Who would have thought that rooibos, generally touted as beneficial for the whole family, includes the furry ones in the family too! Yes, rooibos is as good for your pet as it is for you.
This uniquely South African herbal tea, often called red bush tea, is increasingly being used in dog treats, pet food supplements, paw rinses, shampoos, and in “anti-itch” oils for dogs. Holistic veterinarians are even recommending using it as a safe option to the usual allopathic cortisone.
Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council explains why SA’s indigenous wonder-plant, Rooibos, should be part of your regular pet care regime. Apart from being wonderfully nutritious, it serves as a natural prevention and remedy for many ailments that plague pets. Research shows that Rooibos tea can soothe skin irritations and help improve dermatological conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and dermatitis, because of its high level of flavonoids, which encourage the body to destroy unwanted pathogens.
“Another advantage is that rooibos is hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, which means it can be used on the most sensitive of skin types and can treat and alleviate inflamed skin and bacterial infections too.
“It’s also packed with important minerals and vitamins that promote healthy skin, such as zinc and vitamin D; is caffeine-free and contains no harmful chemicals or preservatives,” remarks du Toit.
Paul Jacobson, a well-known pet food nutritionist and owner of a popular range of healthy pet food and natural remedies – can vouch for Rooibos’ healing potential and pets even benefitting from Rooibos’ health-giving properties by simply pouring it over their food.
Another advocate for holistic treatments, Beryl Shuttleworth, a qualified biochemist, zoologist and founder of an innovative range of herbal supplements for horses and pets, says the variety of vitamins, antioxidants and bioflavonoids make rooibos an unparalleled everyday supplement that slows down the ageing process and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and potentially, even cancer.
Research has also shown that Rooibos tea is good for digestive issues in dogs because it is antispasmodic and helps to promote optimal immune system health due to its high antioxidant content. Dietary antioxidants have been shown to protect neurons against a variety of experimental neurodegenerative conditions. Several natural beverages, in particular herbal teas, such as Rooibos, have potential against a variety of oxidative stress-induced neurodegenerative diseases.
All you really need to know is how to brew a cup (or more) of rooibos tea. The liquid tea can then be applied topically as a soothing rinse or soak to help ease skin discomfort – itching, scratching, hot spots, a soak for irritated paws and even as an eye drop for irritated eyes.
For pets suffering from allergies, irritated paws and other common ailments, here are a few tried and tested rooibos remedies recommended by experts and pet-lovers from around the country:
Place two rooibos tea bags in a teapot of hot water and steep for about 15 minutes. Once cooled, use the tea as a soothing rinse to treat your pet’s itchy, red and sensitive eyes or soak a cotton ball in rooibos and wipe eyes.
For allergies or yeast infections of the paw, soak your pet’s paws for at least 30 seconds in a bowl, basin or bath of rooibos tea. This will reduce discomfort and help to treat symptoms. Gently pat paws dry and avoid rubbing them as this can cause irritation.
Eczema, itchy and inflamed skin:
Mosquito and flea bites can cause itching and in severe cases, allergies, hair loss and open wounds from your pet’s continual scratching. Either bath or rinse affected skin areas in brewed rooibos tea or apply cooled rooibos on the affected area with cotton wool or a facecloth or place it in a spray bottle and spray the affected area frequently. Also ask your local vet or pet shop about the various anti-itch rooibos skincare ranges that are available.
Dog-lovers have also reported the appetite-enhancing effect that rooibos has had on their dogs. Pour cooled red or green rooibos tea into your pet’s water bowl daily to ensure they get a good dose of its goodness on the inside too.
Independent research by Cosmetochem International Ltd in France confirmed that using rooibos on hair can improve not only general hair growth, but also the overall condition of hair. Many pet-lovers have shared their stories about how their pets’ coats/hair shine after regular use of rooibos. Look out for rooibos enriched shampoos or lotions.