First of all I want to put your mind at rest that milk thistle is safe for dogs. Please read the complete article at the is link: Article by Dogs Naturally Mag. Below is a summary and my own input.
Milk thistle is a flower in the Aster family. A native of the Mediterranean regions of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, this plant, particularly its seeds and roots, has been used medicinally for over 2000 years. Milk thistle is one of very few traditionally used herbs that has been widely accepted by conventional science to have significant medicinal value. It has been called “milk thistle” because of a feature of the leaves, which are prominently splashed with white spots. Three important chemicals have been isolated from the milk thistle: silychristine, silydianin, and silybin. The mixture of these three substances is called silymarin.
Humans usually use milk thistle as a liver tonic. However, silymarin has recently been advocated for use in pets because the benefits that have been examined in humans have also been approved as beneficial for pets. It can be used in dogs, cats, horses, goats, ferrets, and rodents to aid in liver or kidney damage, hepatitis, jaundice, leptospirosis, and parvovirus recovery.
With this being said get your vets opinion on all supplementation protocols and before using Milk Thistle for your Doberman.
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.
Milk Thistle 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.
Fortunately, research suggests that milk thistle extract not only prevents damage to the liver, but also helps repair it.
First, milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect us from chemicals in our bodies called free radicals. Exposure to environmental toxins can increase free radicals in the body, which can do a lot of damage to our cells. This is called oxidation and can eventually lead to cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Milk thistle protects the liver against harmful oxidation.
Secondly, while we don’t necessarily think of medications as “toxins,” many over the counter drugs and prescription medications can hurt the liver if taken in large enough doses or for long periods of time. Researchers have found that milk thistle can actually prevent or reduce medication induced liver damage. If you have been giving your pet medication and are concerned about the aftermath of chemicals residing in the body, milk thistle will help flush those out.
Thirdly, if the liver has been weakened due to a bevy of reasons, it is unable to break down toxins. In order to combat allergens, the body produces histamine. The liver plays a role in this process; it removes the histamine from the body. If the liver is weakened and congested with toxins, the liver struggles and histamine builds up in the body, leading to more allergic reactions.
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.
Digestive : The liver is closely connected to Digestive process. Excellent digestion is the first system to work on with the Liver coming in as a close second when eliminating allergies.
Eyes : The liver is closely connected to the eyes in Chinese Medicine. Cleansing the liver can help out any treatments for the Dobermans eyes as well.
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.
Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs by Martin Zucker
The Pet Lover’s Guide to Natural Healing for Cats & Dogs by Barbara Fougere, BVSc (this book was recommended by my vet)