Echinacea is a flower that’s known to have medicinal value. People strongly believe it supports the immune system but isn’t typically given to dogs. Nearly all testing of this herbal supplement has focused on humans.
So how about the potential for a pet? If your dog is already healthy, they don’t need preventative immune system support. There are cases, however, where the use of Echinacea could possibly help a beloved dog.
Some say this herbal supplement is beneficial to dogs for certain infections, including UTIs. In fact, it may be effective for upper respiratory tract infections including kennel cough. That said, most vets recommend more definitive solutions.
Can I Give My Dog Echinacea? Answer: Yes, for upper respiratory infections
But such a potentially serious medical problem should be handled by a professional.
Otherwise, the use of Echinacea as a health supplement doesn’t really make sense for dogs. Your best buddy doesn’t need it to lead a healthy and happy life. Your dog will get all the nourishment and immune system support they need from a well-formulated dog food. If you really think supplementation is required, consider a canine-formulated product called Nupro which is all natural just like echinacea.
Surprising Swiss Study
It’s important to understand that the following clinical conclusions do not support the idea of giving this popular flower to your dog for preventative reasons. That said, there is actually a good scientific basis for providing Echinacea to dogs. Six veterinarians from Switzerland provided powered Echinacea to 41 different dogs suffering with either chronic or seasonal upper respiratory infections including kennel couch and bronchitis. After 8 weeks of this treatment, there was significant improvement with only 2 of the dogs not responding positively.
Use of this all-natural medicinal flower has become common and it’s taken for all sorts of things. From skin problems including wounds, eczema, psoriasis and even insect bites to urinary tract infections. Many people believe it can also help maintain health when the common cold and flu are going around.
It’s understandable that you’d consider echinacea extract to treat your dog as well. But in truth, this isn’t likely to benefit dogs in the same way, not to mention it’s fairly expensive as a long term supplement. Instead, you really should get a recommendation from your vet instead. If your dog really does have a medical problem, which requires attention, they’ll likely give you a prescription for canine-appropriate antibiotics which will be much more effective.
The K9 Immune System
Echinacea is well known for its immune system strengthening properties. Without getting into too many details, the canine immune system is different. The vast majority of the time it will be functioning properly, as long as your dog is well-fed and getting regular exercise.
Yes, although rare, it’s possible for dogs to have trouble with their immune systems as well. There are herbal remedies that can work, with the most popular being milk-thistle. Also known as Silybum marianum, it acts to cleanse the liver and provides trickle down cleansing benefits to the rest of the body. It may actually be better suited for dogs than Echinacea.
As a Laxative Solution
Among its many uses, humans sometimes take echinacea to help with constipation. For a dog, this isn’t really the best treatment. You can either let the condition pass on its own, or give them something like canned pumpkin to help move things along.
Opting to wait, since dogs have relatively fast metabolism, is usually prudent because constipation likely won’t remain a problem for long. If it does happen more than occasionally, consider upgrading their dog food so that they get a better mix of ingredients with less fillers.
Conclusion on Echinacea
Most vets do not consider giving dogs Echinacea. While some herbal medicines show signs of efficacy in humans, it doesn’t necessarily translate to canines. One exception may be treatment for upper respiratory infections, as supported by a Swiss study, but first you need to get your dog a proper diagnosis. But under normal circumstances, providing a quality dog food including fresh water and lots of love form the best basis for good health rather than echinacea supplementation.