Natural remedies can be an excellent option for doggy health issues; milk thistle is no exception.
However, before you give your pup this herbal supplement, you should know some essential things about milk thistle benefits.
Here’s the scoop on milk thistle for dogs — including when it’s safe to use and what benefits it offers.
What is milk thistle?
Milk thistle is a plant native to Europe and North Africa whose spikes of purple flowers are its most recognizable feature.
The medicinal properties come from its seeds, which contain silymarin — a combination of three active chemicals.
It is thought to have antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects. It has been used as medicine since the Roman Empire, remaining popular today because it supports health and prevents disease.
Dog liver disease and milk thistle
The most common use for milk thistle in dogs is to support liver health by helping them process toxins more efficiently.
Limited studies show, and there is anecdotal evidence, that the supplement treats liver disease by inhibiting cell-damaging enzymes and providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
This makes it especially useful for dogs suffering from liver disease, liver damage, or liver failure.
How else can milk thistle help dogs?
Other benefits include helping combat allergens by strengthening your dog’s liver, as allergic reactions are more common when the liver cannot break down toxins.
Additionally, milk thistle is an excellent source of antioxidants that helps protect your canine companion from environmental toxins and free radicals. It can also help reduce inflammation and increase energy levels in dogs exposed to high pollutants or other toxins.
The supplement is also prescribed for kidney disease in dogs as it helps support treatments while reducing the disease’s progression.
Finally, it can have tremendous benefits for dogs with cancer, as it helps protect against the adverse effects of traditional medications while improving liver function.
This makes it an incredibly effective supplement to add to your pet’s diet if it suffers from chronic illness.
Making sure milk thistle is safe for your dog
While milk thistle can be beneficial for some doggy health issues, it’s essential to know that it is not intended for everyday use and should not be given as treatment or a preventative measure without consulting with your vet first.
It also should not be given to pregnant or lactating dogs unless directed by a vet since there isn’t enough research available on the effects of milk thistle during these stages.
Some professionals believe it should not be given to a dog for an extended period — no more than 3-6 weeks — because of negative side effects, like potential adverse effects on the liver.
Can you give dogs too much milk thistle?
Milk thistle is generally considered safe when given orally in small amounts; however, too much can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Following dosage recommendations and speaking with your veterinarian before giving your dog supplements is essential.
How to give milk thistle to your dog
It can be found in various forms — liquid tincture, powder, or capsules — making it easy to incorporate into your dog’s diet. But how do you feed it to your furry family member?
Wet food is one of the easiest ways to feed milk thistle to your dog. This method masks the supplement’s taste so your dog doesn’t even know it’s getting a dose of medicine.
Peanut butter can also be used to deliver this supplement to your dog. Simply mix the powdered form with a tablespoon of pet-safe peanut butter. The peanut butter will mask any bitterness and make it easier for your dog to swallow.
Bone broth has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its health benefits and ability to provide nutrients directly through cell walls — meaning more absorption into the body.
You can make homemade bone broth or buy bone broth from the store and stir in the milk thistle just before serving.
Final thoughts on milk thistle for dogs
If you think your furry friend may benefit from taking supplements or if your vet has prescribed them as part of your dog’s treatment plan, speak with your vet about how much and how often your dog should take the supplement as well as any risks associated with it before starting any course of treatment.
This way, you can make sure that you are properly treating your dog’s ailment while at the same time making sure its safety is a priority.