In this entry of our series on herbs for dogs, we’re going to be talking about black walnut.
This somewhat sinister-sounding treatment is common throughout eastern North America, but it’s also found as an ornamental tree in other parts of the United States and throughout southern Canada.
It was introduced in Europe in or around about 1629 and is still cultivated there for its wood.
Black walnut blooms in the springtime and actually bears its nuts in the early summer. Interestingly, the black walnut flowering tree is more resistant to frost and other elements than other walnut trees.
To this day, black walnuts are still harvested by hand from the wild trees. The majority of nuts harvested come from Missouri, with the largest black walnut processing plant located in that state. The outer hard black walnut shell is used in a number of applications, including in commercial cleaners and even in oil well drilling.
At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly why anyone would be recommending black walnut for dogs. This is where things get interesting. Black walnut is notorious as much for its misuse in herbal applications as it is for its proper use.
Let’s be clear: black walnut is one of the safest and most reliable worming agents of all the herbal options we’ve explored thus far. BUT, used improperly, black walnut can be as toxic to the host as it can be to the tapeworm. Proceed with extreme caution, in other words.
As mentioned, black walnut is one of the best worming agents out there. The green, unripe nut hulls are used to create a series of over-the-top worming agents. There are also alcohol tinctures available that use black walnut.
- Approaching this from a holistic mindset, black walnut worming agents offer what is called a symptomatic worming agent that is easier on the body and better than most other herbal agents on the market. The trouble with merely approaching worming from a symptomatic point of view is that it doesn’t get at the reasons your dog has worms in the first place and therefore it won’t actually CURE the underlying issues.
- Now, making your own black walnut tincture is something that we generally only advise for experienced herbal users. You should start with just a single drop of the stuff in your pet’s food and monitor any signs and symptoms going forward. If there are any adverse effects whatsoever, discontinue use immediately and seek medical attention from a veterinarian.
- A tincture is generally about 40 to 60 percent alcohol, with black walnut tincture being the most effective when the green hulls are soaked in alcohol for at least three days and as many as three weeks. There are some tinctures that are not good for internal use, so be sure to consult your holistic veterinarian before you proceed.
As mentioned, there are many reasons to be wary around black walnut. Despite the fact that it is, when used properly, tremendously effective at doing what it does, it can also be toxic if used improperly. As we always caution, anything that can be used to kill something like a tapeworm can also have adverse effects fr your animal.
Be extremely careful with black walnut and, if you have any doubts at all about this treatment option, avoid it.
Reasons to Use
As mentioned, black walnut can be a tricky one. It is as good a symptomatic treatment for worms as there is, but using it as such avoids getting to the heart of why your dog has worms and only serves as a very effective bandage on a larger problems.
For this reason and because of the aforementioned preventative measures, we discourage use of black walnut for most cases and suggest that it only be used where absolutely necessary.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen