I don’t know about you, but I love a good cup of coffee in the afternoon. Coffee in the morning is nice, but that short break around 1 to 2 o’clock is my essential coffee. As I’m sure we both know, dogs can’t have coffee. A lick or two of it won’t hurt them, but unlike us even a small amount isn’t good for them. They process caffeine differently than we do, so it both hits them harder and stays in their system longer (actually, some people metabolize coffee slowly too).
If you’ve ever wanted to share in your coffee addiction with your dog though, fear not because I have the answer: Roasted dandelion root. People who do not want to drink coffee sometime use it as a substitute. It looks like coffee, and it actually tastes a bit like coffee. A disappointing cup of coffee, but your dog won’t know the difference.
Even if you’ve never wanted to share a cup with your pup, there are other reasons to consider dandelion root. It can help soothe digestive upset as well as improve digestion. The diuretic properties of it may help prevent urinary tract infections. It may even have cancer preventing properties. A 2011 study showed it caused death in melanoma cells, and another showed promise with pancreatic cancer. While dandelion shouldn’t be used as a sole treatment for cancer, it may be a good preventative for healthy dogs.
The most common use for dandelion root is as a liver cleanse. I often hear opposition about liver cleanses as pointless, stating the liver already removes toxins from the body. While it’s true that this is the liver’s function, the high use of pesticides (and other things) in our environment is taxing on the liver and we see the effects of it much faster in animals with shorter lifespans than us. Look at it this way, we are advised not to eat the livers from animals living around potentially polluted environments because the highest concentration will be in the liver. Dandelion root is a mild diuretic, which helps flush both the liver and kidneys to give them a boost.
The way I see it, there is no harm in giving your dog dandelion root. If the health claims are true, that’s fantastic! If they aren’t, the worst case scenario is that your dog gets a healthy treat. I’m willing to take a gamble on those odds.
Like most things that could be considered herbal remedies, it’s best not to give it to your dog every day for their lifetime. I would recommend no more than a few times a week, with one serving being 1/8-1/4 cup per 10-20 pounds of body weight, up to 1 cup. Basically think of your coffee serving, then scale it down to your dog’s size. If you have a large dog you can just leave the teabags whole and brew it that way. For Suki, however, I open up the bags and keep the root grounds in a small mason jar next to my coffee grounds. When I want to make her a cup I measure an 1/8 to 1/4 tsp (AKA a generous pinch) into a tea strainer and pour boiling water over it.
Just like people, some dogs are happy to drink their “coffee” black while others prefer a bit of cream or coconut milk to make it more palatable. If you already give your dog coconut oil you could also serve up some bulletproof “coffee” by blending the coconut oil with the roasted dandelion root drink (just skip the butter).