Is Spilanthes Safe For Dogs?

Spilanthes, also known as the toothache plant, is an herbal supplement that has gained popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits. But is it safe to give to your canine companion? This comprehensive guide examines the safety and efficacy of spilanthes for dogs.

What is Spilanthes?

Spilanthes is a flowering plant native to tropical regions around the world. It goes by many common names including toothache plant, paracress, eyeball plant, and buzz buttons.

The most commonly used species is Spilanthes acmella, which has been used in traditional medicine practices for centuries. Traditional uses include helping with toothaches, treating infections, acting as an insecticide, and more.

Spilanthes contains various bioactive compounds that are thought to account for its therapeutic effects. The main ones are:

  • Spilanthol – responsible for the tingling, numbing sensation
  • Alkylamides – anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Luteolin – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoid

These phytochemicals give the plant its analgesic, antimicrobial, immune-boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties. Spilanthes extracts and tinctures can be taken orally or applied topically.

The raw leaves and flowers can also be eaten in salads, soups, and other dishes. They provide a pungent, peppery flavor.

Is Spilanthes Toxic to Dogs?

There are no reports of spilanthes poisoning in dogs. According to veterinarians and available research, spilanthes appears to be well-tolerated and non-toxic for canine consumption.

Spilanthes is considered very safe in animal studies. High doses of up to 5,000 mg/kg did not cause any mortality in test animals. This indicates the LD50 is likely much higher than this threshold.

However, there is currently limited clinical research on the safety of spilanthes specifically in dogs. More pharmacokinetic studies are needed to establish definitive safety margins for canines.

It’s best to start with low doses first to monitor your dog’s reaction when introducing any new herb or supplement. Follow dosage guidelines on commercial products formulated for pets.

Potential Benefits of Spilanthes for Dogs

While research is still in early stages, initial studies suggest spilanthes may offer certain therapeutic benefits for dogs. Some of the potential effects being investigated include:

Oral Health

Spilanthes is traditionally used by humans for toothaches and oral infections. The tingling compounds are thought to help numb pain and fight bacteria.

There is some preliminary evidence that spilanthes may support canine oral health as well:

  • One study found that spilanthes extracts inhibited the growth of common periodontal pathogens like P. gingivalis.
  • Some commercial dental sprays and gels for dogs contain spilanthes along with other traditional oral health herbs. Anecdotal reports from pet owners suggest these products help reduce bad breath and plaque buildup when used regularly.
  • Spilanthes appears in several veterinary herbal medicine texts as an oral antimicrobial for pets. However, more research is still needed on real-world efficacy and optimal dosing.

Skin Conditions

The anti-inflammatory effects of spilanthes may help soothe problematic skin irritation in dogs. This includes itchy rashes, hot spots, insect bites, and more.

Applying spilanthes creams, salves, or oils topically on the affected areas may provide relief by:

  • Alleviating inflammation and redness
  • Providing a cooling sensation to hot, irritated skin
  • Delivering immune-modulating compounds to speed healing

Always monitor your dog closely when using topical spilanthes to ensure they don’t lick or ingest too much.

Immune Support

Some early cell studies indicate spilanthes may have immunomodulating and antioxidant effects. The alkylamides appear to stimulate cytokine production and white blood cell activity.

While human trials are still needed, these immune-boosting actions could potentially benefit dogs as well. More research is warranted on the best delivery methods and dosages for pets.

Bug Repellent

Spilanthes contains compounds that are noxious to insects. It has traditionally been used as an insecticide and pest deterrent.

Some pet owners have had success using diluted spilanthes sprays and rubs to repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitos from dogs. Always carefully monitor your pet to make sure they don’t lick or ingest the repellent. Don’t apply it near eyes, nose, or mouth.

Potential Side Effects of Spilanthes

When used appropriately, spilanthes is considered very safe for dogs with minimal risk of side effects. However, some potential adverse reactions can occur, including:

  • Upset stomach or diarrhea – use the dried herb instead of tincture to avoid gastrointestinal irritation. Reduce dosage if symptoms occur.
  • Skin irritation – discontinue topical use if rashes, itching, or redness develops. Not all dogs will tolerate topical spilanthes well.
  • Excess salivation – the tingling sensation may prompt increased drooling. Reduce dosage if bothersome.
  • Overstimulation – spilanthes may cause restlessness, panting, or anxiety at high doses. Stick with recommended dosages suitable for your dog’s size.

Always start with small amounts and closely supervise your dog anytime you give a new supplement. Seek veterinary guidance on proper dosing and best spilanthes delivery methods for your pet.

Spilanthes Dosage Guidelines for Dogs

There are currently no established standards for spilanthes doses in dogs. General dosage suggestions based on the limited available research include:

  • Capsules/Powder – 50 to 100 mg per 10 lbs body weight, 1-2 times daily
  • Tincture – 1-5 drops per 10 lbs body weight, 1-2 times daily
  • Topical – Dilute 10-25 drops of tincture per ounce of water or unscented oil. Apply small amounts to localized areas no more than 1-2 times daily.

When using spilanthes topically, carefully monitor your dog to prevent excessive licking and ingestion.

Consult your veterinarian before giving spilanthes in any form, especially if your dog takes any medications or has health conditions. Start with small doses and watch for any adverse reactions.

Best Practices for Giving Spilanthes to Dogs

Follow these tips for safely administering spilanthes:

  • Pick high-quality supplements designed for pet use. Make sure the source and species is specified.
  • Introduce doses slowly and gradually increase over several days.
  • Give with food to minimize stomach upset.
  • Stick with recommended dosages based on your dog’s size and needs.
  • Monitor for side effects like diarrhea, skin irritation, or overstimulation.
  • Avoid use in pregnant or lactating dogs until more safety research is available.
  • Talk to your vet before using spilanthes if your dog takes any prescription medications or has health issues.
  • Never give spilanthes essential oil internally or undiluted topically. Only use food-grade extracts.
  • Keep all supplements safely out of reach from pets when not actively dosing to avoid accidental overconsumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is spilanthes used for in dogs?

The main potential uses of spilanthes in dogs include supporting oral health, soothing skin conditions, providing immune support, and repelling insects. However, more research is still needed to establish safety, efficacy, and optimal dosing guidelines.

Is spilanthes FDA approved for dogs?

No, spilanthes is not yet approved by the FDA for veterinary use in dogs or other pets. It is available as an unregulated herbal supplement. Always consult your vet before using to ensure appropriate and safe use for your dog.

Are there any drug interactions with spilanthes?

Possible drug interactions are not yet known. Spilanthes may impact anesthesia recovery and interact with medications that cause drowsiness. Talk to your veterinarian before using spilanthes if your dog takes any prescription or OTC medications.

Can spilanthes be applied directly to dogs?

Yes, spilanthes extracts or tinctures can be diluted and applied topically. Never apply undiluted essential oils. Monitor your dog closely to prevent excessive licking and ingestion of topical spilanthes products. Discontinue use if skin irritation develops.

What is the best form of spilanthes for dogs?

For oral use, dried herb capsules or powders may be best tolerated. For topical use, diluted spilanthes tinctures, oils, or water-based creams can be applied to localized areas. Always pick high-quality supplements formulated for pets and follow all dosage guidelines.

The Bottom Line

Early research and traditional use suggest spilanthes may offer some beneficial effects for dogs when used appropriately. However, conclusive clinical trials are still lacking. While generally considered safe, be cautious with spilanthes until more robust veterinary studies confirm ideal dosing, efficacy, and safety parameters.

As with any new supplement, start slowly and monitor your dog closely for any adverse reactions. Work closely with your vet to determine if spilanthes is appropriate for your pet and how to best incorporate it into their wellness routine if so. With judicious and informed use, spilanthes may be a helpful addition to supporting your dog’s health and comfort naturally.