Slippery Elm Uses for Pets

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A North American native tree, the slippery elm's bark has been used medicinally by indigenous people for centuries. Today, it's used by holistic veterinarians to treat various canine and feline issues, especially those involving the gastrointestinal tract. According to the University of Maryland, the herb produces no serious side effects.

How It Works

While slippery elm is available in various forms, for pet purposes the dried powder version is used. Mix it with water before giving it to your pet. You can place the mixed product into your pet's food if that's the easiest way to administer it. Slippery elm has lubricating qualities, so it soothes inflamed mucous membranes in different areas of the body. While slippery elm is available over-the-counter in health food stores, you may want to ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding the best quality product. She can also give you dosing amounts for your animal.


Tannins in slippery elm work to soothe the intestinal tract, relieving diarrhea. It's used primarily in cases of acute, or sudden onset, diarrhea, rather than a chronic problem. If you give your pet slippery elm but the diarrhea doesn't resolve itself, take him to the vet for a diagnosis. Diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration if it continues.


The herb's lubricating qualities help relieve constipation, and it also may be administered as a preventative in pets prone to this problem.


If your pet constantly coughs, he may be suffering from bronchitis. Slippery elm may help alleviate the coughing, but it's only a relief, not a cure. Take your pet to the vet if he exhibits serious or prolonged respiratory issues.

Feline Cystitis

Cat with cystitis experience swelling of the bladder, with subsequent difficulty or pain while urinating. Affecting both males and females, the condition is also known as feline urologic syndrome. Veterinary scientists aren't sure what causes cystitis, but a poor quality, dry food diet may be a factor. While your vet might prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatories to treat kitty, slippery elm may also be administered to aid the cat in recovery or prevent a recurrence. Always consult your vet before giving your cat any herbal remedies.


While generally safe, slippery elm may cause allergic reactions in pets sensitive to it. Don't give it to pregnant dogs or cats, as there is a slim chance it could cause abortion. Since it may interfere with the absorption of other medications, always consult your vet before giving it to a pet prescribed other pharmaceuticals.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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