Liver is a vital organ that helps in detoxifying the blood and removing all the free radicals and other impurities in a dog's body. Thus, the liver is also one of the vulnerable organs in dogs. It is prone to many liver diseases like liver failure. There are many treatment options available for liver diseases in dogs. Of these, many people opt for natural, alternative treatment methods. An effective treatment involves use of milk thistle. It is very helpful in promoting liver health in dogs.
Liver diseases affect the functioning of liver and leads to development of many symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Unexplained vomiting
- Soft gray stools
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of coat luster and listlessness
When liver diseases in dogs are left untreated, it leads to many complications. The toxins and poisons within the body start to build up and cause jaundice, convulsions, swollen abdomen, confusion and multi-organ failure in dogs. One can treat liver diseases in dogs, especially when identified early on. Also, liver has the ability to regenerate and therefore, the animal can live a healthy, fuller life after treatment.
What is Milk Thistle
It is known as a 'liver herb', or 'holy thistle'. The Latin name for the herb is Silybum marianum. For over 2000 years, man has used it for treating chronic liver ailments, and protecting the liver from harmful effects of toxins. It helps in improving the liver function. It is safe for treating liver disease in dogs. The seeds of the herb contain bioflavonoid called silymarin. This complex compound is made up of three parts, silybin, silidianin and silicristin. It helps in protecting the liver cells by blocking the harmful toxins from entering the liver cells. Silymarin is also found to be a powerful antioxidant and helps in regeneration of the hepatic cells.
Treating Liver Diseases
Milk thistle helps in treating a variety of liver ailments affecting dogs. The bioflavonoid silymarin helps in improving the resistance of the liver cells to harmful toxins. It also helps in cell reproduction and thus treating diseases such as chronic inflammatory liver diseases, liver tumors, leptospirosis, fatty liver, pancreatitis, etc. Dogs who are on chemotherapy, medications, vaccinations, heartworm medications, are also known to have benefited by its use. The antioxidant properties of silymarin helps in detoxifying the liver of dogs suffering from various diseases.
An important antioxidant in the hepatocytes is glutathione. Dogs with liver diseases require more of glutathione. Thus, use of milk thistle helps prevent depletion of glutathione from the dog's liver. This helps in improving the liver function and liver regeneration in dogs. Other benefits include:
- Prevention of liver damage due to effects of toxins
- Reduction of liver inflammation
- Stimulation of bile flow
- Protects the dog's liver after ill-effects or damage of strong medications for treatment of heartworm, tick, fleas and even chemotherapy
- It also helps in preventing liver damage and death of dog after ingestion of Amanita phalloides mushrooms
If used in high doses it may result in diarrhea. However, one should never give it to healthy dogs. Long-term use can affect liver function. This is a medicinal herb and should be used with discretion. Dogs with advanced liver diseases should be given 3 to 4 small doses. One can give the dog capsule, powder or liquid forms of the herbal medicine. Speak to the veterinarian for more details on the doses for dog with liver diseases.
There are very few side effects of milk thistle, but it should be used only for animals with liver diseases. One should consult a veterinarian before giving it to their dog suffering from liver ailments.