Arnica is actually a sunflower with bright yellow flowers and opposing leaves on the stem. Most arnicas have a satisfying aroma, existing as they do in the mountainous regions of North America.
The plant is a perennial that blooms in the second year of growth and is among the first flowers to bloom in early spring. Arnica is also known as Leopard’s Bane.
Arnica is usually used for dogs with muscle aches, strains and other associated injuries. It has also been used on dogs with emotional stress and can even aid in the rehabilitation process after dogs have experienced brain or spinal cord injuries.
In most applications, the whole flower is used. It comes in the form of a tablet, gel or cream.
- The tablet form of arnica is sometimes given pre-surgery or post-surgery to help healing at the incision site. It’s also been proven to help in emotional stress during and after the surgical procedure. Tablet form is like any other herbal pillule. They are tiny pellets. Dosage recommended is roughly 3 of these little pellets directly in the mouth. You want to try and get them around the mucous membranes. So, place below the front teeth on the gum line. They will dissolve. These can be used along with the topical gel or cream.
- The gel and cream forms are applied topically to any areas of the body where the dog has experienced trauma. Arnica has been used to treat everything from sore muscles to bruises and sprains. Arthritis symptoms have also been alleviated with topical application of arnica gels and creams.
- Directions for applying arnica to sore muscles, joints and sprains: It’s important to remember that arnica creams are used for closed-tissue injuries only. The infusion of arnica gel or cream should be applied directly to the skin itself and not the fur of your dog. After moistening the skin with arnica tincture, gel or cream and wrap the area in gauze or cloth. Secure it so that it can’t be taken off. Repeat this up to four times daily. If the condition worsens after 2-3 days, see your dog’s holistic vet.
Dr. Weil recommends mixing one tablespoon of arnica tincture with a pint of spring (or purified) water. Using gauze or a sanitary pad, dip it into the mixture and apply it to the bruised area or sore arthritic joint.
As mentioned, arnica shouldn’t be applied to open wounds. This is because it works quickly to stimulate dilation and circulation of peripheral blood vessels, which can actually increase the blood flow of an open and bleeding wound. Applying arnica gels or creams to open wounds can also slow the natural coagulation process.
If arnica is used too long, redness and irritation can result and dogs may lick or chew where it was applied. Abrasions and lesions have also been reported, so discontinue use if you see any of these signs on your dog’s skin.
Internal applications of arnica can result in stomach irritation if used too long. Throat irritation and mouth ulcers can also result, especially when arnica is used at a higher dosage than recommended. Other possible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and even organ failure.
NEVER use arnica creams or gels around the eyes or mouth areas.
Reasons to Use
The best use of arnica is in its topical form to help alleviate sore muscles and bruising. It also has dramatic and demonstrable effects in the time period immediately after injury occurs, helping to cut down on symptoms of pain and strain in dogs.
As with all of the herbal treatments we’ve been discussing, you should monitor your dog’s reactions to arnica in any of its forms. When using arnica for dogs, don’t overuse it and always follow any written instructions to ensure your best friend’s safety and well-being.