Among the various remedies to treat a dog's upset stomach and diarrhea, slippery elm deserves a place of honor.
Slippery elm comes from the red elm tree, to be exact, the species known as ulmus rubra. This tree can be found scattered throughout the United States especially along the Appalachian Mountains, Texas, North Dakota, Florida and even some areas of Canada.
The part that interests us the most is the dried and powdered inner bark which has been known for centuries to have great properties to cure several ailments such as an irritated throat, cough, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, colitis, and Native Americans have been using it for years to treat several skin conditions.
The term "slippery" derives from the fact that when the powdered bark is mixed with water, it forms a viscid gel that appears slimy, and thus, "slippery."
What Can Slippery Elm do For a Dog's Upset Stomach?
The answer is many good things! In dogs, slippery elm is mostly used for digestive upset including acute cases of diarrhea, colitis and inflammation.
We need to thank this herb for the tannins slippery elm contains which work as an astringent for diarrhea, along with the mucilage texture it assumes once mixed with water which lubricates and soothes the inflamed lining of stomach and intestines giving relief.
Slippery elm is also effective in drawing out impurities and toxins from the dog's body, and on top of that, slippery elm also helps with ulcers, healing damaged mucous membranes, and acts as a pre-biotic that helps balance the good bacteria in the gut.
What do veterinarians think of slippery elm? Michele Yasson, a holistic veterinarian claims:
[adinserter block="4"]"I use this herb more than any other in my practice! It provides superb relief, and has kept many patients from hospitalization." She also adds that it's use is similar to applying a soothing internal bandage that coats the digestive tract from start to finish and that it makes a huge difference.
Karen Becker author and veterinarian claims: "My favorite all-natural anti-diarrhea remedy is an herb called slippery elm bark. I recommend always having some on hand so when you need it, it’s right there... I recommend about a half teaspoon for each 10 pounds of body weight, mixed into the bland diet twice daily."
How to Make Slippery Elm Mix for Dogs
If you are interested in making this natural "Pepto Bismol," all you need to do is purchase the dried, inner bark of slippery elm. This comes in a powder form and sometimes also in capsules and it's often sold in health food stores or you can find it in our store. It can be given in powder or it can be mixed with water until it becomes of a slimy, slippery texture. Afterward, it can be added to the dog's food. The best part is that it tastes very bland, making it easy to administer. Here are some guidelines on preparing slippery elm for dogs along with dosages.
Dr. Pitcairn in his book Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats suggests to mix 1 slightly rounded teaspoon of powder in 1 cup of cold water, bring to a boil as the mixture is being constantly stirred, then lower the heat for about 2 to 3 minutes allowing the mixture to thicken. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and allow to cool down and give in the following dosages:
- Small dogs: 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon 4 times a day (or every 4 hours).
- Medium dogs: 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons 4 times a day (or every 4 hours).
- Large dogs: 3 to 4 tablespoons 4 times a day (or every 4 hours).
[adinserter block="5"]Holistic veterinarian Michele Yasson offers two different preparations: the simple tea method and long brew method on her page on Guidelines for GastroIntestinal Problems.
For those interested in a study conducted on the efficacy of slippery elm's use in dogs and cats with digestive problems you may be happy to learn that one was conducted recently.
Here is the link:"Expedited Management of Canine and Feline Vomiting and Diarrhea."
Because slippery elm coats the stomach and intestinal tract, it may interfere with the proper absorption of medications and supplements. If you must give slippery elm, it's a good idea to give it two hours before or two hours after the medications or supplements are given.
Also, as with other natural remedies it's important to listen to what your dog's body says. If slippery elm helps your dog's digestive system, but the moment you stop using it you notice the symptoms reappear, this is often a sign that there's an underlying cause that needs addressed! There are chances that your dog may be suffering from some chronic digestive issue or that the stomach upset is diet related. This warrants further investigation by your vet.
The bottom line is that just as using a bland diet for a upset stomach, slippery elm should be reserved only for those occasional cases of mild digestive issues. If you notice any loss of appetite,lethargy, bloody stools, please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The Longwood Herbal Task Force and The Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra or U. fulva) Kathi J. Kemper, MD, MPH
R. McCullough, "Expedited Management of Canine and Feline Vomiting and Diarrhea. Observational Study in 3952 Dogs and 2248 Cats Using Sucralfate-Like Potency-Enhanced Polyanionic Phyto-Saccharide—Elm Mucilage," Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2013, pp. 228-234.
M. Yasson, “Slippery Elm for Better Pet Digestion. Dr. Yasson’s Guidelines for Gastrointestinal Troubles,” 2010. http://www.holvet.net/slippery_soup.html
University of Maryland, Slippery Elm