Healthy Additions: Milk Thistle
Yep, that weedy looking plant with purple flowers is a detox powerhouse for dogs! If your dog is suffering from allergies or a stressed liver (liver disease), then milk thistle is the herb for him!
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle is an herbal plant that has been a traditional medicine for many years. Besides the bright purple flowers, it can be identified by white markings on the leaves. The name for this plant comes from the milky sap that comes out of its broken leaves.
The seeds, leaves, and stems are used to make medicine int he form of powders and extracts. These parts of the plant contain a substance known as silymarin. Silymarin has wonderful health benefits as we will see in a minute.
This is one of the few medicinal herbs that has been favorably recognized by conventional medicine.
The Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is of most value for its ability to aid the liver in detoxification.
Here are some of the many other benefits of feeding it to your dog.
Inhibiting tumor growth, especially following vaccinations.
Protecting against and aiding recovery of liver disease.
It is an excellent healing aid after medications, vaccination, and infections.
Silymarin protects against liver diseases such as hepatic lipidosis and chronic hepatitis.
Preventing and treating diseases regarding bile and the bile ducts: cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts),pericholangitis (inflammation of the tissue around the bile ducts), thinning bile to prevent gallstones.
Useful in relieving symptoms of Irritable Bowel Disease.
Aiding treatment of diabetes, and protecting against secondary diabetic diseases such as diabetic neuropathy and liver disease.
It provides the super-powerful antioxidant glutathione for protection against free-radicals.
Preventing and treating diseases of the spleen.
There are many benefits to relieving the liver of its toxic load (a.k.a. detoxing). A stressed liver negatively affects many other body parts and systems. For example, dogs with symptoms of allergies such as dry, scaly, itchy, or red skin may be showing signs of a stressed liver. Arthritis, appetite, mood, and behavior can also be affected by the condition of the liver.
Allergic skin disease affects a massive portion of today’s pet dogs, and veterinarians and pet owners alike are continually searching for the remedy that will relieve each dog. Detoxing your dog with milk thistle might be the answer.
Safety of Milk Thistle
Before we talk about how to feed milk thistle, let’s be sure we use it safely.
Milk thistle may interact with these drugs: anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, estrogen, medications that are changed or broken down by the liver. Please consult with your veterinarian about giving milk thistle to your dog if he is on any medication.
The safety of milk thistle in pregnant and nursing dogs is unknown. It is not advised to use milk thistle in young puppies.
Overdose may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, bloating, gas, nausea, and appetite loss. You can relieve these symptoms by giving a smaller dose.
Dogs with a known allergy to plants from the Asteraceae/Compositae family, which includes marigolds and ragweed, should not be given milk thistle. There is a high likelihood that the dog would be allergic to milk thistle as well.
Besides these standard cautions, milk thistle is relatively safe to give your dog when given in proper doses.
How to Use Milk Thistle
There are two relatively easy ways to give your dog milk thistle. Add the powdered milk thistle to a bowl of food and extracts can be dropped directly into the dog’s mouth, in his drinking water, or on a meal.
“If you’re using human capsules, assume the dose is for a 150 pound person and give your dog an amount based on his body weight. For extra strength, you can add glutathione to the milk thistle (again, at the same dose if it’s a human product).”
If you cannot find a product specifically for dogs and need to use a whole powered product, use this rule of thumb for dosage:
“Detoxification is such an important process, not only for us humans, but also for our pets. We can be feeding our furry loved ones the best foods in the world but pores clogged with toxins will not allow essential nutrients to pass, causing a weakened immune system. A pet’s weakened immune system equals a multitude of problems! Milk thistle is the boss of detoxifiers!”
What if your dog can’t have milk thistle? Due to medications, life stages, and allergies, some dogs should not be given milk thistle. However, other foods offer the same detoxification benefits.
Small amounts of the beneficial foods can make a big impact on overall liver health. These foods can be fed raw, but should be finely minced, grated, or put through a food processor. As little as one to two teaspoons added to a pound of the regular diet will help.”
Now before you start giving it to your dog every day because you are so amazed at the benefits, you should know that veterinarians do not recommend daily dosing.
In fact, most veterinarians and holistic doctors agree that these herbal products should be fed off and on for best effect and safety. This is true for many herbs and natural medicinals.
Medicinal foods can collect in the body over time and reduce the effectiveness of the medicine while putting the dog at risk for overdose in the bloodstream and organs.
“Remember, medicinal herbs shouldn’t be used for extended periods of time. Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff explain in their book entitled Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance your Pet’s Life: “Despite much of the publicity that has been generated about this ‘wonder herb’, milk thistle should not be used as a daily food supplement. Milk thistle is a medicine that is best reserved for situations in which the liver is already under abnormal stress.” “
Dr. Edward Bassingthwaighte recommends feeding this detoxing-herb for up to four weeks and giving it a rest for a month or two.
Where to Find
Finding a quality source of Milk Thistle made for dogs can be difficult. The list below was created to provide pet owners with several products specially formulated for dogs to choose from.
(Note: These are not affiliative links. MySatisfiedDog.com does not receive anything for your purchases through these links.)
The benefits of using a detoxifying herb could be small, or they might be grand. In some dogs symptoms of allergic skin disease, infections, arthritis, stiffness, depression, liver disease, diabetes, and irritable bowel disease (IBD) may improve dramatically.
Doubtless, all dogs today will be at an advantage deep down in their gut when properly detoxed. Many of our normal care routines introduce toxins to our dogs and cause them a need for regular detoxification. These routines include vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm medications, and most diets.
Hopefully, this useful herb will become a Healthy Addition that is part of your arsenal of health-giving foods for your dog.
For Satisfied Dogs!
– Cassy Kay
Bassingthwaighte, Dr. Edward. “10 Steps to Manage Dog Skin Conditions” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/10-steps-to-manage-dog-skin-conditions/
CanIGiveMyDog.com. “Can Dogs Take Milk Thistle? What You Should Know About Using Milk Thistle on Your Dog” canigivemydog.com. Web. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018. https://canigivemydog.com/milk-thistle
Habib, Rodney. “‘5 Important Adds’ That Will Help Strengthen Your Pet’s Immune System” planetpaws.ca. Web. Accessed Sep. 21, 2018. https://www.planetpaws.ca/2015/07/31/herbs-pets-immune-system/
Habib, Rodney. “Milk Thistle” planetpaws.ca. Web. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018. https://www.planetpaws.ca/2015/07/04/milk-thistle-dosage/
Habib, Rodney. ” One of the Most Important Herbs to Ever Add to Your Dog’s Diet!” planetpaws.ca. Web. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018. .https://www.planetpaws.ca/2015/07/31/milk-thistle-pet-diets-detox/
Hofve, Jean DVM. “Milk Thistle for Dogs” whole-dog-journal.com. July 2002. Web. AccessedSeptt. 21, 2018. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/5_7/features/Milk-Thistle-for-Dogs_5470-1.html
Rosenfeld, Karen. “Milk Thistle – Herbs for Dogs and Cats” ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.com. “Nov. 11, 2013. Web. Accessed Sept. 21, 2018. http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.com/search?q=milk+thistle