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Last modified on November 16th, 2022
Milk thistle for dogs is a common pet supplement. Silymarin, which is in milk thistle, can treat liver conditions in humans and animals. Milk thistle protects against liver toxins, stimulates the growth of new liver cells, and can activate protein synthesis. Milk thistle for dogs can help their liver more effectively filter toxins, and strengthen their immune system. It can also reverse liver damage from viruses, bacteria, toxins, drugs, and inflammation. We rank our picks for the best milk thistle for dogs.
- Milk thistle for dogs can protect against liver damage and toxins
- Humans can also take milk thistle for liver health
- Liver disease is common in certain breeds, including Labrador retrievers, dalmatians, and Great Danes
- Milk thistle has been used as a medicine for thousands of years
Top-Ranked Milk Thistle for Dogs
The following are our selections for the best milk thistle for dogs, including liquid milk thistle for dogs, capsules, and powders.
- Natural bacon flavor
- Liquid drops for ease-of-use
- Organic, ethically wild harvested
- Gentle enough for long-term use
- Specifically formulated for dogs
- Complies with the CVM’s good guidance practices for pet dietary supplements
- Can provide support when your dog is being treated with medicines like chemotherapy, NSAIDs, steroids, and antibiotics
- Formula helps remove waste from the blood
- Works to maintain normal levels of fluids and minerals
- The formula can also help promote kidney health and treat kidney disease
- Can be used by large and small breeds
- Contains DHA and EPA from fish oil
- Bite-sized chewable tablets similar to a treat
- Contains B vitamins
- Also includes dandelion, St. John’s Wort, and cordyceps
- Powder is easy to mix with dry or wet dog food
- Can be used for dogs and cats
- Detoxifies kidney and liver to prevent UTIs, liver failure, and diseases stemming from toxin buildup
- Includes anti-inflammatory ingredients
- According to reviews, this product can help reduce liver enzymes and white blood cells
- May help animals who are on steroids and can help conditions like hepatic lipidosis
- Chicken-flavored tablets
- Full-spectrum liver support with milk thistle, dandelion root, yellow dock, and coenzyme Q10
- Highly-rated Amazon product
- Promotes natural detoxification
- May improve energy levels in dogs of all sizes
- Made in the U.S.
- Third-party certified for potency and purity
- Supports liver health with natural plant extracts as well as antioxidants and vitamins
- Includes vitamin E and beta carotene, which are antioxidants
- Milk thistle and dandelion root promote liver and immune health
- Enhanced with N-acetylcysteine, which reduces liver oxidative stress
- According to reviews, even picky dogs enjoy the flavor
- Contains silybin milk thistle extract that’s better absorbed than standardized milk thistle extract
- Helps increase levels of glutathione, which is an antioxidant that may help detox the liver and repair and regenerate liver cells
- Enteric coated so they’ll travel directly to the small intestine for effective liver delivery
- According to reviews, this may help with chronic hepatitis
- Users say their dogs’ liver enzymes have gone down on this supplement
- Some customers feel it helped saved their dog’s lives with liver disease
What Are the Benefits of Milk Thistle for Dogs?
Whether you’re using capsules, tablets, or liquid milk thistle for dogs, there appear to be promising health benefits.
Milk thistle has been used for medicinal reasons for thousands of years, and it’s one of the few herbal remedies that conventional medicine tends to accept as very beneficial. Some of the reasons milk thistle is used for dogs and conditions it may help with include:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- To recover from parvovirus
Research shows that milk thistle may help not just prevent liver damage in dogs but repair it. It’s an antioxidant, first and foremost. Toxins increase the number of free radicals in your dog’s body, and our bodies for that matter. Free radicals can cause oxidation, which can lead to illnesses like cancer. Milk thistle protects the liver and your dog’s body from oxidative damage.
When our dogs take a lot of medicine for long periods, that can lead to a buildup of toxins. Milk thistle can help relieve some of this toxic burden and reduce medication-induced liver damage.
If your dog has a weak liver for any reason, they might have a histamine buildup and may experience allergies. Milk thistle might help this too. There’s evidence that allergies begin in the liver because the liver plays a role in removing histamine. A slow or malfunctioning liver will mean more histamine is left in the body.
With milk thistle for dogs, the silymarin it contains reaches bile and the liver. It can also help with hepatic lipidosis, chronic hepatitis, and cholangitis, which is inflammation of the bile ducts. Some people give their dog milk thistle to help treat gallstones because it thins bile. Milk thistle may also help dogs with inflammatory bowel disease.
If your dog has taken medications or vaccinations, milk thistle can help them heal.
Milk thistle for dogs can be used along with cancer treatment to speed healing and reduce side effects.
Some people use milk thistle for dogs to treat Cushing’s disease, diabetes, and pancreatitis. With Cushing’s disease, while milk thistle doesn’t treat the underlying disease, it can help protect your dog’s liver from damage that can occur because of high cortisol levels. In dogs with diabetes, a milk thistle supplement may help reduce their insulin needs a bit. For pancreatitis, milk thistle can protect the pancreas from inflammation and also help support smooth bile flow.
What to Know About Giving Your Dog Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is an over-the-counter supplement, but you should still speak to your veterinarian about how much to give your dog. You can find milk thistle for dogs in powder and tablet form. There’s also liquid milk thistle for dogs.
You can give your dog milk thistle a couple of times a day if your veterinarian okays it.
It’s best not to use milk thistle meant for humans and instead use milk thistle for dogs specifically. The products we highlighted above are all formulated for dogs.
Milk Thistle Dosage for Dogs
If you’re trying to figure out how much milk thistle for dogs, refer to the packaging instructions of the specific product you choose. You should base the milk thistle dosage for dogs on the product itself and the size of your dog. A good estimate for the milk thistle dosage for dogs is up to 100 mg for 10 pounds of body weight.
If you’re using liquid milk thistle for dogs, you can aim for ¼ tsp per 20 pounds of body weight daily.
If your dog has trouble eating, as is common with liver problems, you can add powdered milk thistle to baby food or pureed food and then give it to your dog in a syringe.
In human research studies, it’s been found more effective to take milk thistle in three or four smaller doses throughout the day rather than one big dose. You can consider doing this with your dog as well, although two doses may be sufficient.
When choosing milk thistle for your dog, aim for a product with at least 70 to 80% silymarin.
Are There Any Side Effects of Milk Thistle?
Typically milk thistle is considered safe for dogs. The biggest side effect that may occur is diarrhea. If your dog gets diarrhea from milk thistle, you should lower the dose, or perhaps go for a split dose.
Silymarin can be incredibly beneficial for dogs and pets with liver diseases, but it’s not necessarily a cure.
If your dog is on any medications, you should talk to your vet before giving him milk thistle. Milk thistle can interfere with the level of medicine in your dog’s body or make medicines less effective. Your vet can help you determine the best option.
Overall, milk thistle does have an excellent safety profile.
Milk Thistle for Dogs Frequently Asked Questions
Briefly below, we’ve covered some of the most common questions people tend to have about giving their dog a milk thistle supplement.
What Is Milk Thistle Used for In Dogs?
Milk thistle for dogs can help protect the liver against toxins, including heavy metals and drugs. Giving your dog milk thistle can help the liver replace damaged or dead cells. It’s also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Specifically, people give their dogs milk thistle to help with:
- Acute or chronic hepatitis
- Cushing’s disease
- Hepatic lipidosis
- Chronic hepatitis cholangitis
- Treating gallstones
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Healing from drug therapy, vaccinations, or infections
How Much Milk Thistle Should You Give a Dog?
Consult your vet before giving your dog milk thistle, and they’ll be able to help you settle on the proper dosage. With capsules, the recommended dosage might be around 75 to 100 mg for every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight. Some practitioners will recommend even higher doses.
Where Can I Buy Milk Thistle for Dogs?
You can buy milk thistle for dogs online. Amazon has products, and that’s where you can find the options we reviewed above. You can read customer reviews and more details about each product before making a buying decision. You can also ask your vet if they have a recommended retailer of milk thistle for dogs.
Summing Up—Milk Thistle for Dogs
Milk thistle is a valuable herbal supplement for humans and it may have similar benefits for dogs. Primarily used to help with liver diseases, milk thistle can also help with other conditions such as gallstones, kidney problems, and cancer. Talk to your vet before giving your dog milk thistle, although it is considered a safe supplement.