There’s a lot that can go wrong with your dog’s digestive health. Diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome … just to name a few.
And there are so many things that can cause it. Maybe he tried a new food or ate something he should have left alone. Maybe he has a stomach bug or exercised too much.
Whatever the cause … you want to help your dog feel better.
Luckily, there are lots of safe and easy options to help you manage your dog’s digestive health.
One useful herb that everyone should have on hand is slippery elm.
It’s a great solution for a wide range of digestive problems and other issues.
And it’s one of the safest herbs you can use.
So, today I want to talk about some of the common uses for this herb and how to give it to your dog.
Slippery Elm For Dogs
Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) also goes by the names red elm and sweet elm.
It’s a deciduous tree found in eastern North America. First Nations have used the inner bark for centuries as a remedy for digestive upset, coughs and more.
Here are some of its medicinal properties …
- Demulcent – Slippery elm secretes a gooey substance called mucilage. Mucilage creates a protective film to relieve mucous membrane irritation.
- Laxative – This herb acts as a mild laxative to help with bowel movements.
- Emollient – Slippery elm helps to soften and soothe skin.
- Astringent – It can dry and tighten skin cells and tissue.
- Nuritive – Slippery elm helps to nourish the body. It’s packed with nutrients like vitamins A, B complex, C, K, calcium, magnesium and sodium.
- Anti-inflammatory – Slippery elm helps to reduce redness, swelling and pain.
Slippery elm gets harvested in the spring and you can use it internally and topically. It has a sweet taste and is usually found in powder form.
I’ll talk more about the different ways you can buy slippery elm and how to give it to your dog a bit later.
But first let’s talk about how this herb can help ease your dog’s discomfort.
9 Ways Slippery Elm Can Help Your Dog
Slippery elm is helpful for acute cases of diarrhea. (Acute meaning short term, usually self-resolving illness … compared to chronic, long term ailments.)
It helps soothe the mucous membranes in the digestive tract and ease inflammation. The oily mucilage it produces helps lubricate the digestive tract and promotes mucous secretion.
Slippery elm’s astringent properties also tighten the lining of the digestive tract. This helps to further reduce inflammation.
It may seem strange that slippery elm can help both diarrhea and constipation. But like many fibrous plants, its main role is to regulate the digestive tract.
And that means it can help relieve and even prevent constipation too. That’s because of slippery elm’s soothing and laxative properties.
When your dog’s constipated, his muscles have to work extra hard. Slippery elm soothes and lubricates the mucous membranes in his digestive tract. This helps to relax the muscles.
This herb can also act as a gentle laxative when your dog has worms. And it can ease the irritation worms cause in his digestive tract.
3. Other Digestive Issues
The anti-inflammatory properties of slippery elm don’t just help diarrhea and constipation. They can also relieve intestinal inflammation that accompanies other digestive issues, including …
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
Some professionals recommend slippery elm bark for heartburn or acid reflux.
When stomach acids flow back into the esophagus it can cause a painful burning sensation. That’s because the acid is damaging the lining of your dog’s esophagus.
Slippery elm’s mucilage protects the esophagus from stomach acid to relieve heartburn.
Slippery elm can also protect the upper respiratory tract.
It lines the throat to ease discomfort from painful coughs. Like the kind associated with …
- Kennel cough
- Other respiratory infections
You may have even seen lozenges for humans with slippery elm as an ingredient. (But don’t give these lozenges to your dog because they may have other ingredients he shouldn’t have).
6. Transition From Kibble To Raw
If you want to switch to raw, it can take some time for your dog’s body to adjust. It’s important to go slow when you transition your dog. But even then … your dog may need extra support.
Slippery elm can soothe your dog’s gut and help make this transition easier on him.
7. Urinary Tract
Some believe that slippery elm can also help the bladder.
It’s most often recommended for unexplained inflammation in the bladder. In fact, bladder and urinary tract infections are often just inflammation, rather than bacteria.
8. Skin Healing
Slippery elm is an astringent that dries and tightens tissue. That makes it useful to help dry oozing wounds and stop bleeding to help wounds heal faster.
If your dog has a burn, boil or oozing skin infection, apply slippery elm to the affected area.
9. Swallowing Too Soon
Dogs are gulpers. Has your dog ever almost choked by swallowing something a bit too big to go down? Mine has … like a bone he should have chewed a few more times before swallowing!
If something like a bone gets stuck in his throat … or like my friend’s puppy, a spatula head … slippery elm gel or syrup can help it on its way through the digestive tract!
How To Give Slippery Elm To Your Dog
So you know how slippery elm can help.
Now let’s look at a few ways to give slippery elm to your dog. Here are some recommendations from holistic veterinarian Lisa Brienen.
But first, a few cautions …
- When you look for a slippery elm product, find one that’s sustainably harvested. Slippery elm is in danger of overharvesting.
- In rare cases, your dog may be allergic to slippery elm. Signs of allergies may include, hives, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting or itchiness.
- Don’t use it for pregnant dogs.
- Slippery elm can interfere with absorption because of the protective layer it forms. For this reason … it’s best to give slippery elm at least 3 hours away from other supplements.
Small dog … ¼ capsule twice daily
Medium dog … ½ capsule twice daily
Large dog … 1 capsule once or twice daily
Mix the contents of the capsule into food or some yogurt.
Dosage: Give¼ tsp of powder for every 10 lbs of body weight.
Mix the powder into food or some yogurt.
Stir the powder dose (above) into some warm water and let it sit to thicken. You can give this to your dog as-is. If he doesn’t want to eat it, you can syringe it into his mouth.
Mix 1 rounded teaspoon of slippery elm powder in 1 cup cold water. Bring to boil while you stir. Turn down heat, stir and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat, add 1 tbsp of honey and let it cool.
Under 25 lbs … 1 to 2 tbsp four times daily
25-50 lbs … 2 to 4 tbsp four times daily
50 lbs and over … ¼ to ½ cup four times daily
Mix equal parts slippery elm powder, FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) powder and L-Glutamine powder.
Small dog … 1 tsp twice daily
Medium dog … 2 tsp twice daily
Large dog … 3 tsp twice daily
Giant dog … 2 capsules daily
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that heals intestinal cells. If you wish to give your dog L-Glutamine alone, give 500 mg per 25 lbs of body weight per day.
For topical use, mix slippery elm powder with hot water to form a paste. Let it cool then spread it on a soft cotton cloth and place it over the affected area.
Alternatively, you can put the powder in cheesecloth or cotton. Tie off the fabric to make a sac and then soak in warm water. Gently press it on the wound until it cools.
Other Remedies For Digestive Issues
You can use slippery elm with other remedies. Here are some that work especially well for digestive issues.
Other Remedies For Wounds
If you’re using slippery elm externally to heal wounds, you can also try these solutions.
Whether used alone or with other herbs, slippery elm is a great remedy for digestive upset, cough and more.