Milk thistle is a flower that originates from the Mediterranean regions of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. This plant has been given the name “milk thistle” because of the white spots that are apparent on its leaves.
The seeds and roots of the milk thistle plant have been used for medicinal purposes for more than 2000 years now.
Milk thistle was originally discovered to be extremely beneficial to humans, but as of late, a great deal of benefits have also been discovered for pets, most importantly dogs in our case.
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Why Is Milk Thistle Good For Dogs?
Just like milk thistle can be very beneficial to humans, the same holds true for your dog, and here’s why:
- Liver Damage: Liver disease is a very common disease in dogs, that often times strikes due to reasons not in your control nor that of your dog, such as bad genetics. Here’s where the magic of milk thistle comes in, as scientific research has shown that milk thistle can not only stop liver damage from developing, but can help repair any liver damage that your dog already suffers from by aiding with the regeneration of new and healthy liver cells.
- Kidney Disease: Milk thistle has been scientifically proven to drastically speed up the healing process of your dog’s kidney disease.
- Oxidation: Milk thistle is loaded with antioxidants that protect our bodies and those of our dogs alike from free radicals that do a lot of damage to body cells. This damage, if not stopped, can lead to a whole host of problems such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis, a very common disease in dogs where the pancreas becomes inflamed and often times requires surgery, can be greatly alleviated by taking milk thistle.
- Cancer: Whether it’s helping your dog fight against existing cancer and decrease the toll it’s taking on their body or preventing the probability of cancer forming in your dog’s body, milk thistle is excellent for both cases.
- Diabetes: Studies have shown that dogs who are given milk thistle for as little as one time per week do not need nearly as much insulin injections as other diabetic dogs which are not given milk thistle.
- Detoxification: Thanks to the very powerful antioxidant properties milk thistle has, it’s a perfect choice for a detoxification plan. If your dog has been on any sort of medication for a certain period of time and required detoxification, milk thistle is one of the best supplements you could ever go with.
Milk Thistle Dosage For Dogs
Milk thistle is available over-the-counter at drug stores and some grocery stores alike.
The dosages you should follow are usually clearly stated on the bottle, however you should always check with your veterinarian so they can give you an exact dosage number for your dog’s specific case, and not a one-size-fits-all answer.
The extract of milk thistle that is recommended most of the times contains 70%-80% silymarin, and is usually given at a starting dose of 1/4 tablespoon for every 20 pounds of your dog’s weight per day, divided into 2-4 equal doses.
Again, always talk to your veterinarian about this issue as they will best be able to determine the exact dosage your dog needs, as dosages can be as low as 75 mg for every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight, all the way up to 200 mg for every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight, depending on the severity of the issue in hand.
Milk Thistle Side Effects In Dogs
To date, no reports of toxicity or poisoning have been reported in dogs as a result of using milk thistle.
However, you can expect some side effects to take place, in which case you should notify your veterinarian about them immediately so they assess the situation and determine if any necessary adjustments have to be made.
The most common side effects to dogs taking milk thistle are:
- Loose stool
- Stomach pain
Most of the times, these side effects go away if you reduce the dosage of milk thistle you’re giving your dog, but do contact your veterinarian before you take such an approach all on your own.
When Is Milk Thistle For Dogs Bad?
Despite all the benefits we talked about above concerning giving milk thistle to your dog, there are some times when you should NOT give your dog any milk thistle, such as:
- Do NOT give your dog milk thistle as a “healthy daily supplement” if nothing is wrong with your dog. Milk thistle is a medication and for it to be given to your dog there must be a proper medical reason.
- Do NOT give milk thistle to pregnant dogs
- Do NOT give milk thistle to lactating dogs, because some of it can pass to the baby puppies through the mother’s milk