Olive Leaf: The Holistic Alternative To Antibiotics

Dog running around olive trees

How many times have you left your vet’s office with a package of potentially harmful antibiotics for your dog?

Chances are it’s happened more than once, especially since conventional veterinarians prescribe them for just about any illness your dog has.

Whether it’s …

  • kennel cough
  • wound or skin irritation
  • urinary tract infection

… most vets will turn to antibiotics to treat your dog. If they don’t know what’s wrong with your dog, they’ll even prescribe a round of antibiotics “just in case”.

That’s a really bad strategy for your dog’s overall health. Antibiotics are not harmless … they come with some long term side effects. What most people don’t realize is that antibiotics can seriously damage your dog … forever.

While antibiotics may knock out an infection, they’ll also do permanent harm to your dog’s gut health.

Along with the bad bacteria from the infection, antibiotics also kill the good bacteria that your dog needs to support his digestive health and immune system … and that damage is permanent. Even probiotics won’t repair it.

Martin Blaser of New York University’s Langone Medical Center states that antibiotics damage gut bacteria permanently…

 “Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover. These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people’s bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations.” 

When antibiotics damage your dog’s gut bacteria, they don’t just cause digestive issues. About 80% of your dog’s immune system is in his gut, so an unhealthy gut means a lowered ability to resist disease.

That should be cause for concern …

… and a perfect reason to use antibiotics only as a last resort.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid antibiotics by using safe, natural treatment options.

One of those options is a powerful medicinal herb called olive leaf. Olive leaf is a well known natural antibiotic … but it’s packed with many other medicinal uses as well.

Olive Leaf: Nature’s Antibiotic

Olive leaf, from the subtropical tree scientifically known as Olea europaea, is a potent antimicrobial with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Its main active ingredient, oleuropein, boosts the immune system and helps fight against pathogens, including yeast fungi.

Oleuropein makes up 6 to 9 per cent of the dry weight of olive leaves … but olive leaf has other compounds like secoiridoids, flavonoids and triterpenes with a wide range of medicinal properties that also play a role in the herb’s therapeutic powers.

Here are just a few of the things olive leaf can do.

Natural Antibiotic

Olive leaf has the ability to deactivate pathogenic bacteria, yeast and viruses without harming the healthy microbes in your dog’s gut and mucous membranes. Medical antibiotics wipe out both good and bad microorganisms, leading to a disastrous internal microbial environment. Olive leaf extract is a powerful antimicrobial but selectively targets pathogenic strains of bad bacteria without harming the good bacteria.

RELATED: Three Natural Antibiotics For Your Dog


Olive leaf’s broad killing power includes an ability to interfere with critical amino acid production for viruses. It can inactivate viruses and directly penetrate infected cells where it stops viral replication, preventing spreading.


Olive leaf  is rich in antioxidants that can help reduce free radical activity within the body. Free radicals are natural products of metabolism but need to be balanced with antioxidants, or they can harm the body at a cellular level. This is called oxidative stress and it can lead to cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants block free radical activity, helping the body in disease prevention.


Olive leaf is highly effective in treating many kinds of fungus. In addition to its antifungal properties, olive leaf has 400 percent more antioxidant power than vitamin C and 200 percent more than green tea, making it a strong ally against candida (yeast).

RELATED: When Treating Allergies Makes Your Dog Worse


Olive leaf also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Like oxidation, inflammation is a key factor in chronic and degenerative diseases. Animal studies additionally suggest that olive leaf extract may protect against nerve damage, and may be helpful in cases of stroke.

Olive leaf has flavonoids … phytonutrients that give plants their brilliant colors and have anti-inflammatory effects. This means olive leaf’s anti-inflammatory actions can help reduce arthritis symptoms and heart problems as well as chronic pain and cancer.


Olive leaf extract has been shown to be effective in treating various types of intestinal parasites, including giardia and most intestinal worms.

RELATED: Preventing And Treating Worms In Dogs


As a natural diuretic, olive leaf assists the body in getting rid of excess water and harmful toxins. As an added benefit, it improves digestion and prevents digestive tract infections and irritations.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Olive leaf’s primary active constituent, oleuropein, has been shown to lower blood sugar by slowing the digestion of starches and reducing the absorption of sugars from the intestine. If your dog is already taking diabetes drugs, consult your holistic vet before giving olive leaf as your dog may need his medication adjusted.

Common Medicinal Uses

Olive leaf can be effective for many canine health issues …

  • Kennel coughs, flu
  • Candida (yeast), yeast in ears or on skin
  • Intestinal and digestive issues and infections
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Oral or dental infections
  • As a natural and healthy laxative


Olive leaf has been shown to be a very safe herb. In a 1972 study, researchers Petkov and Manolov gave single intraperitoneal doses of oleuropein to mice ranging from 100 to 1000 mg/kg, but observed no toxic effects and no deaths during the 7-day post-treatment period.

Olive leaf can efficiently help the body improve the functions of its immune system and work against infections caused by different harmful microorganisms, without damaging healthy bacteria in the body.

How To Give It

Always buy certified organic olive leaf as there is a wide range of quality in herbal products. Olive leaf can be purchased in powdered or capsule form as well as tincture. I prefer powder or capsules. If you choose powder, it tastes a little like olive oil so your dog may quite like eating the powder sprinkled on his food.

One reputable source for your herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs, who has an olive leaf powder that’s certified organic, as well as organic capsules. Starwest Botanicals and Frontier Coop also carry organic olive leaf powders and leaves.

I usually don’t like tinctures for dogs because most are made with alcohol. But this product is made with glycerin so I recommend it. Follow the dosing directions on the label.

Caution: Olive leaf has very few side effects but can cause nausea in some dogs. Discontinue use if your dog experiences nausea, vomiting or digestive issues. Do not use in pregnant or nursing females. 

For general use as a supplement, in powdered form:

  • Small Dog            1/4 teaspoon daily
  • Medium Dog       1/2 teaspoon daily
  • Large Dog            1 teaspoon daily

You can also make a tea by steeping 1 tsp of dried leaves in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain and cool the tea and give a 50 lb dog up to one cup per day.

To treat candida (yeast) or other infections, give up to 500 mg twice per day in powdered or capsule form for a 50 lb dog. Adjust for your dog’s weight.

Caution: when using olive leaf against candida, your dog may experience yeast die-off effects known as the Herxheimer reaction.  This can cause an aggravation of your dog’s symptoms, so it’s best to start out very slowly and build up to the full dose. 

To eliminate intestinal parasites, canine herbalist Rita Hogan recommends using olive leaf extract containing at least 12% oleuropein. Give it for eight weeks, in the following amounts: 300 mg twice a day for small dogs, 500 mg twice a day for medium dogs and 1000 mg twice a day for large dogs.

This botanical medicine has one of the longest historical uses of any herb … and it has an excellent safety record so you can rest assured the medicine has been well vetted for use on your dog. It’s safer than giving your dog pharmaceutical antibiotics of any kind!

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