Milk Thistle for Dogs - Does it Help?

Milk Thistle for Dogs - Does it Help?

Author WDF Staff


Herbal remedies’ efficiency and effectiveness are still heavily debated. Some things that can be found on the market are entirely useless. However, milk thistle is not one of those things. This plant lives up to the hype, and it has been used for centuries as a supplement and medication. The Latin name for this plant is Silybum marianum. It is used for treating all sorts of liver problems and diseases in humans. But what about dogs? Is milk thistle for dogs effective? Stick around, and you will find out everything you need to know about giving milk thistle to your dog.

What is milk thistle?

Milk thistle is a medicinal plant that is used in medicine because of its healing properties. This plant proved its usefulness times and times again. In milk thistle seeds, there is a flavinoid called silymarin. The seeds are crushed, and various types of remedies and medications are made from them.

Many scientific studies were focused on understanding the effect silymarin has on the body. The studies proved silymarin from the seeds has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is a potent antioxidant. Not only that, but it also promotes cell growth and regeneration and has a detoxifying effect.

milk thistle flower

Is milk thistle for dogs safe?

Yes, milk thistle is safe for dogs to use, but there are some things you should know. Your dog will reap all the health benefits milk thistle can offer them, and there are only mild side effects possible. The side effects usually involve gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea. However, before you decide to give milk thistle or silymarin to your dog, make sure you talk to your vet and ask for advice. Your vet will know if milk thistle is necessary for your dog.

Milk thistle should be given to your dog carefully. It is not an all-in-one cure and should be given to your dog only if your vet recommends it. It can be used for dealing with liver problems and as a part of the therapy for some severe health concerns like cancer. However, vets usually recommend giving milk thistle to your dog for 6 weeks. If any further treatment is needed, you should wait at least 3 weeks before your dog uses it again.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Scientific studies about the effects milk thistle has on pregnant and lactating dogs have not been conducted. It is unknown whether milk thistle usage is safe for pregnant or lactating dogs, so if your dog is pregnant, it would be best not to use milk thistle.

What is milk thistle used for?

Before we go into milk thistle usage, we need to understand what our dog’s livers are responsible for. The liver is a vital organ that is responsible for more than 500 different body functions. It is an understatement to say that a healthy liver is necessary to have a healthy dog. Some of the functions livers are responsible for are;

  • Filters toxins and bacteria
  • Supports the breakdown, distribution, and absorption of nutrients
  • Stores and releases blood sugar
  • Assists in blood clotting
  • Assists the dog’s immune system

milk thistles

As your dog ages, the liver loses its effectiveness. The bacteria and toxins build up and lower liver functions. One of the uses of milk thistle is detoxication. Vets might recommend you detox your dog (with a special aim at their liver) by giving them milk thistle for a couple of weeks. It will promote cell regeneration and flush most of the toxins and bacteria from your dog’s liver.

Milk thistle usage

There is a whole range of health issues milk thistle can help with. If you notice your dog having health issues and your vet suspects it is liver-related, ask them if giving milk thistle to your dog is a good option. Most vets will agree and prescribe silymarin to your dog. Some of the health issues silymarin (milk thistle) can help your dog with are;

  • Hepatic lipidosis
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts)
  • Pericholangitis (tissue inflammation around those ducts)
  • Gallstone prevention and treatment
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cancer
  • Diabetic neuropathy prevention
  • Poisoning

When a dog is in treatment or taking medication, their liver is in charge of breaking it down. The liver will work very hard whenever any disease or medication is present in your dog’s body. It is a great idea to get your dog on supplements that will promote liver health and regeneration. Again, that is when milk thistle for dogs comes into play. It is a great way of making sure your dog’s liver remains healthy and function correctly.

Milk thistle dosage

Like with any other supplement or medication, the correct dosage is essential. Too small dosage won’t have the desired effect, and too large of a milk thistle dosage will have the opposite effect. The dosage of milk thistle for dogs can be very different. It will depend on why milk thistle is given to dogs.

As a supplement for detoxication, the recommended dosage is around 2 - 5 milligrams per pound of body weight once or twice a day. The correct dosage will be determined by your vet and the state of your dog’s liver.

As a medication, the milk thistle dosage for dogs will be a lot higher. If milk thistle should repair the damage already done to the liver, your vet might recommend up to 20 milligrams per pound. However, never give your dog any supplement or medication without consulting your vet first. Make sure your vet knows you are planning on giving your dog milk thistle, and they can make the final call.

World Dog Finder team

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