• Nichole Burik
  • Dog Nutrition and Member Service Specialist

  • 3 mins read time
  • Slippery Elm - the natural form of Pepto Bismol

    Slippery elm is one of the safest and most beneficial herbs that helps to re-balance the gut. The mucilage content in slippery elm coats, soothes, and lubricates the mucus membranes lining the digestive tract, making slippery elm a great treatment for bowel issues. Since slippery elm is high in fiber, it can relieve both diarrhea and constipation as well as alleviate nausea and vomiting in dogs. In addition to its GI healing properties, slippery elm is also packed with nutrients like vitamins A, B complex, C, K, calcium, magnesium and sodium. Slippery elm is one of the herbs used in the original formulation of “Essiac,” also called “Ojibwa Tea,” an herbal mixture widely promoted as a cancer-fighter.

    A little history on slippery elm - Native Americans would peel its inner bark from twigs and branches and use it as a remedy for fevers, wounds, and sore throats. They also found that when the bark is mixed with water, it creates a sticky substance known as mucilage, which is therapeutic and soothing. In addition, Native Americans would even wrap the inner bark around their meat to keep the meat from going bad! Later on, slippery elm bark was used by American soldiers to heal gunshot wounds during the American Revolution.

    Personally, I learned the hard way with my dogs that it’s not always in my best interest to feed them new food or treats without a little fiber in the beginning to help with digestion. Both of my dogs are used to getting a wide variety of different proteins, however these new proteins don’t always sit well with them. I notice each time I feed a bit of slippery elm before introducing a new food or treat, the stools are normal and there is no vomiting. Slippery elm has saved me a lot of clean up and saved my pups from any belly upset! Here are some common reasons to use slippery elm:

    Diarrhea. Slippery elm reduces inflammation and lubricates the digestive tract with the help of the mucilage that make up slippery elm. Because of this, slippery elm is recommended for diarrhea and other stomach irritations. Keep in mind it’s important to know what is causing the diarrhea, but if it is a sudden case, it may help to fast your dog, feed very bland food and probiotics along with slippery elm.

    Constipation. Although it may sound contradicting to feed slippery elm to a dog with diarrhea as well as constipation, it’s not! Slippery elm is a wonder herb and due to its soothing and lubricating properties it can help prevent and relieve constipation. Its mucilage-like consistency is thought to have a positive effect on stool formation by adding softness and bulk to the stool to promote comfortable bowel movement.

    Cough. More research is needed, however slippery elm is believed to be an antitussive, which means it’s great for coughs and other upper respiratory illnesses like bronchitis or asthma. Also, there is a study examining the bark’s use in people with laryngitis or throat inflammation. You can find slippery elm as a common ingredient on throat lozenges!

    Wounds. Slippery elm bark for wounds has been used for centuries. The Native Americans used the bark to help stop bleeding and the American Soldiers used slippery elm bark to heal gunshot wounds. Create a soothing paste of slippery elm bark powder mixed with a little cold water and apply to scratches, rashes, hot spots or other shallow wounds. This paste forms a natural bandage that can be left in place for several hours - to remove, just moisten with water.

    How to use

    Powder. Give ¼ tsp of slippery elm powder for every 10 lbs of body weight. Mix the powder into a bit of food, water, or better yet some raw goat milk, greek yogurt or kefir!

    Capsule. Give ¼ capsule twice daily to small dogs, a ½ capsule twice daily to medium dogs, and 1 capsule once or twice daily for large dogs. Mix the contents of the capsule into a bit of food, water, or yogurt.

    Syrup Recipe: Mix 1 rounded teaspoon of slippery elm powder in 1 cup cold water, bring to a boil while stirring, turn down the heat, then stir and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool. You can also add a bit of local honey after you remove from heat as well.

    Syrup Dosage. For dogs under 25 lbs, give 1 to 2 tbsp. Dogs 25-50 lbs, 2 to 4 tbsp. Dogs 50 lbs and over, give ¼ to ½ cup. Dose 4 times a day.

    You can find a very easy to follow recipe right here.

    Timing

    It’s best to give slippery elm apart from meals and supplements by at least 30 minutes to an hour. A separate dose of slippery elm can also be given at bedtime to let it work undisturbed, enhancing the benefits!

    Keep in mind if your dog is on any medication, slippery elm should be given at least 1 to 2 hours before a dose of slippery elm, since the mucilaginous coating can inhibit the absorption.

    Like humans, dogs can get random stomach upset, so it’s imperative to always have some slippery elm on hand for when those happen! I personally take slippery elm myself before I eat something greasy or spicy and it always helps a lot with acid and digestion. My dogs have gotten into chocolate cake, brownies and cooked fried chicken bones in the past and slippery elm saved the day each time. As I mentioned previously, slippery elm works great when introducing a new food or treat, so instead of adding pumpkin as fiber, try out the holy grail of herbs - slippery elm!