How Silver and Gold May Soon Impact Pet Care Products

January 25, 2020 9 min read

Silver and Gold Pet Care Products

What would you do if your dog swallowed silver or gold today?

Panic, right? After all, no pup parent wants to go through the harrowing process of extracting ingested metal from their poor pups.

But what if you were told silver and gold for dogs could cut your antibiotic and antifungal expenses by a big margin?

Now we got your attention.

There are ongoing medical debates on topics surrounding these three words: gold - silver - dogs. One side promotes the idea that gold and silver are actual remedies for various types of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in dogs. The other side is totally against, alarmed that anyone can consider gold and silver safe for dogs - or their humans.

Let’s try to get to the bottom of this, shall we?

In their most basic form, gold and silver are inert and nontoxic. In fact, they are even edible. Extremely thin gold and silver foils (known as vark or varak) have long been used to coat some South Asian sweets, confectionery, dry fruits and spices to give them a unique and decadent appearance.

Fun fact: The human body naturally contains trace amounts of gold. Don’t get too excited though - the average human’s body contains only 0.2 mg of gold. How is this possible? Pure gold is completely inert. This means that it does not chemically react with any other substances due to the stable and balanced configuration of its electrons.

Interestingly, both precious metals - silver and gold - also have bioactive forms wherein individual ions (or charged atoms) are able to interact with cells and proteins. For example, bioactive forms of silver are used in medical applications, primarily for their anti-microbial and wound healing properties.

Fun fact: Silver is often found in mineral form.

The History of Silver

Silver is an ancient antimicrobial agent that has been used for millennia to prevent infections. It is effective in killing a multitude of different microorganisms and has been used to treat numerous infections and noninfectious conditions. Silver also played an important role in the development of radiology and in improving wound healing.

Since the early 18th century, the popularity of silver to treat a variety of diseases and infections increased in the United States. Physicians recommended it to patients because of purported antifungal, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties.

Silver fell from the limelight when modern antibiotic and antifungal medications were introduced in the 1940s.

Pharmaceutical companies began to promote these newly developed and highly profitable synthetic antifungal, antibiotic, and antiviral alternatives.

However, silver still has a place in medicine today and has seen a resurgence in recent years as healthcare providers became increasingly concerned with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Medical uses of silver include wound dressings where silver-coated bandages are used to kill germs that might infect burns and other wounds, creams, and as an antibiotic coating on medical devices such as breathing tubes where it prevents the growth of germs that can lead to complications such as pneumonia.

As we mentioned earlier, bioactive forms of silver such as silver nitrate, silver sulfadiazine, and colloidal silver are used in medical applications – primarily for their anti-microbial and wound healing properties.  Silver exhibits the oligodynamic effect, which is a biocidal (or germ killing) effect of metals, especially heavy metals, that occurs even in low concentrations. In the presence of oxygen, metallic silver can have a bactericidal effect due to the formation of bioactive silver oxide on its surface. This phenomenon causes silver spoons to self-sanitize. Because of its antimicrobial properties, silver is used to coat medical devices such as endotracheal tubes, catheters, and surgical instruments. 

Silver nitrate and silver sulfadiazine have been widely used in the topical chemoprophylactic treatment of wounds, especially for burns and ulcers, and some infections. Topical use of silver in ointments for burns, and impregnation of catheters and other medical equipment with silver, has known benefits.

Silver is an effective antimicrobial agent with low toxicity, which is important especially in the treatment of burn wounds where transient bacteremia is prevalent and its fast control is essential.  

What About Colloidal Silver?

When silver passes through a colloidal suspension process, it breaks up into single atoms, or ions to be more precise, as they lose an electron or two and gain a positive charge. The silver ions cluster into small groups of 15 or less. The positively charged ions are able to attach to protein molecules making them more absorbable by the body.

The positive charge associated with the ion clusters is strong enough to keep them suspended in water despite the metal’s high density which would otherwise cause gravity to pull them out of suspension as they sink to the bottom. In this altered form, colloidal silver can address some of the common fungal, viral, or bacterial diseases and infections in dogs.

Of its various bioactive forms, colloidal silver is perhaps the most controversial. While it can be safely used for topical applications, taking colloidal silver orally is an entirely different thing, and there are no proven benefits from this practice. Colloidal silver should be taken orally only under the direction of a medical practitioner. It accumulates in the body over time, and there are no clinical trials proving the safety or benefits of colloidal silver for oral consumption - certainly none that are double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled (we checked!)

Chronic ingestion or inhalation of silver preparations (especially colloidal silver) can lead to deposition of silver metal/silver sulphide particles in the skin (argyria), eye (argyrosis) and other organs. These are not life-threatening conditions but cosmetically undesirable.

Generally silver exhibits low toxicity in the human body, and minimal risk is expected, but long-term oral use or overuse of certain colloidal silver based drugs may cause cosmetic abnormality or even delay wound healing.

What are the benefits of silver for dogs?

There are clinical trials that have indicated silver has concrete benefits to dogs.

Silver has shown remarkable results in treating various conditions in dogs. Some of the purported benefits include:

  • Disinfecting wounds
  • Treating canine skin conditions
  • Curing conjunctivitis in dogs
  • Dog ear infections

Silver for dogs as an antimicrobial disinfectant

Silver can be applied topically to dogs to disinfect cuts, wounds, and abrasions. By triggering rapid cell regeneration, dogs can recover faster from wounds. For example, a mixture of water and colloidal silver can be applied directly to the wound to speed up the healing process.

If a bandage or any dressing is used to cover the wound, one can sprinkle a little colloidal silver on the bandage/dressing before wrapping the wound.

Silver for dogs with skin conditions

Another topical application of silver is treating acne and alleviating itchy skin in dogs, as well as helping treat causes hot spots and skin rashes. Silver has also been used to address some of the common skin conditions in dogs like Sarcoptic and Demodectic mange.

Some ointments and cosmetic products for treating skin conditions in dogs also contain silver. If your dog is on any medications, always check with the veterinarian before introducing anything new.

Colloidal silver activates skin cell regeneration which speeds up the healing process. This holistic homeopathic remedy should not leave a scab on the dog’s skin unlike some over-the-counter medication.

With the resurgence of interest in silver as there is heightened concern about the overuse of antibiotics, we just might see more pet skincare products embrace the benefits of silver.

Silver for dogs with conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the eye that affects humans and dogs, has also been treated with colloidal silver in the form of eye drops. This condition affects a thin layer of tissue that covers the white of the eye and is also known as the infection called pink eye.

Silver for dogs with ear infections

Dogs get ear infections more frequently than humans because of how their ear canals are shaped. Dogs with floppy ears are particularly vulnerable because their ears can create the perfect environment for bacterial growth. Colloidal silver drops have been used to target such bacteria and clear ear inflammation.

Are there any dangers associated with colloidal silver for dogs?

While we embrace the benefits of silver for dogs, we also have to look at the other side of the coin – especially with regard to colloidal silver. Is colloidal silver for dogs completely safe?

How safe or dangerous silver is for dogs depends on the frequency of usage and dosage. Colloidal silver may pose some serious health issues with prolonged application because it accumulates in the body. One of the common, yet more benign, signs of excess silver absorption for dogs is argyria. Exactly as in humans, the skin develops a blue-gray discoloration due to excess silver and the reactivity of silver under the skin with UV light. Once the argyria symptoms set in, the condition is irreversible.

Another concern is that colloidal silver can hinder the performance of other drugs. Too much colloidal silver in the blood can limit the absorption of other medications like antibiotics and drugs used to treat hypothyroidism.  Speak with your vet before introducing colloidal silver, especially in any oral formulations or large quantities.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Position on Colloidal Silver

While some medical uses of silver are legitimate, none involveoral colloidal silver.

In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that colloidal silver products could no longer be promoted for the treatment and/or prevention of any disease. Colloidal silver products marketed for medical purposes or promoted for unproven uses are now considered "misbranded" under the law without appropriate FDA approval as a new drug. There are currently no FDA-approved oral over-the-counter or prescription drugs containing silver that are taken by mouth.

However, colloidal silver products can be sold as homeopathic remedies and dietary supplements, and topical products are available.

Gold for Dogs

While silver is well known for destroying disease-related pathogens, advocates of gold usage purport that it is rejuvenating for the mind, body, and soul. They believe that gold helps in three main things:

  • A natural mood booster
  • Rejuvenating the body
  • Managing joint inflammation

Gold also exhibits the oligodynamic effect, which is a biocidal (or germ killing) effect of metals, especially heavy metals, that occurs even in low concentrations.  

Further, gold is said to increase brain function and increase the capacity of the pineal gland.

Gold in ancient times

Gold has been used throughout the ages for treating skin ulcers, arthritic inflammation, and burns. Gold was also used to treat impotence and raise nerve-end activity. Gold was believed to have a harmonizing effect on the body which was useful for ending negative feelings such as fear, melancholy, despair, and depression. Gold was said to cure all the sicknesses that were referred to as “ailments of the heart.”

Gold for dogs with arthritis

Gold has been a vital ingredient for treating rheumatoid arthritis in humans for years. But it was only recently that scientists discovered how this metal actually works to alleviate arthritic pain.

In the quest to find a new cure for autoimmune diseases, a group of cell biologists discovered a biochemical mechanism in which a core protein in autoimmune diseases, MHC Class 11 protein, was suppressed by colloidal gold. Bacteria and viruses survive on this protein which when rendered inactive by gold leads to the death of the pathogens. This discovery suggests that suppressing this important protein, could lead to promising treatments for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Given these findings, there is potential that colloidal gold would also be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis in dogs.

Gold for dogs with joint problems

Gold can be used to treat hip dysplasia in dogs. In the early 70’s, a veterinary surgeon suggested the implantation of gold grains into acupressure points in dogs. The idea was that the grains would stimulate acupuncture stimulation of the points. Through a double-blind experiment, this surgeon used family dogs suffering with hip dysplasia by dividing them into two groups. One group received gold grains implants while the other acted as the control group. The dogs that were implanted gold grains recovered faster from hip dysplasia than the dogs in the control group.

Gold for dogs with cognitive problems

A study conducted on colloidal gold discovered that taking colloidal gold orally could help improve brain function. This same study also showed that the cognitive functions of participants returned to normal when supplementation with colloidal gold was stopped. The potential may exist for colloidal gold to improve the cognitive function of both humans and animals.

Colloidal gold for dogs’ moods

In humans, gold helps stabilize the mental and emotional state of patients with anxiety, depression, or sadness. Supplementing with colloidal gold could also help dogs that suffer from canine anxiety or are generally lethargic.

Gold for dogs’ body rejuvenation

In ancient alchemy, gold was ingested as a way of purifying the body. In the late 1990s, gold implants were used to repair inflamed joints to reduce pain and speed up the healing process. A study conducted in 2007 revealed that implanting gold beads in dogs suffering from hip dysplasia helped reduce joint pain significantly. Gold has also been used to relax the glands which help in regulating body temperature. This helps reduce incidences of hot flashes and sweaty nights in both humans and animals.

Other benefits of gold for dogs include:

  • DNA repair
  • Relaxation of the body
  • Boosting canine vitality and longevity
  • Boosting the immune system of dogs
  • Raising energy levels and promoting a feeling of well-being in dogs.

Gold is non-toxic but an allergy is always a possibility. If there are doubts, it is best to test any new topical product for a contact dermatitis allergic reaction before applying to a large area. This can be done by applying first to a very small area of the skin.

Pup tip: Get a vet's approval before administering any new products or remedies. If you notice any negative reaction, stop immediately and take your dog for a checkup.



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