Milk thistle is a bioflavonoid and a member of the aster family and is originally found in the Mediterranean regions: Southern Europe and North Africa, as well as Southeast Asia. This plant and, more specifically, the seeds and roots of this plant have been used medicinally since ancient Roman times, so it is mainly used to detoxify and regenerate the liver.
Much like humans, milk thistle herbal remedy for dogs is growingly becoming popular as it can be a great all-natural solution to a lot of health problems. It is called “milk thistle” thanks to the shape of the leaves, which are prominent and splashed with white spots. Keep reading to learn more about the different milk thistle benefits for dogs.
The liver, as we know, helps in the breakdown and elimination of toxins and chemicals from the body. The detoxifying properties of milk thistle prevent liver damage due to exposure to these toxins and chemicals in dogs. Three important chemical elements that have been isolated from milk thistle:
The mix of these three substances is called Silymarin.
Animals and are exposed to different toxins daily. There are substances which are present in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. We can’t get away from them, and like people, pets’ liver also purifies poisonous substances out of the blood. Since the liver works hard by filtering and eliminating all of these toxic substances, it is highly susceptible to serious damage.
Uses and Benefits of Milk Thistle in Dogs
Silymarin, which in turn is a combination of many other active compounds, has been widely studied in the scientific world and has proven to be safe and effective for treating some liver diseases and other pathologies.
Silymarin acts on many important processes in the body:
- Increased liver regeneration (recovery) by increasing DNA and RNA production
- Prevention of poisoning by various drugs and toxic substances, making the membrane of liver cells less permeable to them
- Inhibition of proliferation of viruses in the liver, such as hepatitis C virus
- Neutralization of free radicals and increase in the level of the main antioxidant – glutathione
- Decreased production of inflammatory cytokines in the liver (TNF-a, interferon-beta) while increasing anti-inflammatory protection (IL-10)
- Inhibition of the growth of malignant tumors in dogs and cats and increased death of cancer cells, causing the activity of the anti-cancer p53 gene and including signaling pathways for cell death
It shields liver cells from poisonous substances which are not good (counting medications and overwhelming metals), enacts protein synthesis, and invigorates the development of new liver cells to restore dead or harmed ones. Milk thistle is also a powerful antioxidant (reduces free radicals) and provides anti-inflammatory action. It very well may be utilized in the treatment of liver lipidosis, interminable hepatitis, cholangitis (irritation of the bile pipes), and inflammation of the tissue around the bile channels.
Treatments and use
It can be useful for preventing or treating gallstones by diluting the bile. Many dogs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) simultaneously develop inflammation of the liver, biliary system, and pancreas. The combination of these symptoms is called “Triaditis”, and since the beneficial actions of milk thistle focus on the liver and biliary systems, it can also be useful in dogs with IBD.
Milk thistle should be considered as a supplement to drug therapy, vaccinations, and as a potential supplemental therapy for cancer. Some researchers concluded that “silymarin has protective effects against the development of tumors to prevent diabetic neuropathy. A complication of the disease that causes degeneration of the nerves that control the hind limbs. This consequently causes weakness and an abnormal gait of the dog.
The milk thistle strengthens the immune system of the dog through its powerful antioxidant action and the ability to preserve the contribution of another important antioxidant, and glutathione has direct effects on immune cells. Glutathione, which is mainly stored in the liver, decreases over time, and the depletion of this protein seems to accelerate the aging process.
Although it is not exactly an elixir of youth, milk thistle clearly has significant beneficial effects on our animals. Obviously, before adding this herb to the dog’s diet, it is important to know that some herbalists believe that milk thistle works better as a treatment for an existing disease rather than being used as prevention on a healthy dog.
Benefits of Milk Thistle in Dogs
- Milk thistle protects the liver against toxins such as heavy metal and medications and is highly effective in the treatment of various liver diseases. Helping in stimulating the growth of new liver cells it helps repair the damage.
- Milk thistle for dogs with liver diseases, such as hepatitis, fatty liver, cholangitis, pericoronitis, and hepatic lipidosis, helps to cure these problems by increasing intracellular glutathione levels, a substance necessary for detoxification reactions.
- It has potent anti-inflammatory and also antioxidant properties that help in the destruction of oxygen free radicals that cause degenerative diseases, including cancer, and is used in the treatment of gallstones and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Milk thistle given to pets after a medication regimen can protect the dog’s liver from damage or harmful effects of chemicals. This may include chemicals taken for the treatment of any type of heart disease or even vaccines and preventive applications against heartworm, ticks, and fleas.
- Ingestion of Amanita phalloides mushrooms by dogs can cause serious liver damage in them. These fungi comprise two or more poisons called phalloidin and amanitin that can lead to liver imbalance and eventual death in dogs. Silymarin in milk thistle, if administered before ingestion of these fungi, is almost 100% effective in preventing deaths and liver damage in dogs.
- Leptospirosis (a bacterial infection) and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) are some common liver problems and can be treated with milk thistle.
How Can I Give Milk Thistle to My Dog?
The commonly recommended milk thistle extract contains between 70 and 80% Silymarin, the precise percentage quantity must be indicated on the label. Most milk thistle products for pets have the recommended dosage written in the package. It usually differs based on the weight of the pet and the concentration of Silymarin. Follow the instructions or seek help from a vet to find the appropriate dosage for your dog.
Dogs with liver diseases generally don’t eat, so try opening a capsule and mix the right amount with dog food or baby food and administer it directly into the mouth with a needleless syringe. Too high a dose can cause stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea; these symptoms disappear by decreasing the doses. Also, dog weighting places an important role.
Finally, even if interactions with other drugs are not known, it is always important to consult your veterinarian. There is some evidence showing that long-term ingestion of high doses of milk thistle could suppress the liver function of the animal. However, moderate use of milk thistle is safe.
Where can I purchase milk thistle products?
Most pet supplies in North America carry a lot of different types of milk thistle products. Consult with your veterinarian before giving any products to your dogs and cats. Especially if they have any kind of heart disease. Also, ask your vet for the number of capsules per day that can be beneficial for your cats and dogs. As a pet owner, you need to make sure that the milk thistle liver benefits are what your companion animals needs.
Milk thistle is known to be a good treatment for dogs. However, it is important that you understand the right amount of dosage for dogs. This includes pets that are not insulin resistant or if your pet is suffering from any foreign body, fungal infection, or other diseases. Also, keep an eye on your dog’s body to see if any of this product causes an allergic reaction.
Can milk thistle be used to treat kidney problems?
Most milk thistle products are known to be used to treat kidney damage. After a period of time, giving your dog a mix of antioxidants together milk thistle can be a beneficial natural remedy to help them have a healthy liver and improve their overall pets life. However, keep an eye on what your dogs eat on a daily basis, including the dog treats. Consult with a vet the correct MG of milk thistle amount used for kidney disease in dogs or cats.
Is It Good for dogs with liver disease?
Liver damage in animals is much more common than most pet parents think. Some dog breeds are more prone to liver health problems than others. For instance, Great Danes and Labradors have trouble excreting copper, which puts a lot of stress on their livers. This is why vets often catch the early signs of liver degeneration and recommend milk thistle as a preventive tonic.
People use milk thorns as a liver tonic. Milk thistle is now being regularly prescribed by vets as a liver tonic for pets. They seem to be producing the same purifying benefits as they do with humans. It is often recommended to treat kidney and liver issues, jaundice, hepatitis, and other ailments in cats and dogs, ferrets, horses, and other pets.
As previously mentioned, the Silymarin is known to reduce liver damages caused by chemicals. Also, other poisoning plants such as the death cap mushroom. Also, the Silymarin fights toxins and acts as an antioxidant, helping the liver to rebuild itself. Milk thistle is among the top of the list of supplements for dogs that treat liver problems naturally.
Most vegetarian capsules on the market provide health benefits to your pets that have liver problems. You will notice the effects of milk thistle or a correlation with body language, joint health, reduced ear infections, and other benefits. It also helps your pet during liver detoxed. Especially when your dog has elevated liver enzymes, which is typically associated with liver malfunctioning.
Can milk thistle help dogs with Cushings disease?
Dogs with Cushings disease suffer from a special condition of overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Whenever your dog suffers from this condition, it can also cause bladder infections due to a suppressed immune system.
Most veterinarians suggest that milk thistle can help improve overall health, including the adrenal gland, liver, and kidney. Also, the right amount of milk thistle dosage can also help with pets that suffer from Cushings syndrome.
Right Dosage Amount
Overall most vets recommend 60 to 120 mg for every 10 pounds of body weight. Ask your veterinarian if the dosage recommended refers to a concentrated extract powder or from whole grounds milk thistle seeds. However, not all pet insurance covers the milk thistle on their policies.
Read the complete list of active ingredients of the product before making the final purchase. Also, ask your vet what the appropriate dosage based on a pound of body weight is. Especially when you are dealing with a senior dog with allergies.
Milk thistle is a medicinal plant that is containing a substance that has been clinically proven to be effective in reducing several dog health problems in both humans and dogs. Having a complex composition, Silymarin obtained from the plant has a beneficial effect on the liver, fights intoxication, and can act as an antioxidant.
There are many thistle-based hepatoprotection products available in the pharmaceutical market. However, not all have the same quality or have the same level of purity. The effectiveness of “pure” Silymarin isolated in the laboratory in an expensive and time-consuming way has been clinically proven. All its other forms, including natural ones, have low bioavailability.
So we can conclude that milk thistle herbal remedy for dogs in the pet food industry has potential benefits. It’s mostly recommended as a preventive instead of being prescribed as a cure. When mixed together with other antioxidants. For example, tocopherol and rosemary, it prevents the oxidation of the product, that is, they act as natural preservatives.
Milk thistle for dogs comes in the form of powder, capsules or liquid. However, it is not recommended to give milk thistle in liquid form to dogs, as it may contain alcohol. Therefore, consult a veterinarian before giving dog milk thistle to your pet and read the ingredients carefully before buying it.
It’s also recommended to specifically buy Herbsmiths milk thistle or Lignans for life milk thistle products. Consult with your vet to ensure they contain safe ingredients. Look for more tips in our health blog post, including dog treats, dog care, and more.
Last Updated on 14/02/2024 by Karen Snow
Hi! I’m Karen and a certified dog lover. As a freelance writer and blogger, I do my best to squeeze in some time with my dogs, learning more about the way they act and how I can make sure that they continue to stay well-cared for by yours truly.
My dogs have helped me through a lot, and this is my way of giving back to them! Besides animals, I also love to travel and cook, having explored my country’s restaurants and unique places. Follow me as I show you all the amazing tips and bits of information I learn along the way about our furry friends!