What is chamomile?
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is an herbal supplement used in dogs and rarely in cats as a sedative, an anti-inflammatory, and a muscle relaxant. It has been used both topically to treat inflamed skin, and internally to treat inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions, such as stomach ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. It has also been used to help with mild anxiety.
Dietary supplements are substances that can be used to supplement the diet, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, botanicals, enzymes, and probiotics. While many supplements are sold over the counter, they still contain ingredients that have biological effects that should be managed by your veterinarian. Follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.
"Follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label."
There are differences in how countries regulate supplements. In the United States, these substances are not as vigorously regulated by the FDA as other medications, which means they can be sold without the manufacturer proving their effectiveness, safety, and without a guarantee of consistent or accurately reported ingredients. In Canada, products that have been evaluated for quality, safety, and effectiveness by Health Canada and authorized for sale will have a license number on the label.
How effective is chamomile?
Limited studies in animals have been performed, but there is some anecdotal evidence that chamomile works to treat inflammation and gastrointestinal upset.
How is chamomile given?
Chamomile is given by mouth in the form of a tea, powder, liquid, or capsule, or is used topically in the form of an oil, salve, or cream. It can be given with or without food, but if stomach upset occurs when given on an empty stomach, give future doses with food. Do not give more than prescribed as high doses may be toxic. Measure liquid forms very carefully.
What if I miss giving my pet the supplement?
If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.
Are there any potential side effects?
Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding side effects is also limited. In rare cases, sensitivity to chamomile can cause vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation, or allergic reactions. Cats may be particularly sensitive to the side effects.
Are there any risk factors for this supplement?
Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding risk factors is also limited. Chamomile should not be used in pets that are allergic to it or have an allergy to plants in the daisy family (such as ragweed), as rare but severe allergic reactions are possible. It should be used cautiously in pregnant, lactating, very young, sick, or debilitated pets.
"Do not give more than prescribed as high doses may be toxic."
Chamomile should be used cautiously in cats. Do not give more than prescribed as high doses may be toxic.
Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?
The following medications should be used with caution when given with chamomile: warfarin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or sedatives.
Vitamins, herbal therapies, and supplements have the potential to interact with each other, as well as with prescription and over the counter medications. It is important to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including all vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.
Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this supplement?
There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.
How do I store chamomile?
In general, chamomile should be stored in a cool, dry place at room temperature. There are many forms and preparations of chamomile supplements, so always follow the specific directions on the label.
What should I do in case of emergency?
If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.