Milk thistle extract is derived from the milk thistle plant. For years this plant has been used for medicinal purposes. Milk thistle for dogs can even be an amazing supplement for your pooch and their liver!
What is Milk Thistle For Dogs?
Milk thistle is an ancient medicinal plant. For over 2000 years, milk thistle was used to treat cases of liver and kidney disease. In recent years, researchers suggest that milk thistle may also act as an anti-cancer plant. Milk thistle extract comes from the seeds of the milk thistle plant. The active ingredient of the derived chemical is silymarin which is the primary interest of research amongst experts.
What is Silymarin? How Does It Work?
Before we get into the details of milk thistle for dogs, it’s important to cover the important biochemistry of silymarin, and how it works. Silymarin is also referred to as a hepatoprotective compound.
When an animal, or human, consumes food or toxins, the metabolic action (breakdown) of food results in the production of free radicals in the body. The accumulation of free radicals is “bad” as they lead to cellular membrane damage and lipoperoxidation.
The pawesome thing about silymarin is that it’s been shown to inhibit the activity of free radicals. Silymarin also increases hepatic glutathione (think of this as a compounds ability to help the liver detoxify) and the livers antioxidant activity.
What Conditions Does Milk Thistle Treat!
Milk thistle, in theory, can treat various kinds of conditions in human beings. Similarly, the same is true for our pets! Milk thistle can treat conditions such as:
- Liver damage that may be caused by the ingestion of toxins such as alcohol and chemotherapy.
- Milk thistle for dogs can treat conditions such as jaundice, cirrhosis, chronic inflammatory liver disease, and chronic hepatitis.
- Kidney damage and kidney disease.
Cushing’s Disease and Milk Thistle
Cushing’s disease is a disease that increases the concentration of a hormone known as adrenocorticotropin (ACTH). When there is an excessive amount of ACTH in the body, the pituitary gland, located on the brain, will react by secreting excess cortisol hormones.
When an animal or human has too much cortisol in their body, they begin to experience the symptoms of Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease occurs as a result of tumor growths pushing onto the pituitary gland. In humans, the most common method of treatment would involve brain surgery.
However, through the use of animal models, current researchers are looking into using the milk thistle extract called silibinin as an alternative treatment to Cushing’s disease. Evidently, scientists firmly believe milk thistle extract can be manipulated to treat various kinds of conditions like lymphoblastic leukemia, multiple myeloma, Cushing’s disease, and lung tumors.
Kidney Disease and Milk Thistle
The kidney works closely with the liver to clean out harsh toxins from the body. So, in theory, it is possible that milk thistle for dogs can indeed work to detoxify the kidney by reducing the number of toxins the kidney may need to filter out.
Additionally, the active compound in milk thistle, silymarin, has protective abilities. This means that when given on a long-term basis, silymarin can reduce functional damage to the kidney. This proves to be extremely beneficial for dogs who have kidney failure or other forms of kidney disease.
Milk Thistle For Dogs Benefits
Milk thistle for dogs is most commonly used as a remedy for healing, and even reversing, liver damage and promoting good liver health. Interestingly, it’s also associated with an improvement in cardiac health and helping type-2 diabetics.
A powerful detoxifier, milk thistle can improve the health of those suffering from cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver damage caused by industrial toxins. It plays an important role in helping the liver purify the blood as well.
The plant also improves insulin resistance in type-2 diabetics, lowering the overall level of sugar in the blood. Lastly, milk thistle promotes healthy cardiac systems due to its ability to lower LDL — also known as “bad cholesterol.”
Milk thistle helps pets and humans alike by reducing the impact of their allergies, making life easier and all around more enjoyable.
Similar to humans, milk thistle for dogs can help with kidney disease in your pup as well. Whether these liver problems are caused by inadequate use of medication, or simply by genetic reasons, milk thistle can indeed improve kidney health.
How To Detox Liver With Milk Thistle
Being a powerful antioxidant, milk thistle protects the body from harmful chemicals that would otherwise attack cells and destroy them. Milk thistle in particular, is especially good at making sure the liver cells aren’t oxidized by these free radical chemicals.
Medication, when taken for long periods of time, can also induce liver damage. Milk thistle’s healing properties revert any damage done and prevents future destruction of the liver.
Lastly, milk thistle helps the body rid itself of toxins. If the liver is under too much stress to break down these toxins and can’t do it anymore, the chemicals that make up milk thistle will do it instead. This guarantees no toxic build up in the bloodstream. Histamines, which are related to bad allergies, are some of the toxins that milk thistle can help clean up, ensuring no major allergy reactions.
Milk Thistle Side Effects
Milk thistle has very few side effects, and not everyone who consumes the extract will experience them. These side effects can include nausea, bloating, increased gas production, an upset stomach, and diarrhea — although the latter is less common.
Because this is not seen in many cases, veterinarians are inclined to believe that some of these symptoms could be allergic reactions to milk thistle. Moreover, because of the possible laxative effect the plant may have on dogs, vets recommend starting out with smaller doses and increasing it to the maximum daily recommended amount. As your dog gets more used to this substance, the least likely it is that they will experience any of these side effects.
When ingested, harmful toxins can really mess up your pet’s health. Some dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Dalmatians, and Great Danes are particularly at risk for liver-related diseases. Their genetic inability to get rid of excess copper can cause big problems in their overall health. Likewise, other breeds can also have a bad time at eliminating heavy metals and pesticides — and this is where milk thistle comes in.
Some dogs are especially finicky when it comes to taking medicine, but thankfully there are several ways you can give milk thistle to your dog without it being a hassle. Because plant extracts come in many forms, you can choose the most convenient for you and your dog.
Milk Thistle Extract
The best versions of the product for your dog’s health are the ones containing 70-80% silymarin. You can find it at a natural product store in the form of a capsule, a tablet, a powder, or a liquid extract. All of these forms are safe for consumption and are effective in fighting liver disease, diabetes, and heart problems.
Milk Thistle For Dogs Dosage
The best form of milk thistle to give your dog is the one that contains 70-80% of silymarin, one of the chemical components in milk thistle.
In the beginning, it’s recommended to give your pup a quarter of a teaspoon per 20 pounds of canine body weight per day. For example, if your furry four-legged best friend weighs 40 pounds, you should give them half a teaspoon of the extract every day.
If you are using a powdered extract, you should give them 2-5 mg per pound of body weight. If your dog weighs 40 pounds, you should give them anywhere between 80 and 200 mg of powdered extract.
When using liquid milk thistle extract, start by adding 1/4 tablespoon of milk thistle extract per 20 lbs of your dogs body weight. Milk thistle works best when given in small doses throughout the day. We suggest dividing the recommended amount into fourths. For instance, if the recommended amount is 1 tbsp, you should give the dog 1/4 tbsp four times per day.
Ways You Can Add Milk Thistle To Your Dog’s Diet!
Like with any other medication, you might have to hide the milk thistle in your dog’s food. If you already have a routine down when you give your pup their meds, add milk thistle extract to the routine. Because it comes in different forms — powdered and liquid, etc. — you have more freedom to choose how to administer it.
If you don’t have experience tricking your dog into taking medicine without them knowing, here are some simple tips on how to achieve this with milk thistle extracts.
If you buy the oral capsules, a tub of powder, or tablets, open or crush them and mix the powder in their food and add a few drops of water to make sure all the powder mixes in and doesn’t get clumpy. Make sure that your furry friend eats everything in the bowl!
When using liquid extract, simply add the recommended amount into your dog’s food or to their favorite treat.
What Studies Say: Milk Thistle For Dogs
In 2000, a study summarized the various clinical trials done, using milk thistle as an alternative treatment for liver disease and cirrhosis. It was found that milk thistle on a physiological level does indeed alter the physiologic markers of liver function. This is due to the fact that it does indeed have hepatoprotective functions that stimulate antioxidant activity, work as a toxin blockade, enhance protein synthesis, has anti-inflammatory effects, and antifibrotic activity.
A study done in 2017 aimed to look at the effects that silymarin could have on the liver enzymes known as ALT, AST, and γGT. These liver enzymes are important indicators of liver function. In this study, the compound silymarin did not affect the liver cells drastically.
Milk Thistle for Dogs-Does It Really Work?
As you can see, there is conflicting evidence on the topic. Studies show that on a membrane level, milk thistle extract does indeed have a positive impact on the liver cells. While other studies conclusively state that the effects of milk thistle are minimal.
Nevertheless, it is plausible to state that although minimal, milk thistle extract does contribute to healthy liver function in dogs and cats.
Top Milk Thistle For Dogs Products on the Market!
Are you ready to introduce your beloved pet to milk thistle? Perhaps you’re unsure as to what kind of milk thistle products are out there on the market?
Believe it or not, there are many milk thistle products available for pet owners. All you need to do is have a look! You can find milk thistle products on:
- In the health food/ medicinal aisle of your local pet store
- At a holistic vets clinic!
To make it easier for you, we have created a list of some of our favorite milk thistle for dogs products.
Lignans for Life: Milk Thistle for Dogs Capsules
What’s so special about it? Liver support and anti-inflammatory effects! Lignans for Life provides milk thistle extract in the form of capsules, making it easy to add to your pet’s diet.
Pros: It does support liver function and is fairly inexpensive
Cons: while the Amazon site does claim it is for dogs, the actual package does not state “for the use on dogs”. As such, it is important that owners verify dosage rates with their veterinarian.
Pet Wellbeing – Milk Thistle for Dogs
What’s so special about it? Pet Wellbeing Milk Thistle comes in liquid form. It contains no other active compounds but milk thistle. Pet Wellbeing Milk Thistle also claims to support your pet’s liver health.
Pros: It’s glycerin based and contains bacon flavor which will keep those fussy pets happy. Dogs and cats can both use Pet Wellbeing Milk Thistle.
Cons: It is one of the more pricey products. A two-ounce bottle can cost $34.95 on Amazon.
Reviews: Here’s what Amazon customers say about this product!
I like how this doesn’t change the taste of my dog’s food. Results are still to come in. But I’m just happy my dog is taking it right now!
Milk Thistle for Dogs: An Herbal Remedy That Works Wonders!
While most herbal remedies may seem a bit far-fetched to work, milk thistle is certainly a unique plant! Today, there has been a lot of ongoing research and evidence that does show that milk thistle extract can be extremely beneficial in reducing liver damage by encouraging liver cells to maintain healthy liver function.
So, we believe that milk thistle for dogs is, without a doubt, one pawesome remedy that can work wonders! Do you have a pet with liver failure? Have you ever used milk thistle for dogs? Let us know your story in the comments below!
Illustrations inspired by our furry-angel, Princess!