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Slippery Elm: How Can it Benefit Your Dog?


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Because of side effects associated with herbs and uncertainties concerning dosages, holistic or natural approaches to managing your dog’s health often require thorough examination. An exception to this scenario is the use of slippery elm, an entirely safe and non-toxic herb.

Slippery elm can help your dog in various ways, from settling the stomach to healing their wounds. For the information you need to determine if it’s an herb that can be beneficial to your canine, read on.

What is slippery elm? Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is the soft, stringy part of the inner bark of a slippery elm tree. The easiest way to use it is to purchase it in capsule form. It can be ground into a fine powder and mixed into food for easy ingestion. Its use can help quell an upset stomach, making this herb an excellent choice to give to a recuperating dog.

How can slippery elm benefit my dog?

There are multiple benefits that slippery elm offers. The primary benefits of slippery elm are as follows:

  • Demulcent: mucilage-forming and soothing qualities

  • Tonic: promotes healthy body systems

  • Astringent: drying, binding, and constricting effect

  • Emollient: protects and soothes skin

  • Antioxidant: removes oxidizing agents from the body

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: reduces inflammation within the body

  • Nutritive: provides specific food nutrients

For gastrointestinal upset, slippery elm works as a stomach soother; a natural type of Kaopectate. Because slippery elm has a significant mucilage content, it coats and lubricates the stomach lining, settling it down in the process. As such, slippery elm is often used to address canine ulcers, colitis, and other inflammatory bowel disorders.

Slippery elm is high in fiber, so it can help relieve both constipation and diarrhea in your furry companion. It also alleviates vomiting and nausea in dogs who may be suffering from non-gastrointestinal diseases and ailments.

For inflammatory conditions, slippery elm can relieve the inflammation in dogs suffering from arthritis and joint issues, lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis, and throat and kidney ailments.

This particular herb also soothes the bladder lining for dogs with cystitis and bladder infections, as the magnesium in slippery elm addresses elevated urinary pH and bacterial infections.

For pain relief, slippery elm contains natural pentosans, or complex sugars, that can be used for anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant purposes.

For topical wounds, slippery elm makes an excellent paste to apply to external wounds your dog may have, including boils, burns, wounds, and skin inflammations. 

How do I administer slippery elm to my dog?

Administration of slippery elm depends on how you intend to apply it to your dog, internally or externally.

For internal administration, consult your vet. Typically, you would give your dog half an opened capsule (per 10 pounds) mixed with cold water. This herb can absorb many times its weight in water, so make sure you add enough water to create a gruel-like substance. Its sweet, mild taste should be well-tolerated by your dog.

Be sure to check the quality of the slippery elm you are using to make sure it is still efficacious. It should be a light grayish-tan and taste mildly sweet. Check the herb daily for freshness; stale slippery elm will be darker and taste bitter over time. Don’t use any slippery elm that looks, smells, or tastes bad.

Timing is also critical in making this herb work efficiently for your dog. If you intend to use slippery elm long-term, give it to your pooch separately from meals and other medications at least an hour. Give another dose at bedtime so the slippery elm can work undisturbed at night.

With gastrointestinal issues, give your dog slippery elm 30 to 60 minutes before, immediately with, or right after meals. Upper gastrointestinal ailments will respond better if this herb is ingested before meals. If your pup has lower digestive issues, like constipation, they will benefit from slippery elm ingestion with or right after eating their food.

For external administration, and in particular with skin inflammations, create a paste from the slippery elm by combining it with cold water. Smear it onto the areas of concern: hot spots, scratches, rashes, insect bites, superficial wounds, or ulcerated injuries. The application will form a natural bandage and will stay in place for several hours. 

What are the side effects of slippery elm?

Slippery elm is a safe and non-toxic herb and does not have any direct side effects in canines. Because of its mucilage quality, however, it needs to be given separately from other medications your dog may be taking. Rarely, dogs may show an allergy to the herb.

Make sure that your dog takes their other medications 1 to 2 hours before giving them slippery elm. The herb’s mucilaginous coating can inhibit the absorption of other drugs into your dog’s bloodstream.

Ask your veterinarian for advice on the best times in which to give your dog medications and slippery elm treatments.

Consult your vet

Slippery elm is a safe, natural herb that you can give to your dog to help relieve multiple internal and external issues and ailments. It’s an easy remedy for a host of problems, from hot spots to stomach upset to pain relief. Remember to check with your veterinarian before beginning any new herbal regimen for your dog.

Injuries and illnesses can be expensive to treat. If you're interested in exploring natural healthcare for your pet under a vet's supervision, check out our pet insurance comparison tool. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like FIGO and Nationwide.

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