Milk thistle for dogs

Many herbal remedies that we use can also offer the same benefits to our faithful four-legged friends. One of the most commonly-used and effective natural remedies is milk thistle, and today I’m going to discuss using milk thistle for dogs, which can be incredibly beneficial as we’ll see. So read on to learn more.

The benefits of milk thistle for dogs

What is milk thistle?

Like many natural remedies, milk thistle is a plant; its scientific name is Silybum marianum. When the plant’s leaves are crushed, this produces a milky white fluid and this is the source of its name.

Milk thistle is a natural remedy that’s been used by mankind for thousands of years, most often to treat liver ailments including cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis and gallbladder problems. It’s also used to improve cholesterol levels and improve heart health, to treat kidney problems, diabetes and improve brain health.

So what about milk thistle for dogs?

Milk thistle for dogs

Toxins are everywhere in the modern world, and it’s the liver’s job to filter them out from our bodies, along with performing other tasks such as producing bile. And when your liver gets over-loaded with toxic chemicals, this can cause liver disease and damage, something that applies to dogs just as much as us humans.

While your dog (hopefully!) doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, they’re still exposed to toxic chemicals every day in the form of car exhaust fumes, smoke, pesticides and even their own food, to name just a few sources.

And as well as toxic chemicals, drugs can be another cause of liver toxicity in dogs especially in some breeds. Some dogs are genetically more likely to suffer liver problems due to certain drugs. Example breeds are German Shepherds, Labradors, and Dalmatians.

There are other causes of liver disease in dogs too, such as bacteria and viruses.

But how do you know if your dog has liver problems?

Symptoms of liver problems in dogs

If your dog is suffering from liver problems, typical symptoms will usually include the following:

  • Appetite loss.
  • Darker urine.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Jaundice.
  • Lethargy.
  • Sudden weightloss.

If you think your dog may be suffering from liver disease, you should consult with your vet immediately. If you wish to use milk thistle to treat your dog, it’s probably best to consult with a holistic vet.

Milk thistle for dogs with liver disease

Using milk thistle for dogs with liver disease has proven to be an effective form of treatment. Indeed, not only can milk thistle treat the liver damage, but it can also help to prevent it too.

The main active ingredient – a substance called silymarin – has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. And milk thistle helps to prevent toxins binding to the liver, as well as helping to flush out any existing toxins. The silymarin in milk thistle also promotes the regeneration of liver cells.

So what about the correct milk thistle dosage for dogs? How much and how often should you give it to your dog?

Milk thistle dosage for dogs

You can buy milk thistle in tablet, capsule or liquid form. It usually contains about 80% silymarin. The actual dosage depends on your dog’s size and weight, as well as the form of milk thistle and the concentration of silymarin it contains.If you’re in doubt, you should consult with your vet.

If you’re going to be using the liquid form, the recommended dosage for dogs is about 1ml per 20 pounds of body weight.

Below is a recommended dosage chart for the powder form containing 80% silymarin.

Dog Weight (lbs)Daily Dosage (mg)

It’s recommended that you split the dosage into three or four doses over the course of the day, rather than giving the whole dose in one go.

What else is milk thistle good for?

As well as milk thistle being used to treat liver probems in dogs, it can also be used for various other ailments too. Some of these include:

  • Diabetes.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Pancreatitis.

Side effects

There are very few side effects of using milk thistle for dogs and it’s generally very safe. Possible side effects are diarrhea and an upset stomach. You can often get rid of these by reducing the milk thistle dosage.

You should also avoid giving milk thistle to pregnant and lactating dogs.

Finally, you shouldn’t give your dog milk thistle on a permanent basis as a preventative measure. This is because there’s some evidence that long-term use can impair liver function.


Using milk thistle for dogs can have many positive effects, including helping to prevent and treat liver disease and damage, diabetes and other health issues. It’s an effective treatment for any liver problems caused by giving your dog medicinal drugs.

You should always consult your vet before starting to give your dog any medicine, including herbal remedies.

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