Benefits of Devil’s Claw for Dogs

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
sunday pictures/Shutterstock

Also known as Grapple Plant or Wood Spider, the ominous-sounding Devil’s Claw is really just a name given to the flowering Harpagoside plant that’s native to South Africa. But this pretty little shrub is not just another run-of-the-mill garden plant. Renowned for its natural medicinal properties, the root and tuber from this perennial have been delivering fast, effective pain relief to humans (and their animals) for centuries.

In fact, anti-inflammatory properties from the iridoid glycoside compounds found in the root are today, used throughout the world to treat everything from arthritis and rheumatism to gout, tendonitis, back pain, and even your everyday headache.

And because it can be found in powder, capsule and extract formats, it’s easy to administer to pets who clam up when it comes to popping pills. It’s readily available at any health food store, pharmacy, or even online. So, if this herbal supplement is used by both humans and livestock, is it also safe for dogs? The short answer is yes but with a few caveats.

Related: Best Natural Supplements for Dogs

Like any natural supplement, Devil’s Claw packs a powerful punch and if you are considering testing this (or other) herbal anti-inflammatories on your pet, speak with your vet first.

Who Shouldn’t Take Devil’s Claw

For humans, Devil’s Claw in any format is considered a safe, short-term solution with few side effects. Over time, however, it can aggravate stomach-related issues including ulcers, gallstones, or other gastrointestinal sensitivities. It’s also recommended that Devil’s Claw not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Translate all of that into dog-speak and it’s not surprising the same concerns apply to your four-legged buddy. Side effects from over-dosing or extended use can include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. And as above, this is not a recommended course of treatment for pregnant or nursing dogs. It’s also not an appropriate supplement for animals with diabetes or those taking other medications. That’s why running the use of Devil’s Claw past your veterinarian, is an important first step.

How It Works

While still under study, research is suggesting it’s the rich, anti-oxidant properties found in the Devil’s Claw root that can ward off the free radicals responsible for damaging cells and triggering inflammation. This in turn helps to reduce swelling and ultimately alleviate pain.

And because these flavonoids and phytosterols also help your pet digest his food, better absorb nutrients, and promote healthier bile production, they can be a great boost for older or ailing animals with poor appetites.

Best of all results from taking Devil’s Claw – such as greater mobility and less joint pain - can appear in your pet within two-to-three weeks of them beginning this natural regimen.

Dosing and Formats

If you’ve ever tried to pill a dog, you’ll understand why having a powder or extract format is so beneficial when trying to dose your pet. Once you’ve decided to move forward with this form of natural pain relief, choose the format that best suits your pet.

Be sure to check for just how long the manufacturer recommends your dog should receive this type of pain relief, how frequently throughout the day it should be provided, and also whether it should be taken with or without food.

And be aware that brands and formulations differ when it comes to dosing. Read labels carefully and follow them to the letter. While some may consider several teaspoons to be an appropriate dosage, others prescribe just a portion of that.

In all instances, offering Devil’s Claw to your pet for a set period of time (typically no more than two to three months), then taking him off the supplement either permanently or for the short term, is a frequent recommendation.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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