Slippery Elm: Its Use in Canines

by Naomi Millburn
    Slippery elm is claimed to have calming properties.

    Slippery elm is claimed to have calming properties.

    Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

    Slippery elm is the name of a herb that is sometimes used to manage digestive woes in canines. If your pet has colitis, constipation or diarrhea, for example, it might be able to provide him with some relief. Before giving your dog any form of treatment, get the explicit consent of his veterinarian.

    Slippery Elm and Digestive Issues

    Slippery elm herbal supplements are refined into powder form from the bark of slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) trees. It appears in powder form. (See Ref. 1, page 132) Slippery elm consists of tannins that decrease inflammation in dogs dealing with gastrointestinal troubles. The mucilage elements of slippery elm are beneficial for assisting flow in the digestive tract, therefore making bowel movements go much smoother. Slippery elm is frequently used to stop constipation in canines. The slippery aspect of the name describes the sticky substance that develops when the herb touches water. It's available for purchase at health-oriented grocery stores.

    Slippery Elm and Safety

    The herb is considered to be safe, according to veterinarian Shawn Messonier, author of "8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog, but it's crucial to consult a veterinarian prior to using it on your pooch. No exceptions. Some dogs are allergic to the herb, although they're uncommon. Slippery elm is often appreciated because its responses in pets are rather moderate, according to veterinarians Messonier, Cheryl Yuill and Steve Marsden, reporting on the VCA Animal Hospitals website.

    Outer Bark Caution

    Slippery elm is made using inner bark from trees, rather than outer bark. Outer bark isn't generally seen in commercial slippery elm formulas, but it's important to be aware of. The herb's outer bark is sometimes associated with triggering miscarriage in expectant female pets. It's also sometimes linked to gastrointestinal and urinary issues in pets. Make sure your vet always gives you the OK on a specific type of slippery elm product, and appropriate dosage, rather than simply giving you permission to use the herb on your dog in general.

    Giving Your Pet Slippery Elm

    Your veterinarian can instruct you how to properly give your dog slippery elm. Some factors influence dosage amounts in slippery elm. Bigger dogs, for example, generally need larger amounts than small or midsize canines, according to Susan Pitcairn and veterinarian Richard Pitcairn, authors of "Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats." The vet can also tell you how often specifically to give your pet slippery elm. Slippery elm is frequently used to handle tummy woes in cats, as well. Outside of dogs and cats, slippery elm's safety with regard to other animals is not fully certain.

    Bites and Abscesses

    Use of slippery elm isn't exclusive to canine tummy problems. Slippery elm occasionally serves in topical form for the management of bites, abscesses and wounds in dogs. In such situations, the herb is typically employed as a paste. Speak to a vet before using the herb topically on your cutie.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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