Astragalus Root for Dogs

Astragalus Root for Dogs

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

Astragalus Root for Dogs

As pet owners, we are always on the lookout for natural remedies to enhance the health and well-being of our canine companions. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in herbal supplements, and one such marvel that has gained attention is Astragalus.

Scientifically known as Astragalus membranaceus, it is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. Native to the regions of China and Mongolia, Astragalus has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and Western herbal medicine for thousands of years.

astragalus

This revered herb is characterized by its compound leaves, small yellow flowers, and distinctive finger-like root system, which serves as the primary source of its medicinal properties.

This article will explore Astragalus's herbal profile, the benefits, dosage, administration, considerations, and precautions of Astragalus for dogs.

Astragalus's Herbal Profile

Astragalus boasts an array of bioactive compounds, contributing to its therapeutic effects. The key constituents include:

  1. Polysaccharides: Known for their immunomodulatory properties, polysaccharides play a pivotal role in enhancing immune function.

  2. Saponins (Astragalosides): Exhibiting anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, saponins contribute to Astragalus's adaptogenic qualities as a stress reliever.

  3. Flavonoids: These are antioxidant compounds that help neutralize free radicals, safeguarding cells from oxidative stress.

  4. Amino Acids: Building blocks of proteins, essential for various physiological functions and overall health.

Benefits of Astragalus for Dogs

Astragalus provides many benefits for your canine companion, including:

astragalus for dogs

Immune System Support

Astragalus is renowned for its immune-boosting properties. A healthy immune system in dogs is crucial for avoiding infections and maintaining overall health. The polysaccharides found in Astragalus may stimulate the production of white blood cells, enhancing the body's ability to fight off pathogens and heal wounds.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation contributes to various health issues in dogs, including arthritis and allergies. Astragalus contains saponins, which possess anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to alleviate discomfort and promote joint health.

Antioxidant Protection

The presence of flavonoids in Astragalus can contribute to its antioxidant effects. Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralizing free radicals, which are harmful molecules that may damage cells and contribute to aging and illnesses such as kidney disease.

Energy and Vitality

Astragalus has adaptogenic properties, meaning it may help the body adapt to negative health stressors and restore balance. This can contribute to increased energy levels and maintaining vitality in dogs, especially those experiencing fatigue or undergoing recovery.

Cardiovascular Health

Some studies suggest that Astragalus has cardiovascular benefits. It may help regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow, promoting a healthy heart. This is particularly beneficial for aging dogs or those with heart conditions.

Respiratory Support

Astragalus has been traditionally used to support respiratory health. In dogs, it can help to alleviate symptoms of respiratory infections or conditions, making it a potential supplementary aid for dogs with a weak respiratory system.

Anti-Aging Properties

The adaptogenic nature of Astragalus, along with its antioxidant content, makes it a promising supplement, potentially promoting longevity and slowing down the aging process in senior dogs.

Using Astragalus with Existing Conditions

When considering the integration of Astragalus into your dog's wellness regimen, especially if your canine companion is already dealing with existing health conditions, a thoughtful and informed approach is paramount as illustrated below:

astragalus: what can it do for dogs?

Immune System Challenges

For dogs grappling with immune system challenges, Astragalus may be a supportive addition to their care routine. Conditions such as recurrent infections or autoimmune disorders usually benefit from Astragalus's immune-modulating effects. However, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian to determine the correct dose and ensure compatibility with any ongoing treatments.

Chronic Inflammatory Conditions

Astragalus's anti-inflammatory properties make it a potential aid for dogs dealing with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis. When used under medical guidance, it tends to alleviate inflammation and support joint health. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the treatment plan may be necessary based on your dog's response.

Respiratory Issues

Dogs with respiratory issues, such as chronic bronchitis or asthma, tend to find relief from Astragalus's traditional use in supporting respiratory health. Its ability to modulate immune responses and reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract is beneficial. However, close supervision and collaboration with a vet are crucial, especially for dogs on existing respiratory medications.

Cardiovascular Concerns

Astragalus's potential cardiovascular benefits make it intriguing for dogs with heart conditions or hypertension. It contributes to maintaining optimal blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular function. Nevertheless, consultation with your veterinarian is vital to ensure compatibility with certain medications and to determine a safe dosage.

Adaptogenic Balance

Dogs facing stressors, whether due to medical conditions or environmental factors, may benefit from Astragalus's adaptogenic qualities. It can help the body adapt to stress and promotes overall resilience. However, individual responses may vary, and any signs of adverse reactions should be promptly addressed with veterinary guidance.

Dosage and Administration

Astragalus for dogs comes in many forms and requires careful consideration of factors such as the dog's size, health condition, and the specific form you are using. The following guidelines offer a general overview, but individualized advice from a veterinary professional is essential:

astragalus dosage for dogs

Dosage Guidelines

  1. Capsules or Tablets:

  • Small Dogs (up to 20 lbs): 50-100 mg daily.

  • Medium Dogs (20-50 lbs): 100-200 mg per day.

  • Large Dogs (50+ lbs): 200-400 mg per day.

  1. Liquid Extracts (Tinctures):

  • Small Dogs: 1-2 drops per pound of body weight, once or twice daily.

  • Medium Dogs: 2-4 drops per pound of body weight, once or twice daily.

  • Large Dogs: 4-8 drops per pound of body weight, once or twice daily.

Note that tinctures are concentrated, so it's crucial to dilute them in water or food to ensure accurate dosing.

  1. Herbal Teas:

  • Small Dogs: 1-2 teaspoons, once daily.

  • Medium Dogs: 2-4 teaspoons, once daily.

  • Large Dogs: 1-2 tablespoons, once daily.

Herbal teas can be added to your dog's water or mixed with their food. Ensure the tea has cooled before administration. It's important to note that the concentration of active compounds in teas may be lower than in other forms.

Administration Tips

Astralagus for dogs can be administered in multiple ways. Below are some tips to guide your usage:

  • In food: Mix the recommended dose of Astragalus into your dog's regular food. This is often the easiest way to administer the supplement without resistance.

  • Homemade treats: Incorporate Astragalus powder into homemade treats. This adds a tasty element to the administration, making it a positive experience for your dog.

  • Pill Pockets: For dogs that are reluctant to take capsules or tablets, consider using pill pockets or hiding the supplement in a small quantity of their favorite treat.

  • Gradual Introduction: When introducing Astragalus or any new supplement, start with a lower dose and gradually increase it over several days. This allows your dog's system to adjust and helps monitor for any adverse reactions.

Considerations and Precautions

While Astralagus is generally safe for dogs and offers numerous health benefits, the following are considerations and precautions that dog owners should keep in mind to ensure the well-being of their pets:

astragalus root

Consultation with Your Veterinarian

Before starting any herbal supplement, consult with your veterinarian. They can provide personalized advice based on your dog's health history, existing conditions, and potential interactions with other medications.

Correct Dosage

Determining the correct dosage is critical. Dosage recommendations may vary based on factors such as your dog's size, age, and health status. Please rely on the guidance of your veterinarian to ensure your dog receives the appropriate amount for their specific needs.

Quality of the Supplements

Choose high-quality Astragalus supplements from reputable manufacturers. Look for products specifically formulated for dogs and free from additives, fillers, or contaminants that could be harmful.

Monitoring for Allergic Reactions

While Astragalus is generally well-tolerated, monitor your dog for any signs of allergic reactions or adverse effects. These may include itching, swelling, digestive issues, or changes in behavior. If such symptoms occur, discontinue use and consult your veterinarian promptly.

Interaction with Medications

Inform your veterinarian about any medications your dog is currently taking. Astragalus may interact with certain medications, affecting their efficacy or causing adverse effects. Their guidance is crucial to ensure compatibility with existing treatments.

Pregnancy and Nursing

For pregnant or nursing dogs, the safety of Astragalus has not been extensively studied. It's advisable to avoid using it during these periods unless recommended and monitored by a veterinarian.

Underlying Health Conditions

Dogs with specific conditions, such as autoimmune disorders or certain cancers, may require careful consideration when using Astragalus. Its immune-boosting properties may not be suitable for all situations, and consultation with a veterinarian is necessary.

Adaptation Period

When introducing this or any new supplement, start with a lower dose and gradually increase it over several days. This helps your dog's system adapt and allows you to observe for any negative reactions.

Individual Responses

Dogs, like humans, respond differently to herbal supplements. What works well for one dog may not be suitable for another. Pay attention to your dog's response and communicate any concerns or changes to your veterinarian.

Periodic Evaluation

Regularly reassess the need for Astragalus based on the health status of your dog. Periodic evaluations with your veterinarian can help determine if adjustments to the supplementation plan are necessary.

What to Look for in a Superior Astragalus Formula

Below is a guide on what to look for in a superior Astragalus formula for your dog:

astragalus root in bowl
  1. Organic and Sustainably Sourced: Opt for Astragalus supplements sourced from organic and sustainably harvested plants. This ensures the herb is free from pesticides, herbicides, and contaminants, providing a purer and safer product for your dog.

  2. Full-Spectrum Extract: Look for full-spectrum or whole herb extracts. These extracts retain the natural balance of active ingredients found in Astragalus, including polysaccharides, saponins, flavonoids, and fatty acids. This holistic approach ensures that your dog receives the broad range of beneficial compounds present in this powerful herb.

  3. Correct Species and Part of the Plant: Ensure that the supplement specifically uses Astragalus membranaceus, the species known for its medicinal properties. Additionally, the Astragalus root is the most potent part, so formulas using the root extract are preferred.

  4. Additive-Free and Low-Fillers: Avoid products with unnecessary additives, fillers, or artificial preservatives. High-quality Astragalus formulas should have minimal additional ingredients to ensure the purity and potency of this tonic herb.

  5. Positive Reviews and Reputation: Research the brand's reputation and read reviews from other pet owners who have used the product. Positive feedback and testimonials provide insights into the efficacy and safety of the Astragalus formula.

  6. Transparent Labeling: Look for products with transparent labeling, providing clear information about the concentration of Astragalus and any additional ingredients. Transparency is vital in making informed decisions about the supplement.

  7. Formulation for Dogs: Select formulas specifically designed for dogs. While some human supplements may be suitable for animals, those formulated with canine health in mind often have appropriate dosages and delivery methods.

The Bottom Line

Astragalus for dogs presents a natural and holistic approach to supporting their health and well-being. With its potent immune-boosting properties, this important tonic herb plays a pivotal role as it stimulates T cell activity, boosting white blood cell counts, and defending against any infection.

the bottom line on astragalus for dogs

Astragalus extends its benefits beyond immunity, contributing to circulatory health by improving liver function and supporting kidney function. As a crucial component with its origin in traditional Chinese medicine, this herb aids in maintaining the balance of the spleen and kidneys, promoting good digestion and contributing to the overall vitality of dogs.

For senior dogs, Astragalus becomes particularly relevant, offering a natural means to address age-related concerns. Furthermore, integrating Astragalus into a dog's diet provides support to the entire body, aiding in maintaining renal function and mitigating the risk of renal failure.

As pet owners strive for holistic wellness, Astragalus stands as a testament to the power of herbs in enhancing the resilience of our animals.

References:

  1. Luo JB, Zhang L, Fu M, Hong Y, Du XY, Cheng GQ, Xia JY, Dong H. Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) supplement in beagle dogs after castration: Effects on the haematology and serum chemistry profiles, immune response, and oxidative stress status. Vet Med Sci. 2023 Jan;9(1):98-110. doi: 10.1002/vms3.1054. Epub 2022 Dec 30. PMID: 36583959; PMCID: PMC9857013. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36583959/

  2. Yuan CH, Liu YF, Cheng Y. [Experimental study on effect of Astragalus extractum on canine isolated kidney during hypothermia perfusion and preservation]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2003 Apr;23(4):291-3. Chinese. PMID: 12764915. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12764915/

  3. Qiu, Hehui & Cheng, Guilin & Xu, Jianqin & Zhang, Nuowei & Liu, Fenghua & Zhu, Xiaoyu & Zhao, Juan & Zhang, Yujie. (2010). Effects of Astragalus Polysaccharides on Associated Immune Cells and Cytokines in Immunosuppressive Dogs. Procedia in Vaccinology. 2. 26-33. 10.1016/j.provac.2010.03.006. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247368421_Effects_of_Astragalus_Polysaccharides_on_Associated_Immune_Cells_and_Cytokines_in_Immunosuppressive_Dogs

  4. Proflax. (2019, June 14). The Benefits of Astragalus. Retrieved from https://proflax.co.uk/blogs/herbal-section/the-benefits-of-astragalus#:~:text=Astragalus%20can%20greatly%20improve%20your,illness%20by%20improving%20liver%20function

  5. Stupple, L. (2023, March 9). The Benefits of Astragalus for Dogs. Nectar of the Dogs. Retrieved from https://nectarofthedogs.com.au/blogs/dog-parenting-made-easier/the-benefits-of-astragalus-for-dogs

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AUTHOR

Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.


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