In this article we’ll touch on the MANY benefits of astragalus for dogs and discuss how you can use it as a safe treatment option for your four-legged friend. This is an exceptional herb that I’ve used often over the years for my own dogs.
Astragalus is actually a member of the pea family with divided leaves and small flowers and pods. The herb has been cultivated throughout much of the world, but it originated in China.
In that it has been used for thousands of years as a piece of traditional Chinese medicine, its commercial value is considerable and it has been marketed heavily in combination with other herbs.
It is a perennial that blooms from spring to the early summer. Mature roots, at least three years old or older, are the parts of astragalus used in medicinal applications.
The primary medicinal applications of astragalus include as an anti-inflammatory, as a hypotensive to lower blood pressure, as a blood cleanser, and as a hypothyroid to mildly depress functioning of the thyroid. It is also generally used to boost resistance in dogs due to its high antioxidant components.
As mentioned, the mature roots of astragalus are used in treatment options as infusions or tinctures. There are many commercial options of the Chinese supplement astragalus available as well.
One of the primary (and most popular) uses of astragalus is it’s ability to greatly improve immunity. This helps strengthen the dog’s body against any viral infections, particularly those in the respiratory or circulatory system.
I personally used and recommend Seven Forests Astragulus 10 which is in my opinion one of the best! My dobie Jenna was on this for years after being diagnosed as being hypothyroid, and having kidney and liver problems. Use this dosage as a guide: My 75 pound dobe received: 1 tablet in the morning and 1 in the evening.
- Astragalus also stimulates T-cell activity and raises white blood cell counts, boosting the body’s defenses against disease and illness by improving the function of the liver.
- Astragalus strengthens kidney function, making it a favorite treatment in early states of infection and/or kidney disease or renal failure.
- Also recommended for dogs with cancer.
- Astragalus has been used in some applications to boost energy levels in debilitated dogs and human beings, which is a big plus for those taking on serious diseases like cancer and looking for a way to formulate some functional balance. Astragalus can be used to help regulate the body’s levels and help alleviate stress put on the system by disease.
Using astragalus is generally considered quite safe, but some species of it are toxic to grazing animals. Roots, powders and preparations should only be purchased from reputable dealers like Seven Forests! Astragalus is considered a category 1 herb which means it is a safe “food” herb.
There is also a concern over selenium in some soils, as a higher concentration of it can be found in some soils where astragalus grows. If you plan on planting your own astragalus, it’s best to have your soil testing for selenium before you get started.
While many say to avoid this herb for auto immune disorders such as hypothyroidism or diabetes; it’s believed that it may help hyperthyroidism. For hypothyroidism and diabetes, a safe alternative in this case may be Red Ginseng. Read the comments below for dosage for the red ginseng.
Reasons to Use
Obviously the most popular reason to use astragalus is as an immune booster. It is available in most health food stores and can be rather easy to grow on your own if you’re into that sort of thing.
For those interested in the easier path to health, there are quite a few immune boosting products on the market that include a healthy dose of astragalus for dogs, but the best option is using a product like the one I mentioned earlier.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen, Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats by Shawn Messonnier, DVM, Veterinary Herbal Medicine by Mary Wynn, DVM