What is the correct dose for herbs for your pet?
Ever notice how different the recommended doses of herbs can be, depending on where you read the information? There is also a difference between the dose for a tincture, or the powdered herb, or the herbal extract. And when you read about extracts, sometimes it is as low as 1:2 and other times as high as 1:6. And should you use the herb or something like silymarin, that is a major component of milk thistle, but not the only one.
If you are using a product that is made by a company that is a member of NASC, you automatically are using a product that has known ingredients and that reports bad reactions. That is because all members must report their product sources to NASC, which double checks to see whether the reported ingredients match their claims. In addition, all members must report all bad reactions to NASC. For single ingredient products, such as fish oil, these can be cross checked with other companies using the same ingredient. That makes it easy to see any pattern of toxicity that may be emerging. If a dose is too high, it will show up when the information is analyzed. So NASC member companies have a good warning system to let them know if their dose is too high.
But what if it is too low? How can you tell? There are two groups to rely on for this information. Both groups actually use these herbs in animals. Companies that are founded by people with herbal training, who have practices of their own, have had actual hands-on experience with the products that they sell. Veterinarians who have education in the use of herbs have experience with more than one brand of herbs. If you have a holistic veterinarian who recommends a specific brand of herbs, there is usually a good reason behind that recommendation. That brand works the best for them. They may have had some difficulty with other brands. The recommended brand may be more expensive than others, but there is usually a reason for that expense.
If, on the other hand, they do not specify a brand, be sure you know whether they are talking about a tincture, pure herb, or herbal extract, as well as learning the proper dose. If you find something less expensive, ask your veterinarian before buying it. Sometimes it matters, and sometimes it does not.
If you are relying on books written by veterinary herbalists or holistic veterinarians, it is good to have a library of more than one book. Compare recommendations. If they are the same or very close, then that dose should be reliable. But if they are very different, find out why before blindly choosing one. An older book may have been written before we became aware of a dangerous side effect. Most veterinarians had no idea that grapes or raising could be lethal for some dogs until somebody finally figured it out and published it in a veterinary journal. The same goes for some herbs that people may have no reaction to.
We will not know more until more research is done to determine the best dose for animals. They are not little people in fur coats - especially cats, whose livers work differently than ours do. The Foundation supports research that will help unlock the door to proper use of herbs in dogs, cats, horses, and livestock. You can help by supporting the Foundation. In the meantime, ask your holistic veterinarian.