What Are the Pros and Cons of Colloidal Silver for Dogs?

happy white dog

As with most choices in the medical realm, there are both pros and cons of using colloidal silver for dogs, but for most people the decision comes down to ready availability, price, and history of success. Colloidal silver is usually considered an “alternative therapy” drug and is often used in place of antibiotics. It has a long history of use, and proponents often describe it as something of a cure-all. People give it to their dogs to treat almost any sort of infection or ailment. In most cases colloidal silver isn’t approved by government regulatory authorities for use as medication, though, and there can be concerns about strength, potency, and soundness of preparation. The lack of regulation can lead to a lot of variety in the products that are available, and there isn’t always a lot of consistency between brands. The risk of overdosing is rare but can happen, and prolonged use can lead to a number of canine health concerns.

dog eyes

Broad Spectrum of Uses

One of the biggest “pros” of colloidal silver for dogs is that it can be used to treat a huge range of issues. It is widely available in many natural food and health stores, and it isn’t usually nearly as expensive as the antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs that are often prescribed in its place.

Externally, gelled versions of the compound can be spread on cuts to promote healing and disinfect the wounds, and liquid iterations can be sprayed in the ears or eyes to help treat infections. People also commonly add a few drops to dogs’ water bowls to treat internal illnesses and discomforts. It’s also a common remedy for bacterial and fungal infections.

Long History of Success

Colloidal silver is said to be effective against upward of 650 disease-causing agents, and has been used to treat both human and animal conditions for centuries. While the use of colloidal silver now falls under the category of “alternative medicine” in most places, records dating back to ancient Persia show that it was used as early as 4000 B.C. for both people and livestock. Until the late 1930s, colloidal silver was the most common antibiotic agent used in humans and animals. It slowly faded out of favor once modern antibiotic drugs became more mainstream.

dog expressive eyes

Questions About Strength and Preparation

Most countries have regulatory agencies, usually sponsored by the national government, that set rules and restrictions on medications that can be sold to the public and claims that can be made about their efficacy. Most of these sorts of agencies do not recognize colloidal silver as a medication for humans or dogs, which gives some people pause. It’s important to note that simply not being endorsed isn’t necessarily a statement about the medication’s safety on the whole; in most cases, the failure to regulate is based more on a lack of information than on a preponderance of negative information.

The approach of the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a good example. In 1997 the FDA ruled that there was insufficient evidence supporting the effectiveness or safety of using colloidal silver products. The FDA’s primary concerns were that colloidal silver was being marketed as a cure for many diseases without much if any evidence supporting such claims, and was being sold in varying unknown formulations. After this ruling, colloidal silver could no longer be marketed in the US as a drug intended to treat diseases or illnesses, and could only by sold as a health supplement.

The biggest concerns for consumers is usually where the supplement is coming from and how it’s dosed. A lack of regulatory oversight often means that there’s a lot of freedom in the marketplace. Different brands may use different preparations and strengths, and people who aren’t carefully watching for this might use a product that is stronger or weaker than expected on their dog, which can lead to negative effects.

dog with red collar

Risks With Prolonged Use

Probably the biggest “con” associated with colloidal silver for dogs is the possibility of a condition known as “argyria.” Argyria can cause the skin to take on blue and gray hues, and can also cause organ failure and blood chemistry problems. It is usually caused by long-term use of colloidal silver that builds up in the blood and doesn’t process out the way it should. People who choose to use this sort of treatment for their dogs need to be sure to use the correct dosage for the dog’s weight and size, and should also usually be careful not to use the supplement for longer than is strictly necessary.

Heal Time Concerns

This sort of treatment isn’t always the fastest remedy for all problems, which can be a con depending on the circumstances. Minor aggravations usually respond the fastest, but more complex conditions and ailments can take longer to heal — which can open the possibility for worsening symptoms and secondary infections. If a dog doesn’t seem to be responding to the supplement, it might be worth exploring other options. Most modern antibiotics work much more quickly for serious conditions.

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