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Colloidal Silver for Dogs: Safety, Uses, & Risks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

concentrated liquid colloidal silver being diluted in glass of water

Colloidal Silver for Dogs: Safety, Uses, & Risks

Colloidal silver is a suspension of tiny particles of silver in a medium such as water, a gel, or a cream. This remedy supposedly has health benefits and has been used for centuries as an alternative therapy. However, colloidal silver is seen as controversial due to its unsafe status given by the FDA and its dubious uses in modern medicine. But how does this compare to veterinary medicine? Can colloidal silver be used for dogs? Is it safe? This article explores the safety, uses, and risks of colloidal silver for dogs.

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How Does Colloidal Silver Work?

scientist working at a laboratory
Image Credit: Alexander Raths, Shutterstock

Those who believe in the benefits of colloidal silver claim that it has antibacterial properties that can fight infection, particularly if placed topically on the skin. However, the way that colloidal silver works has never been proven. The theory is that the silver in the suspension will attach to various bacteria by joining with the protein on their cell walls and deactivating the bacteria.

This allows the silver ions to pass into the cells themselves, where they can damage the bacteria’s DNA and cause their death. There is also speculation that silver can similarly inactivate a protein found in viruses. Some in-depth studies have explored the properties of colloidal silver, and research suggests that it has some antibacterial and antiseptic properties. However, this is not considered enough evidence for the FDA in most circumstances.

There has been one study that found that colloidal silver when applied topically to the skin was effective in preventing clumps of bacteria called biofilm from causing infections. Topical colloidal silver is beneficial to humans when applied to wounds or burns to prevent infections, but even the topical application of colloidal silver is debated.

When researching this article, only one study could be found that references the use of colloidal silver in veterinary medicine. Therefore, colloidal silver is not used in veterinary medicine and is only available in over-the-counter products.

What Are the Different Types of Colloidal Silver?

Colloidal silver comes in various forms, including topical and oral ingestion preparations.

Topical preparations of colloidal silver include:
  • Creams
  • Ointment
  • Impregnated bandages (bandages with colloidal silver already on them)
  • Gel
Oral preparations of colloidal silver include:
  • Drops
  • Food additives
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Sprays

These forms of colloidal silver are often called other names, such as silver hydrosol or silver water. They can be found online or in holistic health shops for pets. Remember that none of these have been regulated, and the amount of colloidal silver can vary wildly, even between batches of the same product. Some hold very low concentrations of colloidal silver, typically ranging from 10 to 30 parts per million.

Why Is Colloidal Silver Used for Dogs?

medical treatment of sick husky dog in vet clinic
Image By: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

Reports of colloidal silver treating cancer, skin conditions, digestive issues, and problems commonly faced by dogs, such as allergies, have all been made. Studies referenced above discuss the effectiveness of topical colloidal silver when healing troublesome injuries such as burns. However, not enough studies have been performed to allow the use of colloidal silver in veterinary medicine.

Even in human medicine, no study has supported the use of colloidal silver (particularly via ingestion) to treat any of these diseases. Furthermore, veterinary medicine is so advanced that any benefits a dog could receive from colloidal silver could be replicated more effectively and safely using modern antibiotics and other treatments.

The risks of using colloidal silver for your dog outweigh any purported benefits. Although colloidal silver and its various forms are widely distributed on the internet, it’s better not to risk causing more harm to your dog if they have a health issue. Like any medicine, if you want to try colloidal silver on your dog, discuss it with your veterinarian before making any decisions.

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Risks of Colloidal Silver Use in Dogs

Topical colloidal silver doesn’t carry as many risks as oral colloidal silver does. Used topically, unless your dog actively licks the colloidal silver off, it’s unlikely to cause any significant problems. However, because it’s not FDA-approved, we do not recommend using any colloidal silver on your dog.

It is when colloidal silver is ingested that it becomes a risk. Colloidal silver is toxic and not only causes damage to organs and other systems in the body but can also damage the delicate microbiome in your dog’s gut. This can cause digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea, some of which can be long-lasting and affect their DNA.

Toxicity

Black dog vomiting
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

In extreme cases, colloidal silver toxicity can cause organ damage and death. Due to the buildup of silver nanoparticles in the organs (including the kidney, brain, liver, lungs, and spleen), they can be damaged. Neurological issues, including seizures and problems with muscle movement and organ functions, can occur. Even malformations can occur in animals exposed to high levels of colloidal silver.

I’ve Heard That Colloidal Silver Can Turn Your Dog Blue! Is This True?

One of the many things that repeatedly comes up when speaking about colloidal silver is a condition called Argyria. Argyria is caused by the buildup of silver in the body, which deposits itself in the skin, causing it to turn blue. As well as deposits in the skin, silver can accumulate in other body systems such as the liver, kidneys, and intestines.

Large amounts of silver need to be ingested to cause this. Still, because the amount of silver in colloidal silver preparations found for pets is unregulated, there is a chance that the dosage could be high enough to cause Argyria in your dog.

 Drug Interactions

owner giving medicine tablet to his sick dog
Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio, Shutterstock

If your dog takes other medications, it’s strongly advised not to give them colloidal silver. Colloidal silver interacts with several medicines dogs take, such as levothyroxine for thyroid conditions and other antibiotics, such as penicillin. If taken at the same time, colloidal silver can stop these medications from working as they should.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Some alternatives to colloidal silver also use silver but have different silver ions, meaning the silver’s effects and actions are different. For example, wound dressings contain silver sulfadiazine, which is another silver nanomaterial.

Silver sulfadiazine effectively prevents infection in wounds and burns or after complex procedures such as skin grafts in people. They have been studied and are different from colloidal silver. However, even though silver dressings are still used in medicine today, more treatments are available that are just as effective or even more effective.

How Can Colloidal Silver Still Be Sold If It’s Dangerous?

Colloidal silver can still be sold because it’s branded as a homeopathy remedy or a food supplement, meaning it’s not FDA-registered and doesn’t need to be. The same goes for veterinary-marketed colloidal silver; because it’s classed as an alternative therapy or a supplement, it doesn’t need to be regulated.

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Conclusion

The bottom line is that colloidal silver is unsafe for dogs. Although it has some reported benefits, particularly for topical applications such as burn healing, more effective treatments are available, particularly with advances in veterinary medicine. Therefore, dogs suffering from burns or other skin conditions will be prescribed specific treatments approved by veterinarians.

Giving your dog colloidal silver orally is never a good idea since even preparations sold for animal consumption can have wildly different levels of colloidal silver in them. Until more research is done on colloidal silver uses in the veterinary world, giving it in any form to your dog is not recommended. If you wish to introduce any medication to your dog, please consult your veterinary doctor.


Featured Image Credit: samray, Shutterstock

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