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 should NOT 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.

PLEASE READ: NEVER use arnica creams or gels around the eyes or mouth areas.  According to this article from Dr.  Greg Tilford, you must take precautions to not allow your dog to lick off any creams or gels since preparations of Arnica can be toxic when consumed internally.  He states that this is even more important if internal bleeding and/or inflammation are present.

NEVER apply arnica prior to any surgical procedure.

Reasons to Use

For sore muscles and bruising, the best use of arnica can be in it’s topical form  CAUTION THOUGH: as stated above, TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO NOT ALLOW YOUR DOG TO LICK THE CREAM OR GEL OFF.  READ THE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES ABOVE BEFORE APPLYING!  

This herb has dramatic and demonstrable effects in the time period immediately after injury occurs when using the gel, cream or oil by 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 and if unsure, talk to your vet before applying.

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 213 comments
  • Shirley

    Hello Janie,

    Can you please tell me why it is important that Arnica Montana 30C Pellets should only be administered to a dog within 15 minutes of eating or drinking water? I was instructed to give my dog three pellets twice daily for 7-10 days after having dental work with a bladder infection. I was instructed to give my dog these pellets “with or without food”. My Chihuahua would consume a high volume of water immediately after ingesting these Pellets with home made wet food. Within a two week period he became lethargic, was stumbling on his feet and laying on his back with his feet up in the air. I was then instructed to stop “all” meds. He then suffered three brain seizures and was unable to stand or walk. As a result he had to be euthanized. Prior to this, he had no history of these symptoms. Can you please offer your opinion so I can put some closure to this and may help others from suffering a similar heart breaking situation. Thank you!

    • janie

      Hi Shirley:

      I am so sorry to hear about your tragic loss. That’s terrible. Was he taking any other medicines? What about flea and tick products around the same time or vaccines?

      Homeopathy medicines such as Arnica are typically very safe. The rule of thumb for taking homeopathy meds is that it will either work in three days or it won’t. Sometimes they are prescribed longer than the three days as in your case. Homeopathic pellets are very diluted and typically contain such small amounts of arnica to cause any health problems.

      My concern would be more concerned with the anesthesia and the surgery Shirley. Read some of the stories here and the complications that dogs had after the anesthesia.

      I really wish I could of more help. Again, I’m so very sorry for your loss.


      • Shirley

        Hello Janie,

        Thank you for your response. In answer to your question – the only meds that my dog was prescribed at the time of taking Boiron ARNICA 30C was Hypericum Perforatum 30C, Baytril 50 mg, in addition to Western Bladder Pellets 30C for bladder health.

        Over the years my dog had previously been placed under anesthetic on more than one occasion and typically recovered quickly as he did after this recent dental work. His pre-op bloodwork was normal with the exception of an x-ray which revealed a highly suspected bladder infection. It was only after he was prescribed ARNICA 30C eight days after the dental work was performed that he developed the previously described symptoms. His bloodwork performed two weeks after he started taking ARNICA 30C suggested organ failure.

        It was only after taking ARNICA 30C my dog suffered three consecutive brain seizures. During the third episode he was unable to stand on his feet and appeared to be paralyzed from the neck down. My dog was also in respiratory distress. As a result he was euthanized at an Emergency Vet Hospital 16 days after taking ARNICA 30C.

        BOIRON the maker of ARNICA 30C states on their Website that these Pellets should only be administered under the tongue 15 minutes before or after ingesting food and water. Additional research comments from other reliable sources indicates the same. It is also commented from a very reliable source with respect to the dillution ratio for ARNICA 30C as follows: – “although it seems counterintuitive, the more diluted the substance, the stronger the remedy”.

        In consideration of the foregoing information my two questions to you are as follows:

        1. Did the “high volume of water consumption” before and immediately after my dog consumed his home-made wet dog food increase the toxicity of ARNICA 30C which was absorbed through the lining of the stomach combined with food and water as opposed through the membranes under the tongue with no food or water for atleast 15 minutes?

        2. Most importantly, did excessive water consumption increase the dilution ratio in excess of 30C which resulted in the sudden death of my male Chihuahua?

        Your opinion would be greatly appreciated! This may prevent a similar devastating and heart breaking incident from happening to another beloved Pet.

        • janie

          Hi Shirley:

          You might want to give Boiron a call if you’re concerned about Arnica playing a role in your little boy’s death. I personally don’t think it was Arnica. One of the side effects of Baytril is convulsions and seizures. Homeopathy medicine above 4C is considered very, very safe and used to compliment traditional medicines or just given by themselves.

          It’s always recommended for any homeopathy pellet to be given under the tongue for quicker absorption and usually 15 minutes before or after eating. It’s a recommendation.

          I wish I could be more help. I’m sorry about what happened to your little guy, it’s terrible Shirley.


  • Rae

    Heya Janie
    Was wondering if you can assist & advice me whether I could give my just about 6yr old rotti who has just had his second ACL hind leg operated & plated on, Arnica & Ruta to assist with the swelling / healing process but has also just been diagnosed with heart failure (not enough blood pumping through) 🙁 Any advice would be much appreciated… Thank you

    • janie

      Hi Rae:

      I’m very sorry to hear about your rotti. Six is still pretty young though. What concerns me is that your boy has CHF at this young age. Can I ask when your dog was last vaccinated and how often he was vaccinated and for what?

      Arnica pellets may help, but quite honestly having just dealt with my own dog with a completely torn ACL on one leg and a slight tear on the the other leg’s ACL, I would go a different route. I did do the surgery on Abby but instead used a brace from OrthoDog and also used a Gelatin Protein made by Great Lakes. You can learn more here. She was diagnosed around Christmas last year and will wear the brace for a year. She no longer needs it all day, but wears it when we walk. She wore it all day for roughly 5 months. I wouldn’t allow her to run, etc. Abby is almost healed I believe. She is completely walking with no pain or limp. I still don’t let her run yet, although she wants to.

      The gelatin will not only help with pain, but will definitely help with the healing process.

      With regards to the heart (I would avoid vaccines like the plague with his condition) adding COQ10 is a must and I would also feed a very high protein diet of meat and greens. NOT kibble or canned junked food. Raw would be best or partially raw anyway. He needs a high protein diet. I would also include Bonnie & Clyde’s Fish Oil and Hawthorn Berry for the heart.

      I hope this helps. Also, avoid chemical flea and tick products and use natural.


  • Donna Brossette

    My Corgi has a torn ACL as well as arthritis in her back. She is 10 years old and the vet wants to do surgery and put an TPLO plate in her leg. She has a TPLO plate in her other leg due to a torn ACL when she was 3 yrs old but due to her age, I am a little hesitant to have her anesthetized. She walks with a limp but at times, she walks and runs perfect when she sees another dog, cat or bird…she has the true Corgi “herding” instinct. My friend recommended Arnica and says she gives her dog 30c 2X a week but I don’t see any option for “liquid” Arnica. Right now I am giving her CBD which seems to help a little. What do you suggest….

    • janie

      Hi Donna:

      I’m sorry to hear about your old girl. I’ll recommend that same things that I do for my own dog that has a partial torn ACL and a completely torn ACL in the other leg.

      Use the Cruciate Care Knee Brace from Ortho Dog here. This will help to keep the knee in position. Keep in on throughout the day and especially when walking.

      Read this article here on using Gelatin Protein for pain. I recommend using Great Lakes Gelatin/Collagen Protein for pain. Give twice daily with meals. It works very well.

      Use the brace and the gelatin for a year. You can give the gelatin ongoing. Our own girl is doing very, very well. Little pain and ready to run after 6 months. BUT, we will not allow her yet. Keep it around a year of watching and monitoring her running and jumping.

      I hope this helps.

      YourOldDog Administrator

  • Belinda

    We have a 3-week old puppy who fell and hit his head, apparently pretty hard, on concrete. He was unresponsive for about 5 minutes, and we took him to the vet who told us there was probably damage in his spinal cord or swelling on his brain. She sent us home with synthetic steroids which we have been using twice a day for the last 2 days. He is past the critical point and on his way to recovery, but I would like to switch to a natural product to replace the steroids and to provide probiotics to combat any side effects from them.
    Is arnica the best option? If so, it would probably have to be taken in a tablet or pill form. What is your recommended dosage and for how often? Thanks so much for your time!

    • janie

      Hi Belinda:

      I’m sorry to hear about your puppy.

      I wouldn’t use Arnica for his injuries or recovery. I would look more to Curcumin (turmeric) due to it’s anti-inflammatory and you can read my article here. I would also include vitamin C daily for pain and immunity, but you have to work up to the max dosage or your pup WILL get diarrhea. The dosage for a pup under 25 pounds is 100mg daily. Work up to this slowly and use in the form of sodium ascorbate. If your pup experiences stomach upset or diarrhea, back it down to 50mg instead. This dosage will change as he grows and gets older.

      A healthy kibble free diet is HIGHLY recommended!


      • Belinda

        Thanks, Janie!

        • janie

          My pleasure Belinda.


  • Julia

    Hi Janie,

    Thank you so much for all of this amazing information! I was wondering if arnica can be used after dental surgery? Our Boston terrier that we have rescued has many abscessed teeth that are loose and need to be removed unfortunately. She has had terrible reactions to anti-inflammatory pain medications like Metacam in the past and we generally prefer natural, holistic treatments. I’m imagining there will be open wounds in her mouth and wasn’t sure if that’s one of the situations where arnica pellets are not appropriate?

    Thank you so much!

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