Ginger, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, has been used for centuries in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat various ailments. This humble root not only adds a delightful flavour to our meals but also possesses incredible healing properties for our dogs.
TCM views the body as an interconnected whole. It emphasises the balance and flow of the body’s vital energy, known as Qi. When Qi is disrupted or blocked, health issues may arise. TCM seeks to restore harmony by using various techniques, including herbal medicine.
In TCM, each herb is classified based on its energetic properties, flavours and the organs it affects. Ginger, known as “Sheng Jiang”, is considered a warming herb, holds a pungent (spicy) flavour and is associated with the Lung, Spleen and Stomach. Ginger’s warming nature helps dispel coldness, stimulate blood circulation and promote energy flow (Qi) throughout the body.
One of ginger’s primary uses in TCM is its ability to support digestion. It stimulates the production of digestive enzymes and promotes smooth muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract. This helps alleviate indigestion symptoms like bloating, flatulence, reflux, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and poor appetite.
Ginger’s antimicrobial properties can also help combat bacterial and viral infections that may cause digestive disturbances in dogs. By soothing the stomach and intestines, ginger promotes a healthy gut environment and can assist in relieving discomfort associated with gastrointestinal issues.
Just like us, dogs can experience bouts of nausea, whether it is caused by motion sickness, illness or even anxiety. The active compounds in ginger, such as gingerols and shogaols, have anti-inflammatory and antiemetic properties, which have been shown to be highly effective in alleviating nausea and vomiting.
Ginger’s ability to suppress the brain’s vomiting centre, known as the chemoreceptor trigger zone, makes it an excellent natural remedy for dogs experiencing motion sickness during car rides or boat trips. Additionally, ginger can be beneficial for dogs undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from surgery, as it helps mitigate the nausea often associated with these treatments.
Alleviate Respiratory Issues and Body Aches and Pain
The other uses of ginger in TCM are to help with respiratory issues and body aches and pain, particularly those caused by coldness (or stagnant Qi). Ginger has expectorant properties that help expel phlegm, alleviate cough and clear congestion. Ginger’s warming properties is believed to help open up the airways and improve lung function, making it beneficial for conditions like colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma. It can also promote blood circulation and energy flow (Qi), helping relieve muscle stiffness, joint pain and arthritis symptoms associated with blocked Qi.
How to Feed Ginger to Your Dog
Fresh organic ginger root
Peel the skin off and finely mince the yellow part of the root. Feed no more than 1/4 teaspoon to small dogs, 1/2 teaspoon to medium dogs and 3/4 teaspoon to large dogs. You can also substitute fresh ginger root with ground ginger. Just be mindful that ground ginger is much more concentrated than fresh ginger so you need to at least halve the above dosage when feeding ground ginger. Mix ginger with your dog’s food. Always start slow and work your way up to the full dose.
Try our Ginger Dog Cookies Recipe (also human friendly!)
You can buy organic ginger tea or make your own from fresh ginger root or ground ginger. Steep a tea bag or 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root in a cup of boiling water for 5–10 minutes. Strain and allow it to cool before giving it to your dog. You can also add a little bit of honey or sprinkle a little bit of ground ceylon cinnamon to make it more palatable for your dog. Feed less than 1/4 cup to small dogs, 1/4–1/2 cup to medium dogs and 1/2–1 cup to large dogs. If your dog gets car sick, give ginger tea about 30 minutes before getting in the car. Always start slow and work your way up to the full dose.
Ginger can thin the blood, so do not feed ginger if your dog is on a blood thinning medication or will be undergoing surgery or going into labor. Ginger may also lower blood sugar and blood pressure. Talk to your vet if your dog has diabetes or any kind of heart condition. Consult with your holistic vet if you are unsure with the dosage or if your dog is pregnant or have any medical issues.