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Top 5 Cleansing Herbs For Dogs

herbs for dogs

Toxins can build up in our dogs over time and this can threaten the function and health of important organs like the liver and kidneys. Here are five useful cleansing herbs that have been used for centuries to cleanse the body and restore good health.

Burdock is known for its ability to cleanse the skin and for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant effects. The root contains cleansing constituents which include a bitter, crystalline glucoside lappin, the the flavonol quercetin, fixed and volatile oils and tannic acid.

What does it treat?
Skin conditions, dandruff and acne all respond well to burdock.

How does it work?
The first method of action is on the excretory system. By stimulating the release of toxins from the body, it cleanses the blood of impurities and facilitates toxin elimination through the skin. The second method of action is directly on the skin. It acts specifically on the body’s largest organ to speed the healing of the skin.

How do I use it?
Burdock comes in many forms including capsules, dried herbs, liquid extracts, teas and tinctures. It is mainly taken internally, although if the skin is unbroken, a topical treatment may be applied by soaking a cloth in the tincture or tea.

Burdock may interact with medications for diabetes. Burdock should not be given to pregnant or nursing dogs.

Stinging nettles are hard to miss, especially if you’ve been stung by one. The leaves and stems contain active ingredients including formic acid and histamines.

What does it treat?
This herb has been used to treat arthritis and allergies.

How does it work?
Nettle has varying methods of action. The histamine in the plant works to decrease inflammation which can help arthritis and allergies.

How do I use it?
Nettle is widely available as tinctures, capsules, extracts and dried herbs.

Nettle should not be given to pregnant dogs. It may also interact with NSAIDs.

Psyllium is taken in the form of husks derived from the seed of this shrublike herb. Each plant may contain up to 15,000 gel-coated seeds, each encased in the husk where its cleansing ability is contained.

What does it treat?
The psyllium husk is taken internally and acts directly in the large intestine to absorb toxins. It can also relieve constipation and diarrhea.

How does it work?
When psyllium contacts water, it swells and sticks together to help move waste products through the intestines.

How do I use it?
Mix 1/4 to 1 tsp. psyllium seeds with a cup of water and mix with your dog’s food. Start with smaller doses and work your way up.

Psyllium interacts with many drugs and may be contraindicated for dogs with kidney disease.

Dandelion is widely available in most areas.

What does it treat?
Studies have shown that the root may improve liver, gallbladder and intestinal health.

How does it work?
This natural diuretic helps the kidneys excrete water and salt. Dandelion also contains potassium.

How do I use it?
Dandelion root can be used as a dried herb or tincture.

Because dandelion is a diuretic, it may interfere with some drugs.

Milk thistle seed contains the flavonoid silymarin.

What does it treat?
Slymarin is helpful for the repair of damaged liver cells and may offer protection for new liver cells.

How does it work?
This popular herb is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Silymarin helps to prevent liver cell damage by toxins and it also encourages liver cells to create more bile. This increase in bile aids in digestion and nutrient absorption.

How do I use it?
Milk thistle can be used as a dried herb or tincture.

This herb may interact with some drugs and hormone-related cancers. It should not be taken by pregnant or nursing dogs.

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  • 28 Responses to Top 5 Cleansing Herbs For Dogs

    1. beth

      I have two dogs that have seasonal allergies. One is worse than the other. They both take herbs for pain management. One takes turmeric and the other takes milk thistle. If I add stinging nettle or burdock to their regime will that cause any negative interactions with the turmeric or milk thistle?

      How long will it take for me to see an improvement in their health and how long do I keep them on the herbs. I was told that once the dog improves after 3 weeks on an herb, you want to taper them off. What do you think/suggest?

    2. Lindsay

      Anyone try hokamix?

    3. Petra Munro

      What about using the actual plants? I have burdock, nettles, dandelion growing in my neighbourhood. Can I make my own extracts?

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        You bet! Just make very certain they haven’t been sprayed!!!

      • Lisa

        Can we just use these items that we find at a health store?

        • Dogs Naturally Magazine

          You sure can! For the herbs, tinctures are typically best.

          • Janice Adler

            what would be the dosage for Burdock for an adult dog, 55lbs? capsule dosage? tincture dosage?

    4. mule

      I would like to know if there is anything in a herb that may help my 13 year old with horrible bad breath.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Bad breath is the result of periodontal disease or other chronic disease. Milk thistle will help to cleanse the liver but a deeper look with a homeopath would be a good idea too.

        • One of my dogs (beagle) has bad breath from coprophagy. (she occasionally eats poop)
          I’ve found that adding a teaspoon of fresh parsley to her food (real food, not the poop) helps quite a bit.

      • Sue

        I give both my dogs (Mastiff and Pyrenees) a Tablespoon of Human Grade Diatomaceous Earth every morning with breakfast. Both dogs have clean teeth and sweet breath. I take it as well and I also brush with it. Here’s some info if you’re interested in researching: http://www.earthworkshealth.com

        Good luck!

    5. Linda

      I have just purchased “Nettle” as my dog suffers from allergies. Cannot pinpoint what he is allergic to as he is on the raw diet. He has spent much of his life on predisone and I am tired and fed up with giving it to him. It is the only thing that works for him. When he is on the drugs, he is very comfortable, no itching, no infected ears etc. He has been off it now for three days and already his ear has flared up. I have decided to try this NETTLE, just wondering how much should I give him.
      His weight is 120 lbs.

      Thank you.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Allergies are autoimmune disease so feeding an herb won’t do much to help. Consulting with a good homeoapthic vet or a TCVM vet will. Visit theavh.org for a list of homeopathic vets and note that many of them to phone consults! If giving nettle, a couple of teaspoons of dried herb might be fine.

        • anon

          Hi, I’m confused as to why you state in the article that nettles are used to treat allergies, but you say here that herbs would be no good to treat allergies. Could you explain which is the truth please?? Thanks.

          • Dogs Naturally Magazine

            Where do we say that herbs aren’t of value for treating allergies?

            • Amber

              I am also confused as the response by Dogs Naturally Magazine on May 19th states “Allergies are autoimmune disease so feeding an herb won’t do much to help”, but the article mentions Nettle as good for allergies. Please explain.

            • Dogs Naturally Magazine

              Ah, you were referring to a comment. Herbs may help to settle allergy symptoms but they won’t do much to address the allergy itself. So while they may provide some relief for your pet, addressing the autoimmune disease that creates these symptoms is the best long term approach. A good homeopath will be able to help with this process. You can find a homeopathic vet here: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/the-academy-of-veterinary-homeopathy-directory/

      • Susan

        Also give your dog some yogurt for his ears. About one tablespoon everyday. I have a friend who’s dog has chronic ear infections and the vet told her to give her dog the yogurt everyday. I have started my dogs on yogurt, plus, it’s good for their gut because they are getting the good bacteria they need just like us people.

        • Dogs Naturally Magazine

          Dogs are lactose intolerant so yoghurt might not be a good idea. It’s also likely that their heavy gut acid will kill any beneficial bacteria before they can do any good. Kefir might be preferable but the best source of probiotics for dogs is raw, green tripe!

      • Leoni

        My 8 y.o. Lab is on a raw diet, he has suffered with infection in his ears all his life, I stopped ALL cereals…including dry dog food….bingo no more ear infections…..

      • Joanne OB

        Nettle helps remove histamine from the liver. Histamine causes the allergy symptoms. It’s a food grade herb, so start with a low dose, and work your way up to a human dose for a dog that big. I am a trainer Herbalist.

        BTW, you can harvest fresh nettle, but you will be stung, so wear gloves and either dry it or steam it to remove the acid in the leaves (and keep your face away from the top of the pot!).

        All the herbs mentioned in this article are “liver” herbs… the liver’s job is remove the excesses from our body. All good herbs!

    6. Some people are asking in what dose per lb of dogs is given for each of these cleansing herbals? Thank you

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Try a teaspoon per every 20 pounds

        • Marlene Ross

          I find the answer to how much of the herbal remedies to use to be rather irresponsible, misleading and incomplete. One teaspoon for every 20 lbs can’t be the answer across the board, either with different herbs or different forms of the herbs.
          I have recently joined up for the DNM Newsletter and now am having second thoughts about the information imparted. The information about herbs could be very helpful, but without specifics re. doses for specific forms, it is, seems to me, at best useless and at worst dangerous.

          • Marlene Ross

            What in heaven’s name does that mean?

          • Dogs Naturally Magazine

            Marlene, these are not drugs, these are herbs, food. The amount given doesn’t need to be as exact as with drugs where small misses can have a huge impact. If you are uncomfortable with our recommendations, then work with a registered herbalist or purchase products online and follow the instructions for use on the herbs you purchase. Dr Randy Kidd’s book on herbs suggests giving a pinch on their dinner – remember, this is food, not drugs so the approach is different.

    7. This is a great article! I’m already using a few of these for our dogs, going to have to look into the rest. Thanks for the great info!


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