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Milk Thistle for Dogs and Cats

Safe to use as a dietary supplement, alternative medicine
for most dogs and cats
In this article…
1. Milk Thistle
2. Health Benefits
3. Cautions

4. Side Effects
5. Drug Interactions
6. General Guideline for Daily Herbal Intake
1.0 Milk Thistle  
Also known by the name: Carduus marianus, Silybum mariamum, Silybum, Silybin, Silymarin, Silymarine, St. Mary’s Thistle, Marianus, Marianum, Our Lady’s Thistle, etc.
Milk thistle is an herbal plant that is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean regions – today it can be found growing wild in many places around the world including North America.  . In-fact my dogs often appear at the door decorated with the dried flower head of the plant – the thistle or burr after having brushed-up against the plant in their explorations around the yard or meadow. The burr of the thistle is not an easy seed-head to remove from some types of fur. Milk Thistle is much loved by butterflies.
Milk thistle has been used in traditional herbal medicine for thousands of years – its recorded use dates back to the 1st century. Over the centuries milk thistle was used for many ailments including disorders of the liver, kidney, spleen.
Medicinal Properties in Milk Thistle
The healing properties of milk thistle come primarily from:
  • The seed (the fruit) of the milk thistle that contains silymarin;
    • Silymarin:
      • Is a flavonol (antioxidant) that protects the liver from oxidation;
      • Blocks hepatotixic substances from crossing cell membranes – acting to protect the liver from toxic substances;
      • Stimulates cell regeneration. 
      • Silymarin:
        • Is stored in the liver where it contributes to regeneration and protection of the liver;
        • Which also in-turn works to protect the immune system and metabolism. 
 
Milk Thistle can be used in various forms:
  • Dry powder;
  • Liqued;
  • Tea – infusion;
  • Tincture – use alcohol-free only;
  • Supplement – capsule, pill;
  • Or as part of a silymarin phosphatidylcholine complex,
  • (Also sold in combination with dandelion and other herbs)
 
2.0 Health Benefits
A partial list…
  • Allergies – seasonal (allergic rhinitis);
  • Anti-inflammatory (liver, allergies);
  • Appetite loss;
  • Cancer – breast, cervical, prostate;
  • Depression;
  • Detoxification of the liver;
  • Diseases of the spleen;
  • Gallbladder problems;
  • Heartburn;
  • Improving liver function;
  • Liver disorders;
    • Cirrhosis of the liver;
    • Chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation);
    • Chronic inflammatory liver disease;
    • Damage caused by chemicals;
3.0 Cautions…
If your dog or cat:
  • Is pregnant or lactating do not use milk thistle;
  • Is allergic to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family (i.e. arnica, daises, marigolds, etc.).
4.0 Side Effects…
In some individuals may cause:
  • Appetite loss;
  • Bloating;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Indigestion;
  • Intestinal gas;
  • Nausea,
5.0 Drug Interactions…
  • Anticoagulant, Antiplatelet drugs;
  • Estrogen;
  • Medications that are changed or broken down by the liver;
6.0 General Guideline…
Daily Herbal Intake Based on Dog’s or Cat’s Weight
Weight
Dry Powders


Teas
Capsules/Tablets
Tinctures
1-10 lbs
a small pinch up to 1/8 tsp
less than 1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
1/2 capsule, 1-3 times/day
1-3 drops, 2-3 times/day
10-20 lbs
1 larger pinch – 1/8 to ¼ tsp
1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
1/2-1 capsule/tablet, 1-3 times/day
3-5 drops, 2-3 times/day
20-50 lbs
2 pinches – 1 teaspoon
1/4-1/2 cup, 1-3 times/day
1-2 capsules/tablets, 2-3 times/day
5-10 drops, 2-3 times/day
50-100 lbs 10-
2 pinches – 2 teaspoons
1/2-1 cup, 1-3 times/day
1-2 capsules/tablets, 3-4 times/day
20 drops, 2-3 times/day
Over 100 lbs,
up to 1 tablespoon
up to 1 cup 3 times/day
adult human dose
adult human dose

About Karen

Dogs are my life, my work, my passion… I am a Dog Whisperer, Dog Behaviorist and Holistic Canine Wellness Adviser with a wealth of real-time, real-life experience living and working with dogs. For two and a half decades I have worked with and shared my life with dogs. My own dog pack is comprised of eleven dogs, various breeds and ages. I provide a full range of services including Obedience Training for puppies and dogs; canine Behavior Modification; canine Psychological Rehabilitation, specializing in assisting dogs that are experiencing extreme states of insecurity, anxiety and aggressive-reactive behavior; Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Advice and Plans for canines and felines…natural wisdom for you and your companion animal.

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