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Is White Willow Bark Safe for Dogs?

Is White Willow Bark Safe for Dogs?

The white willow has been popular for its medicinal properties for ages, dating back to 5th century BC! But while it has been used extensively for humans, is it equally effective in healing ailments affecting dogs? The following article addresses this question.
Gauri Huddar
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2017
The White Willow Bark, also known as white willow, white bark, and Salix alba, is a tree whose leaves are covered with fine white hair, and it is native to Asia and Europe. The bark of this tree has many healing properties because it contains the compound, salicin, and it has been used to treat human ailments like osteoarthritis, joint pain, back pain, flu, etc., if taken in the right dosage, and is also much more effective than taking an aspirin. While the effectiveness of this tree has been proved in case of humans, whether or not they are effective in the case of dogs is a completely different question.

White Willow Bark for Dogs

White willow bark is the herb that is used for making aspirin, since there is the right amount of salicin in it. Salicin is necessary to produce salicylic acid, which is used as an antibiotic as well as for treating many other ailments. Although scientists have successfully made a synthetic salicylic acid supplement in labs, it has proved to be difficult for the stomach to digest. Dogs can be administered white willow, as their digestive system is much stronger than ours. But even then, they should be administered the drug only after consulting the vet. The amount that is administered makes all the difference between helping your dog and harming your dog. Given in an appropriate dosage, this herb acts as a painkiller just like aspirin, and helps relieve pain in small to medium-sized animals. Dogs get arthritis just like humans do, and the white willow bark has been used for decades to help reduce this pain in dogs, but most of the recorded data is built on the experiences obtained in clinics and not based on proper research work.

Dosage, Usage and Side Effects

Apart from arthritis, white willow bark is also used to treat inflammation in dogs and some other animals, except cats. It is known to be very effective against various ailments. White willow also helps in preventing blood clots. The dosage to be administered depends on the breed and the size of the dog. As the size increases, the dosage will increase. But while administering, one should be careful not to exceed the dosage, because there are a few side effects of white willow that occur, when more than the required amount is given to them. The time required for aspirin to take effect and white willow bark to take effect vary, as it takes longer than aspirin to take effect. But although aspirin is quick-acting, the effects of aspirin wear off equally fast. On the other hand, although white willow bark takes more time to have effect, the effect lasts much longer as compared to the effect of aspirin. In this case, the white willow bark is better for use in the long run.

The most important thing to remember is that white willow bark should not be administered in combination with other drugs. When given in combinations that are not suitable, this herb tends to aggravate the side effects that are caused by the other drugs. There are quite a few drugs that do not work well with this herb, and these combinations should be avoided at all costs, to ensure that your pet remains safe and does not suffer from unnecessary side effects. If your dog is currently on some medication, then let him finish that off, before you give him white willow bark. Or ask the vet if you can give it in combination with the current medication. There are also a few side effects, as mentioned earlier. One of the main side effects is ulcers in the stomach. Others include cramps, nausea, rash, gastrointestinal bleeding, and in extreme cases, it may do some damage to the kidneys.

So, the answer to the question is that white willow bark is safe for dogs, as long as it is given in the right quantity. And in case you are unsure about the right quantity, it would be advisable to consult the vet. They usually have ready packages, with the right amount of ingredients in the right proportions and ratios, that can be directly administered to your dog.