The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is marigolds. We recently wrote about garden safety and noted that marigolds are a natural insect repellent, but are they okay for your pets to eat and are they found in pet food?
What is a Marigold?
There are two types of plants you may recognize as marigolds. Tagetes, or French Marigolds that are actual native to America and Calendula, or Pot Marigolds brought over to the United States from Europe. Both are in the Daisy family, but Tagetes are not edible to humans or pets. Calendula is converted to an extract and is found in about 200 pet foods.
Why would Marigolds be in pet food?
Calendula extract, or Marigold extract is a commonly used herbal medication. It is frequently used as a topical antiseptic, but can also be added to pet food due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can aid in digestion and reduce inflammation and combat viruses and bacteria. The flavonoids in the extract can add flavor and is also a source of plant antioxidants (which give them their bright color).
Marigold contains large amounts of lutein which is found in the retina of the eye. Lutein protects the eye from the development of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Are there any risks to feeding your pet Marigold?
Calendula should not be given to pregnant animals and it should be noted that some pets have demonstrated allergic reaction to plants in the daisy (aster) family.
Calendula may have anti-cancer effects. Research has confirmed the anti-cancer effects of calendula extracts on tumor cells from different forms of leukemias, melanomas and other cancers.
While the marigold flowers are quite pretty, many people find their odor offensive. (It’s this odor that detracts the insects).
Pot marigold has been called the “flower of the rains.” Some believe that if the flower opens in the morning, then it will rain that day.