arnica for dogs and how to use it

Arnica is well known among those of us who practice holistic and natural healing for ourselves and our pets.  It’s popularity mostly comes from it’s healing power for pain.

This amazing herb should be included in every dog owner’s first aid kit.  Our article will teach you how to safely apply Arnica for your own dog.

Therapeutic Use

In most applications, the whole flower is used. It comes in the form of a pellet, tablet, gel or cream.  Some things to keep in mind when administering Arnica or any homeopathic medicine; it’s not that same as administering a traditional medicine and it’s important to understand this.

Use Pure Arnica from Boiron Which Comes in Pellets, Cream or Gel

*NOTE: Instructions and dosage below…


1. MORE IS NOT BETTER and upping the amounts of pellets beyond the typical dosage DOES NOT increase the dosage like it does with traditional drugs.

2. Dosage and dosage frequency is not determined by how much your dog weighs. It is determined by your dog’s symptoms, frequency of the symptoms and the category in which they fall (recent, seasonal, chronic).  Typically 3 pellets are considered a dose, but this really depends on the dog’s condition and what the problem is.  A dose can be anywhere between 1-5 pellets depending on the severity.

3. Example: Arthritis is known as a chronic condition, meaning it has made a home in your dog’s body.  The typical dosage for chronic conditions is one dose 3 times daily. Remember, one dose is generally considered up to 3 pellets.  While 6C is considered low potency; 30C is considered in the middle when it comes to potency and seems to work well for arthritis.

4. Another example: If your dog hurts his leg running, etc., this would fall into the the category of “recent” category.  3 doses of 30C every 4 hours for two days would be good in this case.  If it’s a stubborn injury, you can give 5 pellets every 4 hours for three days.

Dosage and Instructions

1. The gel and cream forms are applied topically to any areas of the body where the dog has experienced trauma.  Arnica has been used to treat everything from sore muscles to bruises and sprains. Arthritis symptoms have also been alleviated with topical application of arnica gels and creams.

2. ADMINISTERING TO YOUR DOG: The pellets do not have to be swallowed by the dog.  While some say you should never touch the pellet, others claim it makes no difference.  If you want to avoid touching the pellets, the dispenser lid twists and drops the pellets into the lid.  Using the lid, drop the pellets into the mouth.  If possible, you want to try and get them around the mucous membranes and allow them to dissolve.  So, place below the front teeth on the gum line, or in the jowl pocket of the cheek.  They will dissolve but it takes awhile. Dr. Elliot also shares a great idea of crushing the pellets and placing the powder into your dog’s mouth. If that doesn’t work, try this: once you’ve crushed the pellets, place the crushed arnica pellets into one tablespoon of distilled water and stir. Now place one teaspoon directly into the dog’s mouth.  Save the other two teaspoons for later. Give your dog another teaspoon of the water every four hours until you see improvement.

3. ARNICA DOSAGE: DO NOT GIVE WITH FOOD. FEED ARNICA 15 MINUTES BEFORE OR AFTER FOOD. Dosage: 3 pellets equal one dose (Dr. Elliot recommends giving 2-3 pellets at a time,  which again are considered one dose).  Directions for applying arnica to sore muscles, joints and sprains: It’s important to remember that arnica creams are used for closed-tissue injuries only. The infusion of arnica gel or cream should be applied directly to the skin itself and not the fur of your dog. After moistening the skin with arnica tincture, gel or cream and wrap the area in gauze or cloth. Secure it so that it can’t be taken off. Repeat this up to four times daily. If the condition worsens after 2-3 days, see your dog’s holistic vet.

4.  Dr. Weil recommends mixing one tablespoon of arnica tincture with a pint of spring (or purified) water. Using gauze or a sanitary pad, dip it into the mixture and apply it to the bruised area or sore arthritic joint.

instructions on using arnica for dog pain

 Preventative Measures

As mentioned, arnica shouldn’t be applied to open wounds. This is because it works quickly to stimulate dilation and circulation of peripheral blood vessels, which can actually increase the blood flow of an open and bleeding wound. Applying arnica gels or creams to open wounds can also slow the natural coagulation process.

If arnica is used too long, redness and irritation can result and dogs may lick or chew where it was applied. Abrasions and lesions have also been reported, so discontinue use if you see any of these signs on your dog’s skin.

Internal applications of arnica can result in stomach irritation and digestive problems if used too long. Throat irritation and mouth ulcers can also result, especially when arnica is used at a higher dosage than recommended. Other possible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and even organ failure.

NEVER use arnica creams or gels around the eyes or mouth areas.

Reasons to Use

The best use of arnica is in its topical form to help alleviate sore muscles and bruising. It also has dramatic and demonstrable effects in the time period immediately after injury occurs, helping to cut down on symptoms of pain and strain in dogs.

As with all of the herbal treatments we’ve been discussing, you should monitor your dog’s reactions to arnica in any of its forms.  When using arnica for dogs, don’t overuse it and always follow any written instructions to ensure your best friend’s safety and well-being.

The History Behind the Herb Called Arnica

Arnica is actually a sunflower with bright yellow flowers and opposing leaves on the stem. Most arnicas have a satisfying aroma, existing as they do in the mountainous regions of North America.

The plant is a perennial that blooms in the second year of growth and is among the first flowers to bloom in early spring. Arnica is also known as Leopard’s Bane.

Arnica is usually used for dogs with muscle aches, strains and other associated injuries. It has also been used on dogs with emotional stress and can even aid in the rehabilitation process after dogs have experienced brain or spinal cord injuries.

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Showing 186 comments
  • Vee

    My 8yr old Dachshund got diagnose with IVDD intervertebral disk disease, he’s seems be in a lot of pain, vet prescribed him pain meds and steroids and is on a strict crate rest, can i give my dog arnicare tablets and will it help him?

  • Rosa Booher

    I have a 10 year old, black, 57 lb. Rescue dog. 4 yrs ago we had a plate pit in one knee and he can now walk.
    He has arthritis and lower spine,from x-ray seem to be a problem. Should we look at Acupuncture? Have used Arnica and it helps but Meds recommended by vet. worry me.
    Previcox and Gabapentin. He was on Rimadyl. He takes Dasuquin also. He
    Eats Blue Buffalo dry and wet with canned or frozen green beans
    . I need suggestions..please.
    Rosa & Lucky Diego

    • janie

      Hi Rosa:

      I don’t blame you for not wanting to use Previcox and Gabapentin or Rimadyl. I would definitely move to supplements AND acupuncture or find a chiropractor in your area that works on animals as well. Not all vets that work on the spine are truly experts (so I’ve heard). They take a light course (4 hrs, etc) on pressure points and claim it as a service.

      I’ve used both. A real chiropractor that works on animals and a vet who took the course and I can tell you that my girl responded much better to the chiropractor’s service! I would also move completely away from Blue Buffalo and commercial canned food. Real, whole food will also help fight inflammation. If you need some guidance in this area, just let me know.

      I can also share some other supplements for pain and overall health for Diego if you’re interested.


    • Prudence Brighton

      My dog has done very well with acupuncture.

      • janie

        Thanks for sharing Prudence. Our dogs have also done well with acupuncture.


      • Nicole

        Hi – what other supplements work for dog joint pain (knee, hip,)? We use a cartilage formula with chondroiton but she’s still in pain. We also use omega 3’s, Flax Oil, etc. there was a recent injury to her back end but we think arthritis symptoms started there awhile ago..

  • Amanda


    We have a 75 pound German Shepard-Collie mix. Big, beautiful boy! He is 12 now and although he still rallies like a champ, his hips are becoming a chronic problem. We don’t practice certain forms of medicine in our house so are not interested in the vet’s pain killer Rx. I’m looking into acupuncture, daily arnica, and daily turmeric bone broth from Honest Kitchen. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

    • janie

      Hi Amanda:

      That’s great that your old boy is doing so good. You guys must of done an outstanding job with nutrition, etc.

      I would just say to include Celtic sea salt daily for pain. Despite what the package says, it does include trace amounts of minerals. You can learn a little more from this video on how it can help. Video


  • Kirsten Schlenker

    You have to be careful mixing multiple doses of remedy as when they are shaken/stirred it potentiates (strengthens) the remedy.

  • Jane

    Is cream or pill for better for treating a small hemetoma?

    • janie

      Hi Jane:

      I like the topical method (cream) for a small hematoma. Remember, they can heal themselves as long as you stop your dog from shaking his head.

      This means to clear up any ear infections and place something on your dog’s head to stop the ears from flapping around when he or she shakes the head.

      You can make your own headwrap like the one we made in the picture below using a soft fleece or a sleeve cut off from a nice big soft sweatshirt. You’ll need to use a large safety pin to make it nice and snug.

      Or, you can purchase one here on Amazon.


      homemade head wrap for a dog with a hematoma

  • Denise

    Will Arnica help with growing pains. My 11 months old Berner (80 lbs) is having growing pains– She’s having pain in her right shoulder and won’t dip her head to eat out of her raised food bowls. The vet diagnosed and perscribed some pain meds after Xrays but I hate giving them to her. Can I use a mix of Arnica and Thercurcumin to address her pain? I take Arnica 30X so I know it works.

    • janie

      Hi Denise:

      Yes, you can give both Arnica and Curcumin for pain. However, I would be concerned about the CAUSE vs just treating the symptom.

      She’s young. With her condition and if you continue to vaccinate and/or use chemical flea and tick products, the problem will most likely get worse.

      Feed her a high protein diet.


  • Allison

    My dog was just diagnosed with a torn ACL. He is a nine year old bloodhound/mastiff mix. We currently have him taking Rimadyl, three days after injury. We are opting out of surgery. Would it be best to give him Arnica tablets, or use the topical cream? Also, can this be used along with the Rimadyl? Thank you for the great help!!

    • janie

      Hi Allison:

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m sorry to hear about your dog’s torn ACL. What do you plan on doing for him long term in order to heal the torn ACL? Rimadyl long term is DEFINITELY not recommended.

      I personally would use arnica tablets internally (follow my instructions in the article for dosage) and use comfrey extract topically like this one here on Amazon. Rub it onto the ACL that is torn daily for at least 4 months and still limit your dog to running and tearing it again. I would not give Comfrey AND Rimadyl together. You can read about Comfrey here.

      I hope this helps. Feed your dog a good diet. NOT kibble. Take care of the liver and kidneys.


  • sylvie

    Hi I have accidentally given my 6 year old Boxer 2 doses of 200 arnica (thought it was 30) after he sprained his paw. I can really see where the expression Hang Dog comes from as he is really affected by it. I gave the first one about 2pm yesterday and another one some 4 hours later. How long will it take to get out of his system or should I be treating him with an antidote. He is sleeping soundly but did wag his tail when we got up this morning. Has not eaten and dont think he has drank since yesterday morning.

  • Jenny

    Can I ask please, is it just normal arnica from chemist you are giving or a pet version? Thank you using it for my shoulder injury and hoping it might help my old yorkie poo but she is only 5kg.

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