MR Ralphie

  Besides Arthritis,  Senior dogs can have cognitive decline, immune system deficiency, loss of muscle mass, and digestive issues. Some senior dogs can be overweight, which may look like muscle mass, but this can be too much fat over shrinking muscles – called sarcopenia (age-related wasting of muscles).  Sarcopenia means the Dog is at risk of bone and tendon injury and progression of arthritis. They get tired and stiff!

Immune deficiency means that they are more at risk of getting cancers which is common in seniors, both humans and dogs.

There is much information on the internet about the use of Resrevatrol, Curcumin,  Green tea extracts,  Grape seed extracts, Ginko, etc., as supplements for slowing down the aging process in humans.  These can be used in dogs with some success,  and  I will cover these agents in another article.

I mention them here as some combinations may be suitable for your Dog, and there are some specific VET formulations available from your Holistic Vet or internet sources – see contacts and resources below.

In writing this article, I quite like the substances previously mentioned, especially combined in formulas for their anti-aging effects. Still, in this article, I have chosen three herbs to think about which will increase the quality of life in the aging Dog relatively low cost and availability.

 These herbs are also available in capsules which can be broken open and used as powder on meals -therefore suitable for small dogs. Larger dogs may take the capsules individually, but I have found sprinkled on food is a better place to start.

ASHWAGANDHA ( Withania somnifera ):  is a great all-rounder as it has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, adrenal tonic properties. This revered herb has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and is widely available in Australia.

Here are some of its properties-

  •  It can help reduce blood sugar levels.
  • It has anti-cancer properties.
  • Can reduce cortisol levels and prevent adrenal fatigue
  • Help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Can reduce symptoms of depression.
  • Can Help to boost testosterone levels
  • May increase muscle mass and strength.
  • Helps to reduce inflammation
  • Helps to improve brain function

Thus, a good overall tonic for your Dog.

 It is available in capsule form at Nature’s Sunshine Sydney

GOTU KOLA:  another Ayurvedic herb is used for improving cognitive function. Here are some of its properties may help boost cognitive function. …

  • May help treat Alzheimer’s disease.
  •  may help reduce anxiety and stress.
  •  may act as an antidepressant.
  • may improve circulation and reduce swelling.
  • may help ease insomnia.

This Herb is available from Natures Sunshine.

REISHI MUSHROOM:  used as a quintessential tonic herb in China and probably the most revered next to Ginseng. It has the following properties

  • Immune system support and modulation
  •  Has Anti-inflammatory properties 
  •  Contains Antioxidant compounds
  •  Helps to Protect the liver
  •  Helps to Support kidney health
  •  Helps to Relieve allergies
  • Helps to control blood sugar
  •  Helps to Regulate blood pressure
  • Helps to calm the mind
  • Helps with Insomnia.

A good source for its  availability  in Australia would be

I suggest look at combining all three of the above and adding small doses to dog food every day or twice a day for enhanced results.

If this is too complicated for you then look at some Pet manufacturers listed below who do offer herb combined powders. The reason I have mentioned Super feast and Nature’s Sunshine in this blog is that they supply whole dried herbs that have not been concentrated and no extra additives –  Ideal for good nutrition and absorption.


In human supplements, the dosage is listed on the bottle as required by law,  via the TGA ( Therapeutic Goods Act ) in Australia. The dosage listed is usually a nominated low dose by the manufacturer and ensures a degree of safety, perceived value for money, and providing the minimal amount for the product to work.  The actual dose, however, which may be required to create a therapeutic effect and bring about a resolution of a Health problem maybe – double or triple the dose as listed !!! This is one reason we’re taking in adequate amounts will not do the job.

Let’s assume your Dog weighs 10 kg.  Let’s assume the average adult weighs is 75Kg. Therefore, the Dog requires approx. 12 % or less of the dose required for adults.

If Ashwagandha is prescribed and the human dose on the bottle is nine capsules per day ( 400mg ) Capsules then @ 12% is about one capsule per day for the Dog. Since the herbs prescribed are not drugs and are not toxic even with large amounts, then one capsule for the 10kg dog per day is a low dose, remembering the adult dose on the bottle is very low to start with. I am using the calculations using the whole herb or powder, not concentrates. If using powder formulas or concentrated herbal formulas, then seek advice from a holistic VET before using as the dosages will be different.

This then would be a good commencing dose on a  health maintenance program using the whole herb and nothing but the herb powder.

To prevent stomach upset or loose stool, the capsule would be prescribed 1  cap per day with food /or half a cap x twice a day with food is better.

The capsule is opened and the powder is put on the food. Please do not use the gelatin capsules. If you are using an Ashwagandha bulk powder then it is easier to calculate the dose per kilo of body weight or percentage. Always start with the lower dose.

Sounds confusing? if so,  then contact your holistic vet for advice or use proprietary Vet supplements that contain the herbs already, so the dosage has been worked out for you.

Naturally, when starting I would recommend one herb at a time. For example, let’s say you wish to use all three herbs Ashwagandha + reishi + Gotu kola as a combination to treat your Pet who has poor energy levels and cognitive decline.

Just introduce each herb one at a time a week apart at the lowest dose, and monitor your Dog. If stools are loose then reducing the dose even lower or give half dose x twice a day. If stools are ok, stick with the lower amount for a month or two and see how things go. Remember, these herbs are being used here as supportive tonics for your Dog and acting preventatively.  If treating for a specific diagnosed condition that is serious, then seek advice from your holistic Vet.

TIP 1: If you are going to purchase products online, I would highly recommend you stick with Australian retailers/suppliers and manufacturers as they are regulated by the Australian Therapeutic goods commission. Generally, the quality you buy here may be a lot different than buying from unknown sources from overseas via the internet. Buyer beware!

TIP 2: Many Vets in Australia now prescribe Chinese Herbal Formulas. These are great and possibly work more effectively for treating a variety of conditions!  For the Chinese formulas to work, they must be matched precisely to the Dogs’ exhibiting patterns of disease or disorder, so in this case, a consult is required. You can do this over the phone or video.

You may wish to check these people out – the Natural Vets


Pure Animal podcasts have a lot of information from Holistic Vets. Many of them do Video consultations for advice. Here is the link

In Adelaide, is a holistic vet service that dispenses Chinese herbal formulas

 In Australia – Australian Holistic Vets website – for a list of Holistic Vets


Here is but one example on Amazon

There are lots there so pre-read if possible and choose the best you can. I would listen to the podcasts first and read some articles before purchasing books.


Blackmores Paws division has some excellent pet products and a free advisory service on their products, so worth a look. There may be some human Blackmores formulas that can be used with larger dogs that can take tablets or whole capsules. Some tablets can be cut in two using a pill splitter available from most pharmacies. I used that a lot with my Golden  Retrievers.

Here is an example of a pet manufacturer who has pre-packaged products that may be suitable for your Pet in powder form



Dr Karen Becker is a USA VET who specialises in Animal nutrition. She has spent her career as a small animal clinician and writes extensively on lifestyle medicine for small animals. She has a new book called “The Forever Dog “: surprising new science to help your canine companion live younger. You can listen to her on The Ultimate Health Podcast by Jesse Chappus. Here are some links below

Link for Ultimate Health podcast:

Here is the U tube link

Here is her book website

Disclaimer: I am a Naturopath that has an interest in dog nutrition and former owner of two golden retrievers. I am not a Vet so if you are unsure of anything in this article that is used for information purposes then please contact the Vets listed under contacts and resources or contact me on my website 

Peter Farnsworth N.D.

revised 16/10/21