Milk Thistle for Pets


By Rodney Habib,  Dogs Naturally Magazine and Pet Wellbeing

Milk Thistle is a well-known ‘liver herb’ for both people and pets. It can be used to support general liver health and detoxification, and has an overall excellent safety* profile.  A company called Pet Wellbeing offers a full-spectrum Milk Thistle, extracted from the whole seeds.

Milk Thistle can provide natural support for pets experiencing:

  • Long or short term prescription drug administration
  • Fatty liver
  • Liver diseases
  • Cholestasis (bile obstruction from liver to small intestine)
  • Cancer (including liver cancer)
  • Diabetes (with careful monitoring of blood sugar levels)

Milk Thistle is commonly given to pets while concurrently administering prescription drugs. Examples include: treatment for Heartworm, pain medications, steroids, and a vast number of other medications that can affect the liver. The liver is the organ with a primary role in metabolizing drugs and helping the body excrete toxic substances. If your pet is being given medications, some liver support is highly recommended.

So how does it work?

Milk Thistle helps protect and strengthen liver cells, stimulates their repair and regeneration, and even promotes production of new liver cells. Milk Thistle is an excellent herb for supporting general detoxification as well as recovery after infections.

Milk Thistle is often prepared in an alcohol base for optimizing extraction of its beneficial compounds; however, alcohol is not ideal for our pets. Pet Wellbeing Milk Thistle is first alcohol-extracted to ensure potency, and then the alcohol is removed and replaced with glycerin, providing a safe, alcohol-free product for your pet. Milk Thistle is gentle enough for long-term use.

Additional Uses

Milk thistle not only helps treat and prevent liver disease. Below is a list of treatment claims linked to the plant:

  • Kidney disease: If there has been kidney damage to your pet because of an infection milk thistle has been show to greatly decrease the amount of time it takes your pet to heal. • Pancreatitis: Although rare in cats, pancreatitis is very common in dogs. Milk thistle can be given to your dog and cat to help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Cancer: Milk thistle has been shown to decrease the effects of cancer in a pet’s body. While there haven’t been many studies done, there have been enough that it has shown improvement and helps protect against the potential for cancer in your pet.
  • Diabetes: Pets suffering from diabetes that are given milk thistle at least once per week have been shown to not have to have nearly the amount of insulin that they would have had to take otherwise.

Clearly, milk thistle has an array of positive effects throughout the body.

However, milk thistle should not be used as a preventative, or a “just in case”; rather, it should be used as a means of cleansing the liver after exposure to toxins (i.e. drugs, vaccines, chemicals, etc.) or as a treatment to liver damage. Milk thistle stimulates the growth of new liver cells in order to replace those that are dead or dying, and helps protect against toxins which could cause further damage.

Remember, medicinal herbs shouldn’t be used for extended periods of time.  Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff explain in their book entitled Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance your Pet’s Life: “Despite much of the publicity that has been generated about this ‘wonder herb’, milk thistle should not be used as a daily food supplement. Milk thistle is a medicine that is best reserved for situations in which the liver is already under abnormal stress.” Most holistic doctors feel that milk thistle should be administered for 3-6 weeks with a 1-3 week break.

Also, pregnant and lactating pets should not be given milk thistle because the research is still inconclusive.

You can find milk thistle in most health food stores or health sections of your local grocery store. It can be found in capsule, tablet and tincture forms.

The usual recommended extract of milk thistle contains 70 to 80 percent silymarin. Each extract should be labeled with the silymarin percent. The tincture can be administered at a starting dose of 1/4 tsp. per 20lbs of animal’s body weight per day. The daily dosage should be taken in 2-4 equally divided doses. With the powder format, administer 2-5mg per 1lb of the animal’s body weight, 2 to 3 times per day. Read labels carefully, discuss dosages and, although there are no known drug interactions, it’s always important to consult with your veterinarian.

 *If your pet is on any medications, always inform their vet of any natural remedies or supplements that are being considered for use, to avoid possible drug-herb interference.

You can read more about Milk Thistle and order it with the URL below:



Milk Thistle for Cat Liver Disease

  • Helps maintain liver health in cats
  • Health support during use of drugs (like chemotherapy)
  • Helps support regeneration of damaged liver cells
  Milk Thistle for Dog Liver Disease
Essential for dogs with liver disease & dogs taking medications such as:

  • Steroids
  • Heartworm prevention
  • Pain or anti-inflammatory medications

Milk Thistle