Our ongoing series on herbs for dogs continues with this look at uva ursi.
The full name of this plant is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, but we’re going to go with the shortened form for obvious reasons. This plant is circumpolar and is largely found in northern latitudes and higher altitudes the further south you get. You can typically find uva ursi in forest clearings, where it is located throughout the northern third of the United States, Canada and Europe.
Uva ursi blooms from April through June and its fruits develop in the middle of summer. The fruit is a red berry that looks like a tiny apple, but its leaves and twigs are really what’s relevant here.
Uva ursi is notable because of the large amount of tannins it contains (up to 40 percent). Because of this property, it is one of nature’s finest astringents. It also aids in treating urinary tract infections because of its high quantity of hydroquinones, which work as chemical compounds against a variety of pathogens.
Uva ursi’s leaves and twigs are used to create decoctions and tinctures. It can be found at most herb retailers, while nurseries that have native plants should also carry it for planting if that’s up your alley.
- As mentioned, uva ursi is an effective treatment for urinary tract infections. Using it requires an alkaline reaction, which means that it should be paired with other antibacterial herbs to do the job. In lieu of combining it with other herbs, urine should be elevated to a healthier pH state before using uva ursi as a treatment option for infections
- In any case, uva ursi can still be used to help stop bleeding due to its astringent properties. It can also reduce inflammation in the urinary tract, but it is a strong herb and can do damage to the kidney if used in large doses.
- To use to fight urinary tract infections, make a decoction from fresh or dried leaves and/or stems. Use one cup of dried herb for every three cups of water. The leaves are impervious to water, so you won’t be able to make a tea out of it. For dogs, the dosage should be one teaspoon of decoction daily for a maximum of three days. That will prevent any kidney problems from arising.
According to some sources, uva ursi can “inhibit oxygen delivery to the uterus.” Because of this caution, it should not be used by nursing animals. And again, long-term use should be avoided (like with many astringent herbs) because of potential irritation of the kidneys, bladder and urethra.
Reasons to Use
Uva usri is a solid treatment for urinary tract infections, as we’ve mentioned, and it’s generally safe to use within the dosage recommendations listed above. Avoidance of long-term use is a must, but over the short-term this is a quality herb for dogs.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen