Milk thistle helps to support the liver while it is recovering from disease by stimulating cell production and increasing immunity. Whether practicing traditional or holistic dog care, veterinarians frequently use the herb milk thistle to treat certain liver diseases. They will also often recommend milk thistle for dogs who were recently on medication or who are recovering from parvovirus. The dosage of milk thistle for dogs generally ranges from 100 mg to 200 mg per 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of weight, though long term use is not recommended.
Milk thistle benefits dogs who are suffering from hepatitis, liver cancer, swamp fever, and an inflamed pancreas. It not only helps to protect the liver from toxins that could increase inflammation but also stimulates liver cell growth, helping to repair the damage that these diseases can cause. It can also be used to treat diabetes and help to bolster the immune system, which can be greatly beneficial to dogs suffering from cancer.
Veterinarians also prescribe milk thistle to dogs that have recently completed a medicine regime or undergone chemotherapy. It is also prescribed to dogs that have been recently dewormed, undergone treatment for heart worm, or received a vaccine. The milk thistle helps to detoxify the dog's body, assisting it to process the rest of the medication and return to its normal function. It also helps to repair any damage that the medication may have caused to the dog’s body during treatment, especially in the case of chemotherapy. For dogs that have contracted and recovered from parvovirus, milk thistle can help repair the cell damage caused by the disease.
The dosage of milk thistle for dogs depends not only on weight but also the illness. Dogs that have experienced severe liver damage may be typically prescribed 200 mg per 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of weight. When milk thistle is used for detoxification or recovery purposes, the most common dosage is generally 100 mg per 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of weight.
Milk thistle appears to be very safe for dogs. The only apparent side effects associated with taking this herb are upset stomach, mild diarrhea and excess gas. If these side effects occur, the dosage can be reduced and still provide the same outcome. While milk thistle benefits dogs in many ways, it is only meant to be consumed for a short period rather than as a daily supplement. Long term use of milk thistle for dogs that are otherwise healthy can suppress liver function, leading to health problems down the road.