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Heal! Miracle cure, or herbal myth?

Researchers at Colorado State University are studying the effectiveness of herbal supplements for dogs — sales of which are taking off, despite there not being much proof of whether they really work.

“Research has indicated that herbal supplements may be beneficial to humans, but that really doesn’t tell us anything about dogs,” said Narda Robinson, the leader of the research team. “There are a lot of people making money without any proof these products work.” Robinson said.

Not only may the products not work, she said, there is a risk they could cause gastric ulcers, kidney and liver damage, and diarrhea.

The Denver Post reported on the study Saturday, focusing on Edward a 4-year-old golden retriever who has had a bad hip since he was 6 months old. He’s one of 36 dogs participating in the trial, with half getting the herbal dose and the rest a placebo. Once a week for five weeks, Edward has visited the CSU vet teaching hospital for tests.

In search of some relief, Edward’s owner, Krystal Reagan, enrolled the retriever in the clinical trial at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biosciences, where dogs are receiving a supplement that includes juniper, goldenrod, dandelion, meadow sweet, willow bark and cranberry.

The herbal combination being tested is marketed by RZN Nutraceuticals Inc., which is paying for the $72,000 study — but researchers say that won’t influence the results.

“We have complete scientific independence, and whatever the findings, we are going to publish them,” Robinson said.

While the results won’t be in for a while, Edward, who has always struggled to get into the car, jumped into the back seat. “Now that was a surprise,” his owner said.


Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time December 3, 2008 at 10:41 am

I dunno. Willow bark=aspirin. Willow bark has been used as an herbal remedy for pain and fever across the centuries and by many cultures. The people who developed aspirin (more than a hundred years ago) knew that, and aspirin contains basically the same chemical ingredients. Plain old aspirin a fine remedy for arthritis discomfort, and vets know that as well as human’s physicians do. They can also take a look at the dog’s age and weight and prescribe a proper dosage. It actually works better in dogs because they haven’t had a lifetime of popping aspirin tablets.

You absolutely cannot use other human pain remedies in dogs or cats (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.). They are generally poisonous. But a *vet supervised* regimen of aspirin can perk an older or uncomfortable dog right up. I don’t have a clue about cats.

Comment from carey
Time December 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Instead of regular aspirin, I highly recommend Ascripton (malox coated aspirin) or baby aspirin as it’s easier on a dog’s stomach.