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The Many Uses of Milk Thistle For Cats and Dogs

Posted October 23, 2015

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This month as we talk about an integrative approach to pet health, I wanted to discuss the powerful benefits of Milk thistle for cats and dogs in helping to improve liver function and protect the liver from the side-effects of pharmaceuticals.

What exactly is Milk Thistle?

Milk Thistle, otherwise known as silybum marianum, is from the family asteraceae. It is known as a liver support herb, as well as an antioxidant. This plant has been used since ancient times for liver disease, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, and cancer support. Milk thistle also protects against toxins, supports regeneration of healthy cells, is anti-inflammatory, is useful for post- disease recovery, and is useful for hepatitis, generalized inflammation, toxin recovery, portosystemic shunt – any and all liver disease of dogs and cats.

Why Should I want to support my pet’s liver?

Think of the liver as a filter, which cleans the blood that has just been enriched with vitamins and minerals during digestion. The liver processes the material that the rest of your cat or dog’s body can’t use. The liver’s job is to take the toxins out of blood. It’s important to note that toxins can be a normal part of a healthy body function, like breaking down protein.

When it comes to waste: Bile carries most waste into the intestine and out of your cat or dog’s body. Other waste is processed by the liver and goes through your cat or dog’s blood and into their kidneys and out through the urinary system.

In a nut shell, the liver is a large filter for toxins. With this in mind, I add milk thistle to aid the clearing of the liver for any patient of mine that is chronically on a western medication. Every drug is processed by the liver, and can be a burden to the liver, causing elevated liver enzymes and decreasing liver function (such as medications to treat seizures). 

How Does Milk Thistle Work?

Milk thistle aids in supporting the liver by decreasing aminotransferase activity (important in the synthesis of amino acids which form proteins which are an important indicator of liver damage). In my experience, using NHV Milk Thistle Extract has greatly reduced elevated blood liver enzymes and helped to treat liver disease.

What Are Some Other Benefits of Milk Thistle For My Cat or Dog?

Along with supporting the liver, Milk thistle helps kidney disease, as it is a strong antioxidant to the kidneys reducing oxidative damage. I prescribe milk thistle for kidney disease to support the kidneys in treatments as well as prevent progression of kidney disease.

Benefits for cancer are tremendous. Traditional treatments for cancer involve medications decreasing the immune system and the liver processes all of those drugs. Milk thistle helps to protect the negative effects of the medications and improves liver function.

If you have any questions regarding Milk Thistle, or if you would like a second opinion on a more integrative approach to your pet’s health that combines the benefits of natural supplements, please get in touch with me for a vet consultation. You can also contact your NHV Pet Expert.

Yours in wellness,
Dr. H. Cook (DVM, CVA)



Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

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*Product reviews are solely the experience and opinion of the reviewer. Actual results may vary.