Dill for your dog

dill for dogs

When I was growing up, we regularly snipped dill from the summer garden as a perfect complement to boiled new potatoes, or thinly sliced cucumbers bathed in white vinegar, sugar and a little salt and pepper. This herb also looked lovely growing around the roses in my mother’s garden along with lots of fresh parsley.

A little later in life, I became much more ambitious with dill. Each fall we hustled off to the market to stock up on all the farm fresh ingredients needed to make absolutely fantastic dill pickles. I can still taste them in memory. These days, not a day goes by when I don’t eat some dill. It’s great for an upset stomach, and by adding vinegar to the mix you can say goodbye to stomach acid for a little while.

Dill: A brief background

Dill originated in southeast Asia and India, although a number of herbalists attribute its beginnings to the Norse dilla, which means “to lull.” According to Dioscurides, the ancient Greeks used dill to flavor wines, and both Greek and Roman soldiers placed burned dill seeds on their wounds to promote healing. War heroes were crowned with garlands of dill and it was woven into wreaths to hang in banquet halls. Dill was said to bring good luck and evoke good spirits.

In Medieval Europe, the herb was used in love potions, and a bag of dried dill carried over the heart was believed to guard against hexes. In ancient India, it was used as both a culinary and medicinal herb, and was so esteemed that it was used to pay taxes. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Healing and nutritious

Dill and dill seeds offer a lot of medicinal qualities:

• Contains volatile oil constituents that combine to cause an anti-foaming action in the stomach, much like the anti-gas remedies that line pharmacy shelves. This makes dill particularly soothing to the digestive tract.
• Also recognized as an antispasmodic, and helps reduce flatulence.
• Helps tonify the liver and pancreas, and is great for bad breath, especially when used in combination with parsley and peppermint.
• Helps dissolve uric acid accumulations in cases of kidney and bladder stones.
• Aids in treating chronic constipation.
• Ground seeds help dispel intestinal worms.
• Externally, dill juice can help heal skin irritations and inflammation, including heat rash.
• A rinse made with dill, feverfew flowers and yarrow is said to discourage fleas. Dill’s carvone, a naturally occurring chemical, is believed to enhance the effectiveness of other natural insecticides.

One teaspoon of dill seeds contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium (trace amount), zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin A, a variety of amino acids and dietary fiber. It also offers anethofuran and limonene, which increase the production of cancer fighting enzymes like glutathione S-transferase. The latter reacts with certain types of carcinogenic chemicals, eliminating them from the body. In fact, dill is a chemoprotective food, just like parsley, and has also been shown to have antibacterial qualities like garlic. Dill is not an allergenic food, and does not contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.

Growing and storing

Store fresh dill in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel, or simply place it in a small vase or mason jar with some water. Dill can also be frozen in ice cube trays – simply combine fresh dill with filtered water or your choice of broth.

Try growing your own dill. It’s easy to do. Make sure you harvest the entire seed head in late summer through early fall, with about 6” to 10” of stalk, when the seeds are almost ripe. Hang the stalks upside down over a paperlined tray or in a paper bag, away from direct sunlight. The seeds will fall off when they are ripe. Store the seeds in a mason jar in a cool dry place, away from light. They keep well for six months. Dried seeds are also available in health food stores. Crush seeds with a mortar and pestle and add them to your food, and your animal’s.

What makes dill so special for us also makes it special for our dogs and cats. It’s no wonder it has been chosen 2010 Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association. To honor its reign, the recipes included here offer something for your whole family, human and animal.

Simple Salmon with Dill Sauce

• 1 15-ounce can wild salmon
• 3 whole eggs
• 1 cup plain Balkan style yogurt
• 1 cup whole grain (e.g. oat, barley or brown rice flakes; whole dehydrated potato flakes can also be used)
• 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
• 1½ teaspoons dried dill, for garnish

Choose organic ingredients wherever possible. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine everything in a lightly greased loaf pan or Pyrex dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Garnish with dried dill and serve, or add a big dollop of one of the sauces below.

Dill Tea

In a teapot or a small pot, pour 1/2 cup boiling filtered water over 1 teaspoon of dry and lightly crushed dill seeds. A mortar and pestle work very well for crushing the seeds. Cover and steep for ten minutes. Strain the tea, discard the seeds, and let the tea cool before serving. You can add dill tea to your animal’s food or water bowl. When making treats for your companion, try replacing 1/4 cup of the liquid in the recipe with dill tea.

In their book Herbs for Pets, Mary L. Wulff- Tilford and Gregory L. Tilford recommend giving your dog 2 to 8 ounces of cooled dill seed tea. Dill seed can also be sprinkled on food, just before serving.

It’s A Dilly Sauce

• 1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, finely minced
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 cup plain Balkan style yogurt
• 2 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil Ingredients
• 1/2 cup plain Balkan style yogurt
• 1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and finely grated
• 1 teaspoon dried dill Instructions

Yogurt Dill + Cucumber Sauce 


• 1/2 cup plain Balkan style yogurt

• 1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and finely grated

• 1 teaspoon dried dill

For both sauces, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, or by hand. Add a big dollop to salmon before serving.

Herbs on the web

Frontier Natural Brands, frontiercoop.com
Mountain Rose Herbs, mountainroseherbs.com
Richters Herbs, richters.com

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Audi Donamor has been successfully creating special needs diets for companion animals for two decades. She founded the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She is the proud recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for her work in cancer, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College. The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund is also the recipient of the “Pets + Us” Community Outreach Champion Award.