Ask a Vet: Is Wormwood Safe for Pets?
At Verm-X we take great care to use only the best and most appropriate herbs in our formulations. Working with leading medical herbalists to develop naturally effective blends.
Just as you wouldn't go into a pharmacy and help yourself to the tablets on the shelves, you wouldn't go into the garden and feed your animals herbs willy nilly. It's about getting the dose and the balance right.
Holistic veterinary consultant, Dr Nick Thompson MRCVS looks at Wormwood and explains the reasons it is safer to be avoided:
Wormwood for dogs, is it safe?
Clients often ask me about the use of Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium.
It's an obvious choice if one is simplistically looking for a herb that may have anti-parasitic effects. The name is a bit of a giveaway for have-a-go herbalists.
But you have to think of why it's got a historical reputation as an anti-parasitic. It's because it contains thujone, a poisonous neurotoxic compound found at high levels in some evergreen trees such as the cypress family.
Is Wormwood safe for dogs?
The use of thujone containing products is restricted in most countries in Europe.
The most famous use of Wormwood is in the liqueur Absinth, from whence it got it's name - the one that all the struggling artists drank in Paris at the turn of the last century.
You know, the one that sent them mad with hallucinations due to its neurotoxic effects? Now you're getting a feel for Wormwood.
Is wormwood herb toxic to dogs and cats?
Wormwood is specifically contraindicated (i.e. you should NEVER give it) to pregnant animals/people as it is an abortifacient, it can induce abortion or miscarriage.
It is used in medical herbalism as a bitter, a tonic and a depurative (a cleanser as it promotes liver function).
In summary, Wormwood does seem to have anti-parasitic activity due to its toxicity, but it's this toxicity that makes it a herb that I think should only be used in specific situations under strict veterinary supervision. I am very suspicious of using any off the shelf product containing Wormwood.