Protecting your Dog’s Liver with Milk Thistle

Posted on October 27th, 2020 to Dogs

Toxins surround us every day. Our dogs aren’t exempt from this. There are toxins in their food, in their water, in the grass outside, and even in the air they breathe. There’s no way to escape them. That’s where their (and our) liver comes in.

The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins from the blood. Since the liver is the organ primarily responsible for filtration, it’s no surprise that it’s also highly susceptible to disease and damage. 

Every organ in the body is, in some way, connected to another. There are separate organs and separate organ systems, but they all work together in harmony. This means when one has damage, the others will surely follow. 

According to Dr. Gary Richter, “Western medicine is a little short on treatment options for chronic liver conditions. The first step of treatment should be to avoid any drugs that are not absolutely necessary, including flea, tick, and heartworm products, as they all eventually have to be processed by the liver. Anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis, like NSAIDs, are to be avoided in particular.” Dr. Richter went on to state “use both food and supplements to support a chronically inflamed liver.”

That’s why it’s important to understand how to help your dog’s liver remove toxicity. One of the best natural options available is milk thistle.

What is Milk Thistle?

Milk thistle is a flower native to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Humans have been taking advantage of its therapeutic benefits for thousands of years. It’s so widely accepted, even conventional medicine recommends milk thistle as one of the few herbs of medicinal use. Conventional medicine typically favors western style, pharmaceutical treatments over the alternative and holistic (CBD, herbal medicine, natural remedies), So, for the FDA to recommend an alternative medicine is a rarity. This speaks to the impressive properties of the plant. 


There are three compounds of interest found in milk thistle: silychristine, silydianin, and silybin. You may have heard of the mixture of these three compounds; silymarin. Silymarin is generally used for people as a liver tonic.

But, the benefits of milk thistle in pets has been recently noticed. The ability to repair liver and kidney function, jaundice, leptospirosis, parvo, and hepatitis has been researched.


A study published in Antioxidants stated “SM [silymarin] has been the gold standard drug to treat liver disorders of different etiologies and milk thistle extracts have been used as traditional herbal remedies (“liver tonics”) for almost 2000 years. Therefore, SM is most well known for its antioxidant and chemoprotective effects on the liver and it is often prescribed and self-prescribed as a complementary and alternative hepatoprotective medicine. 

Wait, what does Hepatoprotective mean?

Things are referred to as hepatoprotective when they reduce stress and fatigue and prevent future injury in a liver that may be overworked.

The article goes on to say…

“SM is being studied as a Hepato -(Liver), Neuro- (Brain), Nephro- (Kidney) and Cardio-(Heart) protective ingredient due to its strong antioxidant and tissue regenerative properties.”

Dr. Gary Richter, DVM stated “extracts of milk thistle seeds have been shown to both protect liver cells and promote growth of new liver cells. The whole seeds themselves are not biologically active if ingested; only the extracted compounds such as silymarin are effective.”

Preventing and Repairing Liver Damage

Research shows milk thistle can help prevent and repair liver damage. A study published by Phytotherapy Research stated “ In animals, silymarin reduces liver injury caused by acetaminophen, carbon tetrachloride, radiation, iron overload, phenylhydrazine, alcohol, cold ischaemia and Amanita phalloides. Silymarin has been used to treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis and toxin-induced liver diseases.”

Milk thistle is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are what protect us from free radicals. Free radicals cause instability in the body. According to research, “A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function. If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues.” This can lead to conditions including cancer, arthritis, and heart disease

Prescription medications, or over-the-counter medications, can produce free radicals within the body. Milk thistle has been found to prevent or reduce medication-induced damage to the liver. 

When your dog’s liver is weak, the liver has a hard time flushing out toxins on it’s own. Milk thistle will help flush out the toxins in the body and repair liver function.

Dosage for Milk Thistle

Dosages for milk thistle vary based on the product. The following are several examples:

Amber Natural Milk Thistle: This product is a tincture; pure milk thistle. The dosage of the product varies by weight (see table below). This should be provided orally up to four times per day.

Inflapotion: Other tinctures, like Inflapotion, mix milk thistle with other powerful herbs. In these cases, the dosage is much different as is the administration. Dogs and cats should use one full dropper, three times per day (it will only fill halfway), per 25 pounds until results are observed. Then, work back one dose per day for maintenance purposes. Dogs and cats who are under 25 pounds should have one drop per pound of body weight. 

The Bottom Line

Who knew milk thistle could prove to be such a powerful herb for our pets? As scientists, we are always searching for ways to improve our loved ones’ conditions without adding more harm to the body. Providing milk thistle as a natural remedy to detox the liver can help our pets (and us) tremendously. Since our liver is primarily responsible for filtering out all the ‘bad,’ we can now do the liver a favor and help it clean itself out in a natural fashion. 

About Angela Ardolino

Angela Ardolino Schnauzer Odie

Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of  Beautify the Beast a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit for more information.