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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  • 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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