Until recently, Ayurvedic treatments like ashwagandha for dogs were uncommon. The Ayurvedic ingredient ashwagandha is an ancient remedy with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. The traditional herb also goes by Withania Somnifera, Indian Ginseng, or Indian Winter Cherry.
Owing to the calming and stress-reducing elements, ashwagandha qualifies as an adaptogen. Adaptogenic herbs help restore balance by counteracting the effects of external and internal stress on the body. Remember, knowing the benefits, risks, and dosage of ashwagandha for dogs is vital before adding it to your pup’s treatment regimen.
What is Ashwagandha for Dogs?
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb long revered for its natural healing properties. The plant contains health-boosting active ingredients such as withanolides and alkaloids. These components promote longevity and health in both humans and animals with the proper usage of the herb.
The herb is an adaptogen because it helps the dog’s body respond better to stress. Adaptogenic herbs help the body resist stress by balancing hormonal, enzymatic, and endocrine systems. It’s the state of bodily equilibrium ashwagandha promotes that makes this plant effective for anxious and nervous canines.
This nature-based solution for stressed dogs has far fewer long-term drawbacks than other medicines. It’s best to use ashwagandha explicitly made for dogs for maximum efficacy. The reason is that dogs require ashwagandha at lower doses and concentrations compared to humans. However, the herb is a low-risk supplement for most dogs.
Benefits of Ashwagandha for Dogs
Up to 70% of all dogs experience anxiety and exhibit stress-related behaviors. While genetics play an enormous role in dog predisposition to anxiety, nutrition and -supplements also influence the situation. A proper diet in anxious dogs and exercise improve the chemical structure of their brain, promoting their emotional and physical health.
But here are the key benefits ashwagandha for dogs:
Calms dogs down
Extensive research investigates the adaptogenic effects of ashwagandha root extract on dogs. Adaptogens like this herb promote homeostasis, supporting your pup's overall physical and emotional health. The herbs achieve internal bodily balance by managing internal stressors (hormonal, endocrine, adrenal) and external environmental stressors.
Ashwagandha for dogs lives up to the hype by being an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and an antidepressant. The extract does this by reducing other stress mediators in addition to cortisol, such as heat shock proteins. It minimizes hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity which regulates stress in dogs.
Ashwagandha helps dogs deal with everyday anxiety triggers like owners leaving for work, unexpected noises, and strangers. One study showed that dogs on ashwagandha supplements showed a decrease in urine cortisol, a primary stress hormone. The decline resulted in a statistically significant reduction in fear and anxiety symptoms.
Enhances the immune system
Ashwagandha promotes overall health in your pup in addition to reducing stress. It improves the immune system by strengthening cell-mediated immunity (an immune response that doesn’t include antibodies). Additionally, the supplement enhances brain and nervous system function in your pup.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the herb combat cellular damage due to environmental or internal free radicals. The enhanced immune system stands a better chance against bacterial infections, inflammation, and other diseases.
Helps reduce pain and general aches in dogs
Ashwagandha helps in rejuvenating and revitalizing the body. In the body rejuvenation process, dogs taking Ashwagandha reported statistically lower CBPI (Canine Brief Pain Inventory) severity and pain interference.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, ashwagandha can be beneficial in treating forms of arthritis and pain in the joints and bones in dogs. Additionally, ashwagandha relieves pain by preventing pain signals from traveling along the dog’s central nervous system.
Ashwagandha has antitumor properties
Ashwagandha is incredible at promoting your pup’s overall health, and its antitumor element is one way it does this. Research on animals such as mice shows that ashwagandha selectively kills tumor cells and has radio sensitizing effects. However, more dog-specific investigations on the antitumor effects of the extract are much-needed.
The antioxidant properties of ashwagandha are another persuasive reason for the herb’s antitumor properties. The extract inhibits cellular damage due to free radicals in the body, thereby preventing tumors. The best food for dogs with or without anxiety should be minimally processed to avoid health-related issues due to pro-inflammatory compounds.
The hemopoietic effect: Ashwagandha for dogs who are anemic
Ashwagandha is an effective hematinic (nutrients necessary in forming cellular components of blood called hematopoiesis). This is due to the large iron content in ashwagandha, causing the herb to have a powerful hemopoietic effect on dogs.
The free amino acids such as tyrosine, proline, alanine, and valine, along with the high iron content, benefit dogs with anemia. The hematinic properties enhance the immune system by promoting a healthy blood count.
How Do You Use Ashwagandha for Dogs?
You can use ashwagandha powder on your pup’s food to strengthen their immune system. If you feed your dog dry food, you can add some water to the kibble and then mix it with ashwagandha powder. If you feed wet or raw food, you can sprinkle a bit of the powder on the food.
It’s best to slowly introduce ashwagandha to your dog’s system in small doses to see how they react to the adaptogen. Manufacturers write the ashwagandha doses for different dog sizes on the product’s package. For this reason, it’s best to buy dog-specific ashwagandha powder as it comes with the instructions.
Is Ashwagandha Powder for Dogs Safe?
Most dogs tolerate ashwagandha well with little to no side effects making it safe for dog use. It’s best to stick to your vet’s dosage recommendations or the instructions on the package to avoid overdosing. Even if dogs exceed the dosages, they suffer minimal effects, but it’s best to be on the safe side.
More research on whether ashwagandha powder reacts to any medicines is essential. However, it’s best to consult your vet if your dog is on heavy medication. These drugs include immunosuppressants, blood thinners, sedatives, thyroid, and high blood pressure medications.
Risks or Side Effects of Ashwagandha for Dogs
Most dogs tolerate the herbal extract well with little to no observable side effects. Ashwagandha calms hyperactivity, regulates the immune system, and improves cognitive function with almost no reported adverse reactions. The supplement calms your dog without the effect of sedation or drowsiness.
However, in some dogs, large doses of ashwagandha can cause stomach upset and gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Stomach upset manifests as vomiting, diarrhea, and a reduction in appetite. Most of these GI issues resolve fairly quickly after you remove ashwagandha for the diet.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that promotes emotional relief in anxious dogs. More than 70% of dogs suffer from some anxiety disorder, and ashwagandha is a suitable alternative medicine. You can buy ashwagandha as a supplement or a powder, both of which you can add to your dog’s food.
Some pet parents prefer calming supplements like ashwagandha to relax their dogs over medicines like Valium and Xanax. Ashwagandha reduces symptoms of fear and anxiety in dogs without causing adverse side effects. Additionally, the adaptogen enhances the immune system and cognitive function in dogs, promoting your pup’s overall wellbeing.
Like all anti anxiety supplements, ashwagandha is not a substitute behavioral therapy. If your dog has severe anxiety and aggression issues, it’s best to consult an animal behaviorist for behavioral therapy. Ultimately, ashwagandha is an ideal supplement to add to your dog’s health regimen for physical and emotional wellbeing.