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Milk Thistle for Pets: A Natural Alternative for Supportive Care

Silybum marianum also commonly known as “milk thistle” has been a common, natural alternative for supportive care in the human body for thousands of years. So what about our pets? Can it be used for them as well?

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Milk thistle is a flowering herb in the ragweed/daisy family commonly found in the Mediterranean. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has been successful in helping treat and protect the liver. Newer studies have shown that it may also aid in treating heart disease and certain cancers.

Common Uses of Milk Thistle for Pets

In pets, milk thistle is commonly used for elevated liver values and bile duct disease caused by a variety of disease and or medications that can cause stressful damage to the liver. Utilizing this herb can aid as a protectant and it may help regenerate liver cells. The use of the herb has shown promising results in clinical use of veterinary practices.

Common liver diseases such as fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and bile duct disease benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects of milk thistle and may help your pet recover from the disease process faster or slow down the effects of the disease by reducing stress on the liver. Milk thistle can be used along with medications that can cause liver distress (such as fluoxetine or oral antifungal medications) by minimizing the side effects of the medications in use, especially if there is a concern for liver damage with some of the drugs. Be aware that your veterinarian will want to run periodic lab work to make sure the liver values of your pet are in the proper range.

Different Forms of Milk Thistle

There are several ways to take milk thistle. It can come in capsules of the dried herb, tinctures, liquid extracts and can be mixed with other liver friendly compounds to maximize the benefits of the herb.

When looking to try a natural herbal supplement for your pet, be sure to contact your veterinarian to be sure that the herb is safe to use along with any other medication your pet may be taking. Pets that have allergies to ragweed or flowering plants in the same family should avoid herbal supplementation without speaking to their veterinarian first.

Editor’s Note: Natural Wellness carries a variety of milk thistle products to fit your needs and budget! Learn more about pets and Maximum Milk Thistle.

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/milk-thistle (Cancer.org- Numerous references in article on website.  Retrieved 2/27/15)

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/milk-thistle-benefits-and-side-effects (WebMD- Milk Thistle. Retrieved 2/28/15)

http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/journal-scan-can-milk-thistle-be-used-treat-liver-disease?rel=canonical Can Milk Thistle Be Used to Treat Liver Disease by Jennifer Garcia DVM,DACVIM. Retrieved 2/28/15)

http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/Documents/pharmacy-fluoxetine.pdf Plumb Veterinary Drug Handbook pg. 69 on Fluoxetine. Retrieved 2/27/15)

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/milk-thistle University of Maryland. Milk Thistle. Retrieved 2/28/15

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