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Astragalus is a powerful herb that has many benefits for dogs, including strengthening the liver and heart, along with immune cells to fight off infection.
Astragalus is also an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body resist stressors of all kinds from seasonal allergies to disease. If your dog is suffering from any kind of health condition, astragalus can likely help.
Astragalus is especially beneficial for senior dogs. As senior dogs age, their immune system weakens and becomes more susceptible to age-related diseases. Astragalus can help boost your dog's immune system, giving your dog a better chance to fight off disease.
If you're looking for an all-natural way to boost your dog's health, consider adding astragalus root to your dog's diet. Let's talk about how and why...
Astragalus root is exceptionally beneficial in multiple ways for dogs but especially our grey-muzzled seniors. It packs a punch when it comes to overall support for good immune health and has the ability to work across many systems in dogs' bodies including kidney, liver, and cardiovascular systems.
One of its classifications is as an adaptogen, meaning it has the ability to help the body resist stressors whether they're physical, chemical, or biological stressors. It is also an herb that can aid in protecting the liver and is often used to help with liver disease, improving liver function and regenerating liver cells.
Another benefit? Astragalus can help dogs with mild to severe cardiovascular diseases affecting the heart such as congestive heart failure.
Astragalus has been used, even revered, for at least 2,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is associated with longevity. It's considered one of the fundamental herbs, an important tonic herb for maintaining vitality (qi) and strengthening resistance (immunity).
From a Western perspective, astragalus is useful with a wide range of conditions, both preventively and as a treatment. While we often think of astragalus as an immune system booster and modulator, useful with many forms of cancer and especially to help support the body through chemotherapy, it has many other applications.
In the world of established, certified herbalism, particularly when it comes to "medicinal" herbs, each herb has an official profile detailing its properties. Here's the herbal profile for astragalus with a bit more explanation in some categories detailing how it works in our dogs' immune systems and throughout their bodies.
Adaptogen, antibacterial, antiviral, diuretic, immune-stimulant, vasodilator
Astragalus is an extremely hard-working, versatile herb, performing functions most of us are familiar with from being an antibacterial to an antiviral as well as acting as a diuretic, immune-stimulant, and vasodilator (opens/dilates blood vessels).
Astragalus is also an adaptogen, which as mentioned above, means it helps the body to cope with stress. It bolsters your dog's immune system to adapt to any type of stress that comes at your pup - essentially arming your dog with stronger resistance against negative health stressors.
Saponins, polysaccharides, triterpenoids, isoflavones, glycosides
"Constituents" in herbalism is simply the pharmacology word for active ingredients meaning those parts of the herb that have a potentially medicinal effect on the body.
Earthy/sweet taste, slightly warming energetically.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint, astragalus has an "ascending energy" meaning it's a famed energizer, especially strengthening to the muscles, legs and arms. It's also a warming herb (in the TCM cooling/neutral/warming framework) which goes hand in hand with increasing energy flow.
In TCM, astragalus is considered a tonic for the spleen and lung meridians. Astragalus also strengthens Qi or vital energy, treats stagnant blood flow, and improves Yin deficiency by promoting diuresis to remove edema (swelling caused by excessive fluid trapped in the body's tissues).
For any dog owners whose dogs are suffering from an acute infection or an immune-compromised condition, it's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before use. We always want to rule out any possible interactions with other medications your dog might be taking or any other reason that might make astragalus counterproductive.
Because astragalus is an herb that has warming properties it might not be useful for dogs that "run hot." Additionally, it is not an herb that should be used when a dog has a fever, again because it is a warming herb.
However, the warming elements of this herb can be great for a common cold or used in the winter when immune health can become especially compromised. Its warming, energizing qualities are also highly supportive of a senior dog who "runs cool" and may have lost a bit of energy in his or her step.
For dogs with current medical conditions, astragalus's high concentrations of antioxidants can balance out a weakened immune system and provide overall support for alleviating stress throughout the body. You'll be building a foundation for getting well along with setting up your dog for a good preventive base going forward.
Best of all, like most immunotonic herbs, astragalus is very safe. A daily dose for a healthy diet is as simple as a sprinkle of the ground root on your dog's food.
It is uniquely capable of stimulating some immune functions while depressing other immune responses. As mentioned before, it has antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, while it improves kidney circulation, normalizes heart function, stimulates T-cell activity, strengthens digestion, increases metabolic activity, and enhances DNA synthesis in the liver.
For all these reasons, astragalus root is recommended for daily use for dogs of all ages, but especially seniors. The astragalus membranaceus herb (make sure it's this type of astragalus) is available in powder or extract forms. USDA-certified organic astragalus powder is readily available and easy to sprinkle in your dog's food.
These are conservative, support-level doses for a well-functioning immune system. At these dosages, astragalus is both safe and beneficial in multiple ways.
Note: Remember it's always a good idea to consult with your vet or canine nutritionist before administering astragalus, or really any therapeutic herb, to avoid drug interactions or issues with existing conditions (such as autoimmune diseases).
If you're looking for an easy way to keep your pup living a happy, healthy life regardless of age, add astragalus to your dog's diet!
Now that you've learned how to feed your senior dog and add astragalus to boost your dog's immune system, you can go back to the beginning on why feeding for your dog's life stage matters or dive straight into the puppy or adult dog feeding guides.
Hop over to the Life Stage Feeding Channel if you have any nutrition related questions for the Community discussion or start any of the step-by-step guides in Puppy Feeding or Adult Feeding. And if you ever need more personalized nutrition guidance, please reach out!
DISCLAIMER: The content of this website and community is based on the research, expertise, and views of each respective author. Information here is not intended to replace your one-on-one relationship with your veterinarian, but as a sharing of information and knowledge to help arm dog parents to make more informed choices. We encourage you to make health care decisions based on your research and in partnership with your vet. In cases of distress, medical issues, or emergency, always consult your veterinarian.