Slippery elm is a herb that has been used for centuries as a healing salve by Native Americans (and later American soldiers). It was also a common remedy for digestive upset, coughs and more.
There are limited studies on the benefits of slippery elm but it’s presence throughout history has made it a popular remedy for people. And it turns out you can use it for your dog as well.
Today I’ll tell you why slippery elm should be in your dog’s first aid kit and how to give it.
1. Digestive Issues
Slippery elm is a demulcent … it secretes a substance called mucilage that feels almost oily to the touch. Mucilage is mucoprotective that creates a protective film, which coats the mucous membranes in your dog’s digestive tract. Slippery elm also helps stimulate natural mucus production, which has the same effect.
Slippery elm also have anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce swelling and pain. This is attributed to the antioxidants in slippery elm.
- Eases inflammation
- Soothes irritation
- Lubricates the digestive tract
- Relaxes muscles
All of which helps promote easier and more regular bowel movements.
Slippery elm is also recommended for other digestive health issues including …
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) including Crohn's and ulcerative colitis
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- The transition from kibble to raw
2. Leaky Gut And Inflammation
Leaky gut is a digestive issue that deserves to be talked about separately because it’s a growing epidemic among dogs.
Leaky gut happens when the lining of your dog’s digestive tract gets irritated and inflamed. The junctions between the cells that line your dog’s gut open up and bacteria, toxins and undigested food to leak into your dog’s bloodstream.
Over time, this can lead to chronic inflammation throughout your dog’s body. And chronic inflammation drives chronic diseases like …
- Autoimmune disease
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune diseases
If your dog has a leaky gut, you want to get your dog’s gut inflammation under control to help repair the gut lining.
The mucilage and anti-inflammatory properties of slippery elm can do just that. They help protect the gut lining and reduce inflammation so it can heal.
According to the book Herbs for Pets by M Wolfe Tiflord and G Tilford, slippery elm can help tighten the lining of the gut, which helps keep the cells of the lining close together to prevent leakage. This is thanks to slippery elm’s astringent properties (dry and tighten tissue).
3. Urinary Tract Infection
Many believe that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a result of bacteria but … many times it’s caused by inflammation.
It’s suggested that slippery elm can help soothe this inflammation (the same way it helps with the digestive tract). This may help reduce discomfort and potentially heal UTIs.
4. Kennel Cough
You may have noticed that some lozenges and cough syrup contain slippery elm. That’s because slippery elms mucilage coats the throat to ease sore throats and coughs.
While you shouldn’t toss your dog a lozenge (it can contain other ingredients that are harmful to your pup), adding slippery elm to their food may be just what they need when they have …
- Kennel cough
- Respiratory infections
5. Skin Health
Because slippery elm is an astringent that heals and tightens tissue, it can help speed up wound healing. Antioxidants that reduce inflammation also help with this process.
Traditionally, it has been used for:
- Oozing infections
How To Give Slippery Elm To Your Dog
Slippery elm most often comes as a supplement or powder. Before I talk about how to use them, here are a few cautions ...
- Slippery elm in danger of being over harvested - try to find a sustainably harvested product
- Dogs can be allergic to slippery elm. It is rare but be sure to slowly work your way to a full dose and watch for signs of an allergic reaction. Symptoms include hives, diarrhea, itchiness and vomiting.
- Do NOT use slippery elm for pregnant dogs
- The outer bark of slippery elm can cause irritation in the digestive and urinary tract. This should not be in any products you buy.
- Give slippery elm 3 hours before or after other supplements or medications. It’s mucilage can affect absorption.
Slippery Elm Powder
If you use slippery elm powder, you can give your dog ¼ tsp per 10 lbs of body weight. Mix it into your dog’s food.
To use for wounds, mix slippery elm powder with hot water until it forms a paste and let it cool. You may find the paste feels oily to the touch - this is the mucilage. Spread the paste on a clean cloth and apply it to the wound.
Slippery Elm Syrup
Slippery elm powder can also be used to make a syrup.
- Mix 1 tsp of powder in a cup of cold water in a pot
- Bring to a boil as you stir the mixture
- Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes (continue to stir)
- Remove from heat and add 1 tbsp of honey
- Let cool
- Add it to your dog’s food
Under 25 lbs … 1 to 2 tbsp four times daily
25-50 lbs … 2 to 4 tbsp four times daily
50 lbs and over … ¼ to ½ cup four times daily
If you use a supplement, follow the dosage instructions on the package. You can use products for humans, but check the ingredient list to make sure all of the ingredients are safe for your dog. When you give a human supplement to your dog, assume the dosing is based on someone who is 150 lbs and adjust for your dog’s weight.
If the supplement comes in capsule form, you may find it is easier and more effective to open the capsule and mix it in with your dog’s food.
You can also find supplements that contain slippery elm and other ingredients that help with specific conditions.
It’s Time To Add Slippery Elm To Your Dog’s First Aid Kit
If your dog experiences digestive issues, urinary tract infections or is regularly getting scraps and cuts … consider slippery elm. It may be exactly what you need to help ease your dog’s discomfort