In this article on our ongoing series on herbs for dogs, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of wormwood.

Wormwood is native to Europe but has been cultivated throughout the Northern part of our world and has made its way to North America to be found in many wild areas.

It is most commonly discovered along roadways or on the edges of fields.

It has shown up in other places too, like vacant lots and even waste sites.

WormwoodWormwood blooms from June to August and is relatively easy to grow. It only requires average soil, full sunlight and watering occasionally.

Most wormwood plants can live in excess of 10 years. They can be harvested at any time of the day, but the most ideal time for collection is a summer afternoon because the heat impacts the potency of wormwood.

Wormwood smells like pine and sage and has leaves of a gray-green color. There are small, yellow-ball flowers in loose clusters on the top branches of the plant and the entire wormwood plant can grow to the size of a small bush, generally about four feet tall.

There are a number of medical applications for dogs when it comes to wormwood and the plant’s antiseptic and anti-fungal properties are certainly worth noting. It also can function as an astringent and can expel worms, as the name would suggest.

Therapeutic Use

The leaves of wormwood are used in various medical applications, with a tea or the dried leaves as the most popular methods.

  • Wormwood is most frequently associated with the expulsion of worms. The plant has been used for hundreds of years as an herbal worming agent to expel tapeworms, roundworms and threadworms.

The trouble is that it contains a series of volatile oils, bitter principles and tannins that require it to be used with care on your dog. Overuse of wormwood can irritate the liver and kidneys, while some cases of overuse result in damage to the nervous system. The issue here is using the right amount; too little is ineffective, while too much could cause problems.

What I would suggest is weighing the risks: if your dog has an immediate need to rid the body of a parasite, consider wormwood.

  • If the above instance applies, use wormwood as follows: add up to a quarter of a teaspoon of wormwood in its dried herbal form to the dog’s food OR use about one-eighth of a teaspoon of a low-alcohol tincture daily at mealtime for every 30 pounds of your dog’s weight. Do not use wormwood for more than three consecutive days. Some dogs may not take wormwood because of its bitter taste, so you may want to consider “concealing” it in either a treat or a gel capsule.
  • Wormwood can also be used as a skin rinse for its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.
  • Apparently for dogs with cancer, scientists in Seattle have discovered that an extract from the wormwood plant can actually search out and destroy several types of cancer cells while leaving normal cells healthy. If your dog has cancer, I recommend that you read more about this amazing breakthrough here.

This natural herbal dewormer kit for pets with worms makes it easy by breaking it down for you in a 2 part process for elimination and maintenance.  Includes both Wormwood & Blackwalnut.

For more recommendations on eliminating worms, please see my page on Black Walnut.

Preventative Measures

wormwood uses

As mentioned above, wormwood can be problematic if overused. An alcohol preparation of wormwood should NEVER be used on animals who suffer from seizures, kidney problems or liver problems.

Wormwood should also not be used by pregnant or lactating animals.

Reasons to Use

Wormwood is widely available at many herb retailers and can be grow with relative ease on your own. Its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties are interesting, of course, and the aforementioned rinse is useful. As a worm treatment, it’s a bit of a mixed bag because it can create more trouble than it solves.

Unlike bee balm and other herbs, I can’t simply offer a blanket recommendation for wormwood. There are too many risks involved for that.

However, it can be a useful herb when used sparingly and within reason.

References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen

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Showing 12 comments
  • Melissa
    Reply

    I was told to use woodworm by a Veterinarian for 30 days for my dog. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma about month ago. Is this recommended? No seizures, liver or kidney issues, but he is 10 and I’m a little concerned because you stated not to use for more then 3 consecutive days.

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Melissa:

      Is your vet a holistic vet? If so, he or she is most likely using this method based on the discovery that a form of wormwood called Artemisinin can tremendously help with cancer vs using chemo therapy.

      I wish that I could help more, but I don’t know much about this. I recommend that you join this particular chat group over on yahoo and discuss with others who are already using it for their own dogs.

      The key is to keep the immune system strong. Lots of good food, probiotics and regular daily exercise. I also recommend adding a a good green supplement to his daily diet Melissa whether it be spirulina, chlorella or barley grass (if he starts to scratch using the grass, stop and switch to another).

      I hope this helps in some small way and I wish you and your old boy the very best.

      Janie

  • Paula
    Reply

    The Artemisinin of interest regarding cancer comes from Sweet Wormwood/Chinese Wormwood/Sweet Annie or Artemisia annua.

  • Terry
    Reply

    Hi Janie,

    We have a 14 year old Akita / Husky mix female dog in good shape for her age. I noticed roundworm in her stools yesterday. She has never had this before and I would like to treat it with Wormwood. I will need to get a current, accurate weight on her but she is approx. 90 lbs. I read the dosage section of your blog but am still a bit confused as to how to make the potion in it’s correct form. Ideally I would like to give it to her in a treat. Can you give me a recipe guide line for both liquid and dry variations Please. Very happy to have discovered your website, my wife and I share your Philosophy regarding Holistic care and a healthy life style for your pets.

    Thank You,
    Terry

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Terry:

      From what I understand, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms can only be seen under a microscope. However, tapeworms can be found on the surface of the stool and even around the anus of the dog (or cat). I could be wrong, but I think this is correct. Anyway, is there a reason that you specifically want to use wormwood? The reason that I ask is that there are safer, easier alternatives to wormwood. I know my page says how to safely use it, but I’m more comfortable recommending organic pumpkin seeds to do the job.

      Here’s some instructions to use those: Purchase only raw, organic pumpkin seeds. You can feed them as a treat in whole form, if he’ll eat them. DON’T PURCHASE THE SALTED GROCERY STORE SEEDS. You need the raw, organic kind. Instead of giving as a treat, I would recommend grinding one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight and feeding with his food, twice daily until the worms are gone.

      I prefer to steer dog owners away from wormwood when possible. It can cause a lot of problems for the dog when not used correctly. Plus, there’s easier options.

      I hope you understand.

      Janie

  • Terry
    Reply

    Hi Janie,

    Thank You, I Really appreciate you sharing other safer alternatives. I have no preference on what remedy will work and the safer the better. Unfortunately the available information on this subject is limited, confusing and scary. Not wanting to blindly trust a tradition vet, I always try to do as much research as I can to be as well informed as possible.
    This Pumpkin Seed solution sounds great! It was listed as a possible remedy but again the confusing way it’s ranked makes it seem like a lesser solution. I am familiar with nuts and seeds in their raw, organic and unprocessed condition. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of purchasing them in that state.
    I think your recommendation of incorporating the ground product in to her meals, is the best approach. I will post again with an update as to her progress. Thanks again for your helpful insights, this is exactly the type of information I was hoping to find. I will spread the word to other pet owners / lovers about this site.

    Sincerely,

    Terry

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Terry:

      You’re welcome. I hope it works for your old girl. By all means, please post back and let me know how it goes with the worms and pumpkin seed. I really appreciate you sharing my site with those you know Terry. “Thank you!” 🙂

      Janie

  • Tony
    Reply

    Hi Janie,

    I’m looking for an alternative natural worm preventative that I can give my puppy. You’ve stated that wormwood and black walnut can be toxic if used incorrectly and/or for a prolonged period. I live in MA and would need to use some type of preventative for 6-7 months. What can you recommend that is a safe and effective, and in what dosage? Any help would be truly appreciated.

    Tony

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Tony:

      If you’re a little nervous about dosing the wormwood yourself, I would try this Wormwood-Blackwalnut 2 part kit which makes it easy by breaking it down for you.

      However, I think you should check out my article on Black Walnut which offers ideas as well. You can read it here.

      Hope this helps.

      Janie

      • Tony
        Reply

        Would it be safer and just as effective if I used raw, organic pumpkin seeds? My dog is just a puppy. I’m not sure if that makes a difference.

        Thank you for you help

        Tony

  • Zoey
    Reply

    Do you crack the shells off the pumpkin seeds before grinding them an where’s a good place to buy get raw seeds.can I dehidrate some my self after carving pumpkin s

    • janie
      Reply

      You can purchase unshelled, unsalted pumpkin seeds and their pretty cheap. We have a large grocery store that carries a variety of things like that. But, you can also UNSHELL them yourself and use them.

      Hope this helps.

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