Arnica for Dogs and How to Safely Use It

by janie knetzer

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arnica for dogsIn this article, we’ll explore the benefits of arnica for dogs and check out how you can make use of this treatment for your own pet.

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.

Therapeutic Use

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.


Click Here to Buy Homeopathic Arnica

Preventative Measures

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.

our two dogs

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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

WiseFun June 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Trying to find out how to give Arnica 30C by mouth to dogs.


Mike June 30, 2013 at 12:17 am

I put the pellets on a 1/4 piece of bread spread with peanut butter. My dog eats it up just fine. My only question is that in a human the pellets should be dissolved under the tongue. Will they dissolve well enough in the stomach? I’m thinking of trying arnica drops directly to her tongue. Good luck and I hope your dog feels better!


Nancy November 25, 2014 at 12:47 am

My german shepherd has an aural hematoma. Read that arnica is a good remedy, but then also saw it shouldn’t be used around the mouth or eyes. I’m so confused and worried. Don’t want to go the surgery route if we can avoid it.


janie knetzer November 25, 2014 at 2:42 am

Hi Nancy:

An aural hematoma refers to the ear flap, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the eyes and using Arnica oil on the ear flap in addition to Arnica pellets. However, I’m not sure you need the oil (read further). I know the hematoma is very scary looking, but you can let it heal itself naturally. It might take a month, but many vets opt for the “no surgery” route now by just allowing nature to take it’s course. Here’s an excellent video from a vet discussing why surgery isn’t necessary.

However, the ear might look a little funny once healed if you let it heal on it’s own. It’s often referred to the crinkled look. But, if you can live with that, then the natural way might be best.

Although I’m not sure if your shepherd is shaking his head a lot or not, if he is, then there’s a very good chance that he has an infection (bacterial or yeast). The shaking of the head is often what leads to the broken blood vessels and the hematoma. Ear infections occur for several reasons including food and/or airborne allergies. My point is, yes, it’s important to pay close attention to the hematoma, but you also need to take a close look at the other issues that are causing him to shake his head.

I have an article here that discusses common causes of ear problems. So, what I would do is to try the Arnica in pellet form as well as treating the ear with Zymox to rid any infection.

Start taking a close look at your dog’s food. Shepherds do very well on raw diets Nancy.

Try to keep him from shaking his head while you’re trying to heal the ear. They have collars that you can buy that limit your dog’s ability to shake his head, chew, etc. while trying to heal a wound. These collars are much easier on the dog than the old fashioned lamp shade type cone.

Anyway, the sooner you get the allergy, infection issue under control and whether it’s related to food, etc., the better. I hope this helps.



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