflammatory conditions of the bowels and urinary tract. Leaves and tender stalks are also safe to eat.

Your dogs' desire to consume these flowers could mean they need to be put on a healthier diet and may benefit from probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes.

Dear Dr. Fox:

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