Herbal Pet – The Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is an extremely helpful herb for pets. The scientific name for Milk Thistle is Silybum marianum. (You want to be sure the milk thistle supplement you select is labeled with this technical name.) The parts of the milk thistle plant that contain the therapeutic constituents are the fruit, shells, seeds, and leaves. (You want to be sure that the supplement you use contains these, and only these plant parts.)
Milk thistle is known to be hepatoprotective. That means that this amazing herb can protect the liver from toxic damage from medications and chemicals as well as damage from viruses and bacteria. A great use for milk thistle is to give it for a week after using medications such as flea/tick/heartworm medications. The herb can stop the damage such drugs may cause.
Milk thistle is also considered to be a cholagogue. A colagogue is a substance that helps the gallbladder contract and empty. Think of using this herb for the treatment of gallstone sludge that can sometimes gum up the gallbladder.
This incredible herb is also a galactagogue which means it can help a mother’s mammary glands release milk. Milk thistle is known to be an antioxidant as well. Thus, it can protect the body from dangerous oxidative free radicals which can build up in an animal’s system from normal wear and tear on the body as well as physical or emotional stress.
Milk thistle has been shown to increase liver glutathione. Glutathione is a liver enzyme which is involved in ridding the body of toxins. Think of milk thistle when your pet needs to detox from exposure to any kind of poison, pollutant, or contaminant. It can also be used a few days after chemotherapy treatments to decrease dangerous side effects. Since milk thistle affects how the liver deals with drugs, it should not be used at the same time as some drugs as it may expel the medicine before it has its desired effect.
In rats, milk thistle has been shown to improve damage to the pancreas so it may help those pets with pancreatitis. It reduces oxidative damage to kidney cells so it may be helpful for pets experiencing kidney problems. Milk thistle has even been shown to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth.
Even with all of these wonder beneficial effects of milk thistle, it is extremely safe. There are no reported side effects of taking it. (Have you ever seen that statement on a prescription insert?) General dosing information can be found in my earlier Herbal Pet post.
Silymarin is assumed to be the active ingredient in milk thistle. In fact, the drug Denamarin contains a chemically altered form of silimarin as well as other ingredients.
Denamarin represents the current tendency toward the pharmaceuticalization of herbal and nutritional supplements. You see, there is no money in herbs for pharmaceutical companies because you cannot patent a truly natural substance. But, if you mess with nature by extracting the “active ingredient” and modify it slightly, now you can get rich off it. (As if we can improve on Mother Nature.)
In fact, there are many compounds within the milk thistle plant that work together to benefit the body. I have had cases of liver disease in dogs that did not improve after months on Denamarin but did improve when switched to milk thistle. The active ingredient in an herb is the herb.
What have your experiences been like when using milk thistle in your pet?
Me how much to give my animals. They are 9lbs. Thank you
I gave a link in the post to an earlier post that has that info. Here it is – https://drdougknueven.wpengine.com/?p=339
Hope this helps.
My dog no longers leaks urine after using this for a few months. She leaked for 5 years. Medication didn’t help. I was using homeopathic drops which did help but I ran out and noticed she didn’t start leaking again. I also use this in the spring when her allergies are really bad and after surgery.
Would milk thistle counteract the effects of metacam? Our boy needs the metacam for his hip dysplasia.
Should be OK with Metacam. You should talk to your vet before adding to your dog’s treatment. Acupuncture works well for hip dysplasia and no side effects. Find an acupuncture vet near you at http://www.ahvma.org.
Our 15 year old poodle mix has had an elevated ALT the last 4 blood tests we’ve run (every 6 months). It was not “clinically high”, but was climbing higher each time. We put her on Super Integrative Milk Thistle with Dandelion and the last blood work showed it had dropped 11 points and is now only 11 points above normal!! Very happy.
Wait, what???? My cat is on Denamarin. Would I be better off replacing that with Milk Thistle then? He’s a senior (15+) FIV+ boy. Could the two be used together? He’s been on the Denamarin (along with weekly B12 injections) for 20 days, and is due for blood work again in another 10 days.
If I should make a change, I’ll be at the health food store the moment it opens in the morning!!!
Please do not change your cat’s medication without talking to your vet. It is possible that Milk Thistle could work better. Why not wait for the blood test results? If things are not going as hoped then ask about making a change.
I would like to start my 16 year old Siamese on milk thistle. He has chronic renal failure, how does the milk thistle help?
Thank you for this very valuable information about milk thistle. My question is not related to the subject on your post but I am hoping you may be able to answer it. Is a herb called heal all safe for dogs? Thank you. God Bless
I am not familiar with that herb.
When giving monthly Heartworm medication (ivermectin) do you start the 7 days of milk thistle on the same day? Thank you!
Start 3 days before giving the heartworm medicine and give for 7 days.
My 5 month old pup is very sick from trifexis. I started him on 1/4 teas daily within 8 hours of his administration of trifexis. How long will it take to help him detox? Can it be taken with anti nausea meds?
Without seeing your pet and not knowing exactly what you mean by “sick” it is difficult to give you much guidance. It should be fine to give Milk Thistle with anti-nausea meds and I would suggest giving it for 2-4 weeks.
My dog is 15 years old and is dealing with distemper. She is recovering from her respiratory illness and I think is surviving the distemper virus, thanks to our vet and the treatment being given. We’ve recently noticed that her liver seems to be enlarged, will milk thistle help solve this? Thank you.
Milk thistle should be very helpful for your dog. All the best.
How long do I wait to feed him after giving him the milk thistle drops?
Thank you for you thoughts and advice on using Milk Thistle. I was researching using it before giving Ivermectin, but I saw a post from some one who gave it to their dog who leaked urine and it solved the problem. Could it be given to a 6 mon. old puppy diagnosed with Diabetes Insipid-us?? The owner put her on meds, but I’m wondering if she could solve the problem naturally. Thanks for your comments!
I’m not familiar with using Milk Thistle for this condition. I doubt that it would help.
My 11.7 year old English bulldog has elevated ALT (161/ul) and ALKP (1287/ul) and PLT (653 k/ul). The vet put her on Clavamox for 10 days and that did nothing. I have been giving her milk thistle, alcohol free liquid form, for 11 days. She is still not eating without being force fed (and at best, 1/4 cup of home cooked turkey/oatmeal or yogurt or cottage cheese but mostly a tablespoon here and there) and throws up bile every other day or so. How long can I expect for this to start working? Does Milk Thistle work fairly quickly? Or should I seek out a specialist? The vet that I chose has not been very helpful. Thank you.
Elevated liver enzymes do not tell you what the liver problem is. You need to have an abdominal ultrasound done. How hast the milk thistle works depends on what the problem is.
My dog has elevated liver enzymes due to long term use of pain meds, she is 12 years old. My vet recommended Denamarin but it is pricey and after doing some research she agreed that trying Milk thistle would be a good idea. In my research I came across an article that stated you should only give it for 5 days then take 2 days off, do this for 3 weeks and then take an entire week off. What are your thoughts on this?
There are lots of ideas about how to give herbs. I do not use that protocol and don’t understand the reasoning behind it. I’ve had pet on Milk Thistle for months at a time with no breaks.
Thank you for the response. The information stated that giving milk thistle for long periods of time can suppress the liver function. Have you ever heard of this? I just wanted to double check this information.
I’m not aware of this concern.
my 8 yr old golden has had elevated liver enzymes for 2yrs- 98 then 227
And now after blood work, ultrasound and 30 days of metrazole and Cipro
The alt was 638
I have started with filtered water, weaning her off of blue buffalo wild chicken,
Supplementing with puréed celery and zucchini as well as puréed fruits
And harvest coconut water
The vet thinks she should be on Denamarin by Nutramax
I had her on milk thistle while on the antibiotics
I am torn as to how to proceed
She is eating now, drinking, playing, has more energy- since going off antibiotics
To look at her she does not appear to be in poor health
The vet feels as a next step a liver biopsy is in order
I have been to a veterinarian teaching hospital and no diagnosis could be made
I would appreciate any input
Sometimes a diagnosis cannot be made without a biopsy of the liver. It appears that the milk thistle supplement that you used did not help. It is hard to know what to advise without knowing exactly what the problem is. Although it is hard to justify doing a liver biopsy on an animal that appears to be healthy, it is better than waiting until she is sick. Maybe give supplements a little longer and recheck the liver tests. If they continue to rise then the biopsy seems warranted.
My Smokey (canine) is on the chemotherapy drug lomustine which is very hard on the liver. I have been giving him Denamarin, but wonder if “real” milk thistle would be better as the Denamarin doesn’t seem to be keeping his liver values down. He weighs approximately 58 pounds and has histiocytic sarcoma which is a very aggressive cancer. The lomustine has really made a difference in his quality of life, but I don’t want to do so much damage to his liver. This chemo is supposedly his best chance. Do you feel milk thistle would be a better choice, and if so, what would be the best brand and correct dosage (daily amount?)? The chemo is in pill form every 3 -4 weeks (skipped last one due to liver values which have come down, but are still too high). Thank you so much. I really want the best for my boy ( 3rd dog with cancer in 2 and a half years…). Thank you again for any information you can give me.
I have had cases where milk thistle seemed to do a better job of helping the liver than Denamarin. I use “Milk Thistle 80” made by Health Concerns and would give a 58 lb dog 1 tab twice daily.
Thank you SO much! I will do that.
How much should I give my 11.5 pound dog with elevated liver enzymes?
Is it safe to give my dog white willow bark for pain management, while she is taking milk thistle?
After doing some more blood work, my vet is thinking my dog has cushings disease. Are there any holistic medications you recommend for this?
Chinese herbs can be helpful. Prescribing them requires a holistic exam. If you do not live near me you can find a holistic vet at http://www.ahvma.org.
white willow bark is similar to aspirin so you should check with your vet first. It may be fine but if your dog has had surgery or has other blood issues, this could be dangerous as it would thin the blood and possibly cause bleeding issues.
Hi Dr Doug,
Would you recommend the same course – starting 3 days before giving flea and tick medications and continuing for 7 days after – as you do for heartworm medications?
Yes, That’s a great idea.
Thanks! I love your site.
Hello Dr . Doug ,
my dog 4 yrs old Maltese has MVD of the liver i started giving her liquid hepato support 1 week ago , how long until u see results ?
I’m not familiar with that supplement. You question is a great one for whoever you got the supplement from.
Hello Dr. Doug, (apologies for the long comment)
I have a unique case with one of my dogs. He has an auto-immune disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) where he lost a digit Nov 2013. prior to knowing it was an immune disease we were treating the arthritis with Rymadyl (& Rovera-generic). That wound up killing the liver. Last April 17th, I had an emergency where he developed an enlarged heart with fluid in the pericardial sac and a faulty mitral valve. We’ve been back and forth to have the sac drained a bunch of times. He was put on Enalipril 10mg and Vetmedin which he is still taking. After treating the immune with prednisone for months we had issues with the liver last September where we were at life and death levels along with pancreatitis and sludge in the gallbladder. We had to take him off with a quick reduction of mg with pulsing every other day. We put him on natural herbs from Natural Solutions (Dr Wen) which my vet orders for me along with Zentonil. That seemed to help with the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder however when we try reducing the prednisone over time it seems that the heart needs at least 2.5mg to regulate itself and not build up fluid. My bud is a 10yr old 48lb Bull Terrier (white) so that dosage is very low. He’s been on the hills low fat I/d since October 1st. We’ve been sticking to the program with no other food or treats other than the canned low fat I/d and dry I/d. He’s come down with pancreatitis two times since September last year. As mentioned we would reduce the prednisone each time however I would be back at the ER to have fluid removed. Here we are again with the pancreatitis and liver enzymes elevated and bilirubin at 2.9 as of Saturday. After his bout at midnight Friday throwing up I immediately gave him a cerenia. He’s bee getting one a day since then and wants to eat everything still which is good but I was wondering if Denamarin would be the best for the liver and pancreas. I personally don’t think the denamarin works well for him. Best experience was Zentonil but there has been a mfg backordered for months. I bought online over the weekend Denstra. Which only has the one S-Ame ingredient as Zentonil.
Would you happen to know if there is an wholistic approach to treating the liver other than the S-Ame? I cannot begin to tell you how many drugs I’ve bought over the course of 2 years to give for three days then have to stop as direction from the vet. I’ve spent about 50k on him since sept of 2013. I have another dog that has put me in a position to spend numerous amount of money since sept 2013 as well with two torn ACLs and mast cell tumors. I have another vet appointment later today for both my boy with the immune/ heart/ liver/ pancreas issues and my girl 9 yr old pit mix rescue with the mast cell tumor that grew overnight and threw up and is not eating. I have my hands full. Just looking to see if you have any other ideas do my boy and what I can do before the $$ well runs dry as it has taken a toll on my pocket… And stress.
Thanking you in advance.
Joe, This is not a case that can be managed over the internet. I recommend you find a holistic vet near you and have a complete holistic workup. You can find a holistic vet at http://www.ahvma.org
My 13.5 yr old dalmation has had high liver levels for years. He is currently on Denamarin for large dog, no drop in levels.. My question is can milk thistle be given with Denamarin?
It would be better to replace the Denamarin with milk thistle.
My dog is allergic to milk thistle is there anything else that I could give her to detox. Last blood test before acl knee surgery vet said liver enyzenes elevated.
I have never heard of an allergy to Milk Thistle. Are you sure it wasn’t something else in the formulation you used? I would use Turmeric to substitute.
Hello, My 12 year old boxer has mast cell cancer. He has had it for over 4 years now, and am thanking to God for each day he is still with us. He was only given 6 months when diagnosed. I did a lot of research and started making his food and giving him probiotics, k9immunity plus, benadryl and turmic.
He has been doing so good and now suddenly develops diarrhea that is a orange yellow color. Sorry to be so descriptive!! Everything I have read points to liver issues. My question is; can I give him Milk Thistle for his current condition. Any suggestions are great appreciated.
Rather than guessing what the problem is it is best to go to a vet and have testing to find out what is going on.
Hi Dr Doug. My dig is epileptic and has been on Epihen for 5 years. His liver was struggling and vet wanted to change medication. He waz very reluctant as Dougal can go for 5 to 18 months between seizures. I read about milk thistle and asked if I could try it. I used it for 2 months along with a liver cleansing diet and his reading dropped from 846 to 224. As my vet had’t heard of milk thistle before he us happy to leave Dougal in epiphen and for me to continue with diet and milk thistle. Do you think this plan of action ok?
It sounds like your plan has worked well so far. There should be no problem continuing milk thistle long term.
Hi Doug. Thank you for your article. Our dog was attacked at the weekend and has 2 puncture wounds. Our vet prescribed him antibiotics for 2 weeks, and carprieve pain relief/anti inflammatory. Our little boy is 2 and a half (border terrier) and has very bad food allergies & weak gut, so really don’t like giving him chemicals at the best of times. Thought milk thistle might help? Would you recommend it’s use in this case? And would you advise using it at the same time as the drugs above, or waiting until he’s finished them? Thank you so much in advance! Alice
Yes, milk thistle would be good to use to detox your dog from the drugs and it is safe to use while he is on them. I would continue the milk thistle for 2-3 weeks after he’s off the drugs.
Hello Dr Doug,
My 7kg n 7yr old mini poodle have had 21 teeth extracted and is on a 9days dose of antibiotics Juroclav(Amoxcillin n Clavulanic acid) and I see increased yeast on her paws n front elbow…ya..more licking.Pain wise she was given petcam for 3days.
Can i give her a combination of milk thistle and tumeric?
i found this human milk thistle supplement..150mg/per vege cap.
Milk Thistle Extract (Silybum marianum) (Standardized to 80% Silymarin Flavonoids) (Fruit and Seeds) 300 mg †
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) (Rhizome) 700 mg †
can this push out the un needed toxins from the meds? if yes..how and how much should i give?
You can give a combination of milk thistle and turmeric. I would dose using Clark’s Rule (pet’s wt in kg / 70 = proportion of the human dose to give a dog)
hello Dr Doug
My dog has been prescribed Denamarin to support his liver following Chemo but he is not happy about taking tablets even chewables. Should I consider milk thistle as an alternative or in addition to the Denamarin?
I would recommend using the milk thistle as an alternative to the Denamarin – but you still have to get it in… I guess you could try a tincture.
Hi, our dog is 12 years old and has been in and out of the vet since September 2016. We have finally concluded that he has liver disease. We have tried multiple medications from the vet, and they only seem to help for a short time and then he looks miserable again. We plan to start milk thistle and SAME tomorrow. Do you think it would be best to not give him his heartworm medication until we can get him feeling better?
It depends on where you live. If it is winter where you are then you should not have to worry about heartworm disease at this time.
Hi Doug, my dog Yumi has lymphoma with a primary tumor on her liver. She just went through CHOP but unfortunately her cancer has been back and forth throughout the protocol. We are going to try CCNU today. We have avoided giving her drugs that are harder on her liver but we are running out of options. I have not given her milk thistle through this but wonder if ok to do so during the CCNU treatment. I don’t want to give it to her at a time during treatment that could impact the efficacy. Do you know when would be the safest time to give her milk thistle during treatment? She is going to get this drug every 3 weeks. Also, do you recommend Sam-e at the same time? Thanks
Hi My dog is 8 and has been on clavalox antbiotics for 8 days for gum inflamation two more days to go when would it be safe to give milk thistle. Will the milk thistle help or r there contras with clavalox and milk thistle
You can give the milk thistle any time, even with the antibiotics. More important now is to give probiotics to balance the gut microbiome.
How much milk thistle 80 should I give my 8 lb. 17-year-old cat?
hi Dr Doug,
I have just found your site and this info on milk thistle which is what I was looking for.
you mention not to give milk thistle at the same time as a drug as it could expel it before it has its time to do what it needs to do. so for example HOW LONG AFTER should I give milk thistle after my dogs monthly heartworm medication? A day or two or a week? etc…
thanks dr doug, just saw one of your messages so its best to wait 3 days after Ivermectin. which I will do. another question my golden retriever has a sensitive stomach he is on probiotics and awaiting food allergies tests, very prone to diarrhea at the moment. When introducing him to milk thistle should I do so at a reduced rate as compared in your first article? if so how much would be a good reduced rate to introduce?
I would start with 1/2 the dose for a week than full dose.
Hello dr doug,
My almost 7yr old 8kg Pom-chi ate rat poison at 6mths of age, and then at 5.5yrs had tick poisoning. Both times he was treated by the vet. Since the tick poisoning he has a tennis ball size lump at the side of his body. The vet did needle biopsy last month and said it was a fatty lump. I am still worried as he seems to have lost weight and his harness is very loss, even though the total weight is not much different to before probably from the weight of the lump. I feel he needs liver detox since he suffered 2 bad poisoning and subsequent treatment with medication in his life. I like to try to use milk thistle. Can I use human milk thistle tablets and turmeric powder in his food? I took them after my own recent knee surgery. And if So what is the best best way to feed him these two herb? Thanks in advance.
Yes, you can use human supplements of those herbs. The best way to feed it to him is whatever way he will take them.
I have just started this product two months ago with my dog and the vet is astonished with his improvements. Prior to starting this product his liver functions were elevated, he developed pancreatitis and we have been fighting high creatinine levels for years. I finally took him off the prescriptions diets and started milk thistle, now with the recommended dose twice a day my dog’s lab work looks great. His liver function is back to normal, no signs of pancreatitis and his creatinine is even coming down. Which I have read in other articles that milk thistle can do. My vet is like do not change a thing its working. I am so thankful I found this product and my dog loves it on his food.
My Great Dane recently tested positive for heartworm, despite being on a monthly preventative her entire life. She is on doxycycline now to eradicate the wolbachia and will start immiticide in a month or two. I would like to start giving her milk thistle to help her as her body works to break down the adult worms, but I don’t want to interfere with any of her medications. What would you recommend that I do? And if you do suggest beginning milk thistle supplements, should I start right away?
It would be best for you to consult with a local holistic vet. You can find one with the vet finder at http://www.ahvma.org
I purchased organic milk thistle seeds and don’t know how to use as a detox regime for my 12 year old Chihuahua, who is currently on Denamarin.
Could I continue to use the Denamarin and milk thistle? And should I make a tea or ground the seeds to a powder?
Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I have no idea what to do with milk thistle seeds.
My pup was spayed recently and so I was giving milk thistle to rid her of the toxins given during surgery. However, they sent her home with pain meds, rimadyl and gabapentin for 10 days and after reading your comments I will stop until she is finished her meds. When would you recommend giving her the milk thistle again and for how long?
I would give it as soon as you’re done with the meds and for 4 weeks.
Hi Dr 🙂
Thanks for writting the article. Need your advise an dosage. Im from Malaysia. Its very hard for us to get pet aporoved/ good quality milk thistle. I bought twin pack of BIO LIFE Milk Thistle & Dandelion. One tablet contains 3000mg milk thistle & 300mg dandelion. I know it sounds too much
My beagle just had her yearly vaccination today. She is 6 years old. Weighing 33 pounds. She is super obsese i know. Not spayed. Has a very small fatty tissue on her spleen.
I would like to start her on a detox plan with milk thistle. From BIO LIFE Milk Thistle, how much should i feed her ? Or should i be getting her some smaller dosage tablet ?
Currently i am feeding her with coconut oil, flaxseed, chia seed and turmeric too.
Give your dog 1/5 the human dose.
My 6 y/o lab mix was diagnosed with diabetes about 6 months ago. She now has an elevated ALT (722). My vet started her on 425mg of Denosyl to try to help with the liver function. She is not tolerating it well. At the full dose, she was lethargic and would eat very little, so the dose was cut to 1/4 tablet for 5 days then increasing by 1/4 tablet every 5 days until she could take a full tablet. After 2 days of increasing to 1/2 tablet, I had to drop back down to 1/4 tablet because she was losing her appetite and not eating well. Her blood sugars are also higher since taking the Denosyl. Would milk thistle be something to try?
It’s worth a try.
Hi Dr. Doug,
Thanks so much for all the great info- I am so glad to have found this post! My dog (70 lb, 12 YO, otherwise mostly healthy and energetic lab) is having CCNU treatments for a mast cell tumor that had spread to a lymph node. Both were removed prior to chemo and she just received her 3rd CCNU dose yesterday. One liver value has been slowly increasing but still is only mildly elevated and has not prevented treatment. She has had no other chemo-related symptoms so far, however our vet did just also start her on Rimadyl due to arthritis symptoms in her hips. I am wondering if I can give her milk thistle to try to keep the liver values low even though she is going to start taking rimadyl (50 mg 2x/day)? If so, how long after her chemo would be an appropriate time to give the milk thistle, and how much would you recommend? Many thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
You can give milk thistle with Rimadyl. Do not give it the day before, the day of and the day after chemo. Give 1/2 the human dose.
Thank you Dr. Doug- much appreciated. Thanks for providing this excellent resource!
I have a six year old bichone frise who has recently developed a weight problem. As a result the vet did blood tests, mostly to check thyroid. Some levels for pancreas and liver came back elevated. So, I was sold a 15 liquid dose of milk thistle for $11.50, and told she would be on it twice a day for the remainder of her life. Not only does the cost seem extreme, so does the length of the treatment. Can I go to the local store and purchase liquid milk thistle? Is it likely this is going to be a life long treatment?
Any good brand of milk thistle is fine (it does not have to be liquid). Since we do not know what is causing the liver levels to be elevated we cannot say how long treatment might be needed.
My 2 year old foster just had a lump removed and it came back as grade 2 mast cell tumor. My friend who raises mush dogs swears by milk thistle and thought I would look into it. Would you think it is beneficial and, if so, what dosage is safe. She is 65 lbs. I am assuming the human version of capsules will be okay so long as the ingredients meet the requirements. Thank you.
I love milk thistle for a lot of things but it is not my herb of choice for mast cell tumors. I recommend having her seen by a holistic vet. You can find one near you at http://www.ahvma.org.
My 12 year old dog has been panting licking sleeping a lot as well as pawing at his nose. The lab results showed his alp at 2262. All other liver enzymes were normal except his ggt which was slightly higher. All other labs were normal. The vet suspected Cushings do I ordered milk thistle and gave him his first dose tonight. Just wondering what I can expect, if this will help him, and when I should have his labs checked again. The vet didn’t give me much hope. I just don’t want him to hurt.
If the problem is Cushing’s Disease then milk thistle will not help. Your best bet is to find a local holistic vet. Check out the vet finder at http://www.ahvma.org.
My vet suspects that my dog might have cushing’s and is still running tests. What would be a holistic medication for this? And, can you explain in understandable terms what cushing’s is?
The holistic medication for your pet should be determined by a holistic vet after a holistic exam. Cushing’s Disease is a condition where there is an over-secretion of cortisol by the adrenals due to either a tumor in the pituitary gland or a tumor in the adrenal gland which may be either benign or malignant.
My Pomeranian is on Denamarin can he also take Milk Thistle too
I would suggest doing one or the other but not both.
My 11or 12 year old border collie lab has arthritis that we are treating with 75 mg of carproven/rimadyl and gabapentin, also takes a small dose of thyroid. I would like to give her milk thistle to protect the liver but want to know if there are any drug interactions before I do. Please Advise
I’m not aware of any interactions with these drugs.
Can milk thistle be given as a liquid? Our 8 year old cockapoo has been prescribed denamarin and we have th shove the tablet down the back of her throats which she is finding really distressing ??
Yes, milk thistle comes in the form of tinctures.
Hi…..we have a dog that resists all medication in pill or tablet form. We use a liquid bacon flavored milk thistle we get from http://www.petwellbeing.com and she doesn’t mind it at all.
I’m not familiar with that product but if it works for you, go for it.
My pup takes phenobarbital, keppra, gabapentin, and potassium bromide. How many hours apart should milk thistle be given?
I would not suggest giving milk thistle in that situation.
My cat on Metronidazole possible parasite /poisoning or both he still has loose stools ( after previously vomiting) and its not really working Vet mentioned enlarged lymphnode during exam this is concerning and dont want him to develope cancer can i give Milk Thistle while giving Metronidazole? to protect his liver and lymph Thanx
It sounds like your cat needs to see a holistic vet. You can find one near you at http://www.ahvma.org.
My 8 year old westie yorkie mix is on 250 mg of keppra, taken 3 times a day (considered low dose) and 10 mg of omeprazole once a day to protect his stomach. He had radiation for tumor in his brain 2 1/2 years ago, and has been great since. A few weeks ago against my better judgement, we used 1 dose of frontline plus on him as a last resort for clearing fleas we couldn’t seem to get rid of. (His neurologist ok’d it) He was digging his skin raw and nothing else seemed to work. After a day or so, he has been extremely scared and trembling, noises bother him and he wants to hide. Now he has developed some twitching and woozy walking. I would like to detox his liver in hopes of clearing it out of his system. Going to his neurologist is useless as he will only say “frontline wouldn’t cause that” The neurologist even ok’d our dog to start on all vaccines and heart guard pills etc after radiation, which we have not, and will not do! I fear that they would want to jump the gun on radiation again. talked with a holistic vet and she suggested the denamarin to be used and that it would be ok with his current meds. I’d like to know what your opinion would be on using the denamaron compared to milk thistle, and how much/how often to use. We monitor our dog very closely and this did not start until after frontline plus, I’m very sure this caused these issues. Any info is appreciated
Your best bet is to stick to the advice of your local holistic vet.
Ok thank you
Thanks for the information on milk thistle. Our dog is taking heart medications, and a low dose of prednisone. He has lymphoma, pancreatitis, and his heart was slightly enlarged. We’ve been giving him milk thistle, because he’s taking prescription drugs, but after reading that it may expel some of what he’s taking, maybe it’s not a good idea to be giving it to him ? What do you suggest ? Thanks !
With all you have going on with your dog it would be best to have your dog seen by a local holistic vet. You can find one at http://www.ahvma.org.
We have a new cat who adopted us last winter, and seems worse off since we took him in our home! He has itchy skin that he licks and bites until the fur is gone. He has been through so much in the last six months: got him neutered and vaccinated, and he had fleas and worms so the vet prescribed all the usual stuff. For the itchy skin, the vet used long acting steroid shots that hardly worked. I suspect his poor body is toxic from all of this. I’m switching him to a raw diet (freeze-dried raw food from Stella and Chewies) and I want to give him an over all detox product. Is milk thistle the best for this do you think? Thank you for your website!
Yes, milk thistle is great for detox. I really recommend finding a local holistic vet. You can find one at http://www.ahvma.org
Can I give milk thistle for humans to my dog with possible kidney failure? Milk thistle for dogs is very rare possibly even not available here in the Philippines. Please advise me. Much appreciated. Thanks.
Yes, it is all the same herb. Divide your dog’s body weight in pounds by 150 to get the fraction of the human dose to give.
My 12-1/2 yr old lab was just diagnosed with high liver enzymes (ALT 1100). She is now taking Denamarin. Can I also give her milk thistle? (burdock root, dandelion?) I’ve read that all of these are good for dogs with liver issues. She’s also been put on two diff antibiotics. One for two weeks, the other for four.
Lydia in Texas
I prefer milk thistle over Denamarin. Giving both at the same time is kind of double-dosing. The real thing you need to do is find out what is causing the elevated enzymes and treat that.
Hi Dr. Doug…I, too, am giving my dog Denamarin, but the amount of milk thistle in it is small so I thought I’d add milk thistle tincture – do you still think it’s double dosing with only 35 mg of silimarin in it? My dog has highly elevated ALT and we did an ultrasound and his liver is small and dense. He wasn’t eating until they gave us the Denamarin and a taurine liquid; they also gave us an appetite stimulant (mirtazapine) but today is the last dose of that. I have an appointment with a holistic vet but she is very booked up and I can’t get in until August.
I think it would be difficult to overdose milk thistle but all the same I would do one or the other. You might try switching from the Denamarin to milk thistle.
My Red nosed Staff has swollen belly for 3rd week now. 2nd week we took him to the vet and all bloodwork/fecal exam came back clean and no issue was found. The doc gave an ultrasound and said that his stomach was not bloat, or anything but fluid. Possible liver issue since it came about all of a sudden. He is on a water pill but only thing, his urine is not as dark. measuring with a shoestring, it has stayed around the same size and only have about an inch difference in a week. Now the doctor put him on an antibiotic for the liver and more water pills every 12 hours. He drinks, have bowels, tail still wags but the swelling is making is difficult for him to breathe. Should I start the Milk Thistle and not give him the antibiotic
I would need to examine your dog and see all the test results before i could offer any help. You might be able to find a holistic vet near you at http://www.ahvma.org
Hi Dr. Doug,
I’m really enjoying your very informative website.
My problem is I have a 10 year old GS mix who has been very healthy except for some allergies and sores on her belly from licking which I have treated with Benedryl and Cortisone 10 for quite some time. I took her to the vet last week and they did a Senior Wellness evaluation which was CBC, Chemistry, urine and thyroid and started her on antibiotics. Some results were shocking.
Alk Phos. was 2173, Triglycerides 420, Platelets 417, Urine pH 8.0, and T-4 0.6. They want her to go on Denamarin Chew 225mg and Soloxine 0.5 mg and a T4-Free T4L. After reading about milk thistle I was wondering if I should start her on this as she is not showing any symptoms of Cushings which they mentioned was a possibility.
I’m so confused how to proceed . Do you have any suggestions and could these lab results be a result of using Cortisone 10.
Cortisone can cause many of those changes in blood work. I recommend that you have your animal companion seen by a local holistic vet. You can find one at http://www.ahvma.org.
My dog Had a lump removed which was a soft tissue sarcoma. This returned after 8 months and she is now taking loxicom. Is it ok to give her this together with turmeric and milk thistle?
There are no studies with this combination but I do not see any reason not to.
Was wondering when to give milk thistle when dog is getting vaccinated and for how long. Am giving it now after the parvo/distemper vaccine and she is due for a rabies shot in March.
I would give it for 1 week before and 1 week after the vaccine.
Thanks Dr. Doug,
Also, what do you think about Lyssin C200 in addition to the Milk thistle as she had a reaction (a sizable lump at the injection site and a bit of maism when aroused) to her first rabies shot as a puppy, She will be 14 months old.
If we’re talking about a rabies vaccine then yes, Lyssin.
Yes I was talking about the rabies vaccine only. When would you administer, before, after or both? How much and how long? She is 70lbs and 15 months old.
Thanks Dr. Doug for your help.
I would give one dose at the time of the vaccine.
Thanks so much. I read that elsewhere too, but dosage on the bottle said give 3 days prior, 1 dose on vaccination day, and continue for 1 week following so wasn’t sure. I will only give one dose then. I guess you would want me to give it in the office right after the shot?
It does not have to be immediate but as close as practical.
Thanks for the advice Dr. Doug. It is invaluable to me as not any holistic vets in my area.
Hi Dr. Doug,
Our 4 month old puppy was diagnosed with parvo. The vet started him on two antibiotics, Iv fluids 2x a day and anti nausa meds. We are also giving him a pro and prebiotic. Is it ok to give him milk thistle to aid in his healing? or wait till after the antibiotics?
Probably best to wait until off the antibiotics. Probiotics are important now and for 4-5 weeks at least.
Is there a certain type or brand of Milk thistle that is better? I am using Life Extension European Milk Thistle.
I’m sure there are brands that are better than others. I use Health Concerns “Milk Thistle 80” but I’m sure there are many other great brands out there. I do not have the resources to know which other brands are good and which are not so good.
Working with the specialist my 5yo french bulldog apprears to have microvascular dysplasia (mild to moderate bile acids and he had elevated liver enzymes alt 690 and fatigue/mood issues). i would not know exact genetic liver issue without a biopsy so im trying to manage with food and meds. He is on both denamarin (started in oct) and ursodiol ( added in jan). He is also anaphylactic allergic to chicken and im pretty sure legumes as well (i stay away from fowls for protein and the peas and soy now as well). I have him on a raw diet and am balancing protein (emu, goat, llama, rabbit and some sardines) with sweet potatoes and veggies to help with amonia levels. Blood work is still has ALT of 390 after being on both meds and since jan. Do you think changing over to milk thistle may have better result? Clinically he is presenting much better less fatigue and moods. Can he take milk thistle with ursodial? Red meat is still heavy in diet not sure how much that is contributing to ongoing elevated alt. Rabbit does not have copper i could switch to raw rabbit and raw fish (carnivora brand-bones included) plus sardines. Since it is not a red meat, that may help with amonia levels and if a copper liver issue should technically make a difference.
Do you know of a good kelp supplement to potentially manage low traumine and vitamin D levels with rabbit? Does the fish balance that naturally? Thanks it is very challenging to find canadian vet resources. Thanks
Your best bet to help your dog is to find a holistic vet. You can find a listing on the “Find a vet” page at http://www.ahvma.org.
I’m looking into giving S-Adenosylmethionine for my almost 13 year old 85lb dog. I read it is better absorption than human Sam-e. I was also reading that it is recommended to also add Milk Thistle in addition. Could you advise? Thank you so much!
Forgot to mention, I was looking into the S-Adenosylmethionine for cognitive health reasons. Her liver enzyme tests have been normal.
Sorry, I’m not familiar with that.
Hi Dr Doug,
I have a cat (9 y.o) with elevated BUN (but normal creatinine) and elevated liver enzymes, my vet prescribed special Hepatic diet and Samylin for a month before his next blood test. I would like to know if is it okay for me to give him human’ Milk Thistle? My vet told me to use Milk Thistle but because it’s almost impossible to import supplements for animals use in my country (Indonesia), he didn’t have it and told me to try the ones for human use. There are only a handful brands which are sold here… What additional ingredients should I watch out for? Will the soft gels kind which contains soy oil harm my cat?
Thank you very much.
Today I had my almost 3yr old male at the vet for what was anticipated to be an xray for spinal trauma, but following some blood work, kidney, liver and urea, ALT levels were off the scale, over 1000 the vet said. My cat has had a time of it, been back and forth, been fobbed off as behavioural for weeks when hes been suffering. Vet said milk thistle can be used, human form around 190mg per day, his liver is in a bad way she said and he is a thin cat. I sprinkled a little on his food and he reluctantly ate away, ( one of his most presenting symptoms is ravenous Hunger) but am worried as I read more.and more than it should be in pet form?
Any advice or experiences would be greatly appreciated!
Human form is fine. Milk thistle is milk thistle unless some human product contain other stuff.
My dog is 14 years old and his ALT went from 207 to 416 in two months and I had him on a liver and kidney detox and support supplement with milk thistle in it along with some other things during this two months, but it still went up. My vet now has him on Denamarin to try to get the level to go down. I really don’t like giving that to him and it is really costly through the vet. He doesn’t like to chew them either so I have to fight with him to get him to chew it and get it down. Do you think since it seemed the supplement I had didn’t work and the level went up so high that I should continue with the Denamarin and check his levels again at some point? Maybe if they go back down I can go back to milk thistle? Your thoughts would be appreciated on this. Also, she wants me to start him on the antibiotic Clavamox at 1.7 ml per day for 30 days, but this tends to make him not feel good and not want to eat as he has had it before for other ailments. She thinks his liver may be inflamed and therefore the Clavamox treatment. I have not started the antibiotic yet because he tends to feel so crappy on it and we wanted to wait a bit to get started with the Denamarin. What are your feelings on giving him the Clavamox treatment? Do you think I really should do this? I hate my dog to feel crappy when he already doesn’t feel the greatest (he has good and bad days) and I know he will feel crappy on it. Just would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!!
Maybe it’s time to get a diagnosis. What’s causing the elevation in ALT? If you want to get to the bottom of the problem an abdominal ultrasound may give the answer. Ultimately it may take biopsies of the liver but i wouldn’t go that far just yet. If you end up giving the antibiotics give a good probiotic to mitigate the side effects.
What type of probiotic would you suggest to mitigate the side effects of the antibiotic? And would the probiotic interfere with the Denamarin? We really don’t know what is causing the elevation in ALT. He started having seizures 6 months back and found no reason for them so I put him on a herbal formula for them and he has not had one since. He is a small dog and he is 14 so the age has a lot to do with it. My vet has never suggested an abdominal ultrasound.
Can I give milk thistle to my 11lb yorkie who’s taking prednisolone? She had fluid on her lungs and the vet did a thoracentesis. She has a mammary tumor (that is inoperable and the vet thinks that cause the fluid build up. Also she has an enlarged liver.
It sounds like your best bet for helping your dog is to find a local holistic vet. Check out the vet finder at http://www.ahvma.org
I am thinking something with ginger in it for a probiotic for his nausea that he does have some days already. I really doubt I am going to do the antibiotic since he is nauseated most days unless I can get it under control. Is a probiotic with ginger in it something I could give to help his nausea? I want something natural and not medication at this point. Thank you so much.
It sounds like your best bet for helping your dog is to find a local holistic vet. Check out the vet finder at http://www.ahvma.org
i may have the dunbest questions ever but i have to ask anyway. Will milk thistle cleanse away all the vaccinations totally from a dog leaving no traces of it in dog’s body. Is the dog still protected from the vaccination or should the dog gets yearly vaccination due to yearly detoxification with milk thistle ?
I dont really plan to give my dog another vaccination since she has hers for 6 years straight. But i am afraid that the detox from milk thistle has totally cleanse her system making her vulnerable again. Kindly advise
The vaccine stimulates the immune system to respond to the diseases in the vaccine. Milk thistle does nothing to erase this immune system memory.
I give my dog milk thistle before and after vaccines. With an oral flea/tick preventative if I give it several days before and after, would it affect the efficiency of the drug? thank you
There are no studies with those drugs so nobody knows for sure. Milk thistle does effect the function of the liver detox system so it could have an effect.
My dog has been taking denamarin for 2 months, and his liver levels have actually increased since that time. I’m going to try the milk thistle now and d/c the denamarin. Are there any other natural supplements you suggest taking for overall health and detox?
I would suggest K9 Renal Support from Standard Process. I would also recommend finding out what is causing the enzyme elevations – at least an abdominal ultrasound.
Hi Dr. Doug,
About using human milk thistle on my cat… I found a brand which have:
Milk thistle extract: 250mg per serving
Other ingredients: Rice Flour, Dicalcium Phosphate, Gelatin
Contains <2% of: Silica, Vegetable Magnesium Stearate
I wonder if it's okay to give it to my cat (as I will open the capsule and sprinkle it on his food/put it with syringe with water)? How about the dose?
Sorry, I don’t know the dose in cats.
I just read another article that said it has to have glycerin in it to be “safe” for dogs. Is there any truth to that? Thank you!
It does not have to have glycerine in it.
Wow! Finally I got a blog from where I know how to really
obtain helpful facts regarding my study and knowledge.
Dear Dr Doug
My sweet 10 yr old papichuachua has been quite sick with enlarged gall bladder, gall bladder sludge not stones, and a few bouts of pancreatitis. This all happened after ivermectin for heart worm which I truly regret doing. It’s been a year on urisidiol and her gall bladder is getting bigger, the sludge has not went away. Do you think milk thistle would help and can it be taken with urisidiol?
Yes and yes.
Hi Dr. Doug,
I started my dog on milk thistle, organic natural vitamins/minerals about 3 weeks. Ever since then, he has not vomited once and has gotten his energy and appetite back. A week after, the vet prescribed antibiotics (Baytril) for 2 weeks in case it was a liver infection, but one of the side effects is elevated liver enzymes. His liver enzymes indeed went up 3 weeks later, despite his overall improved demeanor. Abdominal ultrasound did not reveal much and vet recommended possible biopsy? Do you think I should continue the milk thistle and get the blood re-tested later on?
That is a good plan. I recommend probiotics also.
My dog had a slightly elevated alk phos in Debruary with a score in the 130’s. My vet suggested we re-test in 3 months and the level went up to the upper 300’s at the end of May. My vet recommended denamarin and another blood test at the end of the month. Just got the results and they went up to 411. Would milk thistle be useful since the denamarin has no effect? ALL other blood work was totally normal, physical exam normal, and no abnormal behavior from my dog. Thank you!
Certainly milk thistle is worth a try. However, it is important to find out the cause of the enzyme elevation. I recommend an abdominal ultrasound to be sure the liver looks normal.
Hi Dr. Doug,
My 9 Y.O. cat who has an elevated liver enzymes (which has got worse after Meloxicam injection) was treated with Metronidazole for his pus filled bump which burst open, until 3 days ago. After starting his antibiotic, I noticed that on his back end there was very tiny worm like creature which crawled out and dried in a minute or three which later was lab tested as tapeworm segment(s). I find the numbers of them are elevated as the antibiotic treatment progressed and my vet told me to give him Drontal (paraziquantel 20mg, pyrantel pamoate 80mg) after his antibiotic regime finished.
I’m wondering if the dewormer safe enough to give as he had such an elevated level of ALT and AST since the drug will be mainly processed in the liver?
I already give him NHV milk thistle (liquid, specifically made for pets) daily for about a month. How early can I give the dose after deworming? As I’m worried his liver can’t handle the dying of symptoms from the parasites… Can I give him a few hours prior the deworming? Will milk thistle affect how the dewormer works?
I don’t think the Drontal will have a big effect on your cat’s liver. I also don’t think the milk thistle will effect the efficacy of the Drontal. I would suggest giving the milk thistle for a few days before the Drontal and then thereafter. Also, be sure to give a good probiotic to counteract teh negative effects of the antibiotic.
My Louie has Congestive Heart Failure and is on 3 daily medications: Furosemide (60mg per day), Vetmedin (5mg per day) and Benazepril (5mg per day). My question is will the Milk Thistle deplete these drugs in his system? I wanted to start him on Dandelion as a supplemental (natural) diuretic as well as help boost his potassium. The only dandelion i found also contains Milk Thistle. I just want to make sure there are no negative drug interactions.
Milk thistle does change the detox system of the liver and might affect the drugs. I’m sure can find a dandelion supplement that does not contain milk thistle – on the internet if nowhere else.
My Dog is having surgery for pyometra (infection of the uterus) her uterus will be taken out along with her ovaries, I Gave her Milk thistle for a week. When should I start her back on milk thistle? she will be given Clavamox ( antibiotics) and pain medication for 1-2 weeks.
Thank you for your site. My 10-year-old 52 lb. dog has an ALT of 199; last year her ALT measured 105 and a month after being on Galliprant for “end stage arthritis” the ALT rose to 158. We stopped the Galliprant and 10 months later the ALT has further elevated to 199. The vet recommends Denamarin and possibly an ultrasound, but I would like to try milk thistle first. My dog has been on Tylenol for a week to help with pain although the vet suggests Tramadol. I prefer holistic medicine and am also giving my dog “Standard Process Canine Flex Support” and hope to find another alternative holistic remedy that will help her joints. Can you please tell me how much “Health Concerns Milk Thistle 80” I should give my 52 lb. canine companion and if it should be with food? Should I stop other medication (the Tylenol or Flex Support) while she is taking milk thistle? Thanks so much for your help.
You would want to give 1 tab twice daily of the milk thistle. You can give it with the other supplements. Tylenol is not good for the liver. Right now you’re treating a number. It would be better to try to find out what’s causing the elevation. The ultrasound is the first step for that. Your dog would benefit from acupuncture.
Great website and article–thank you! My holistic vet recommended Denamarin for my 12 yo cattle dog (idiopathic renal hematuria), but now that I’ve realized it’s available…I’d rather use a pure herbal source rather than big-pharma. I saw that you recommend the Health Concerns brand–would you recommend the lower dose (75-100 mg per 10#)?
She also recommended Dasuquin for joint supplement (dog is currently on Phyto-Flex (enzymes, probiotics, joint supplement), so if you know anything about them, I’d appreciate it.
She also recommended fish oil, 1300mg DHA & EPA combined. Is there a particular brand you recommend?
My dog’s been on Yunnan Baiyao for over a year, 250mg SID, per the specialist that diagnosed the hematuria after finding nothing on ultrasound. The hematuria hasn’t stopped, but hasn’t gotten any worse. The holistic vet we saw today recommended discontinuing for 30 days to take a break, then starting at 500mg BID for 30 days. I hate giving meds, even herbs, if there’s no point. I’d love your input on any and all!
Thanks so much 🙂
That dose of the milk thistle sounds good. I’m not familiar with Phyto-Flex. I usually recommend Glycoflex. I think Nordic Naturals is a good brand of fish oil.
Hello Dr. Doug,
My 7.5 year Bugg has had pancreatitis and recently found she has a mass on her liver. Awaiting a ct scan.
Can I give her milk thistle if she is already taking Zeb
Zentonil Advanced 200? If so, what is the dosage for a 23 pound dog?
I do not know what Zeb Zentonil is.