Dog's diarrhea

Potenitilla erecta (vel  Potentilla tormentilla) – wonderful herb for a dog diarrhea

* When talking about preparing and dosing any herbal tea for dogs I am only considering adult dogs. Do not use herbal teas in pregnant or lactating animals or in puppies (unless otherwise indicated).

I’m using the Latin name of this herb because its common name may be different in each country (for instance in English “cinquefoils” or ‘”potentilla” may refer to different species of that plant). Although many plants of Potentilla genus have some healing properties, in this article I’m talking about that particular plant called in Latin ”Potentilla erecta”.

Here in Poland this herb is considered an ordinary and common native plant however it’s not so easy to find in nature. It took me a lot of time to come across that little rascal ;-). I dug the plant up and since then it has been growing happily in my garden. Each year I collect the herb in bloom and dry it for future use for people and animals. It never let us down.

The whole plant has anti-inflammatory, anti-hemorrhagic, antiseptic, detoxifying and astringent properties but the rhizome is the most abundant in tannins which are useful in curing all kinds of diarrhea.

The role of  P.erecta  tannins in the treatment of diarrhea has been also documented. For example in the year 2003, in St. Petersburg Children’s Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases, a randomized double-blind controlled trial was conducted on 40 children suffering from rotavirus-induced acute diarrhea. Little patients were given an extract from the rhizome of Potentilla erecta – 3 drops for each year of life, 3 times a day. In children treated with extract, the duration of diarrhea was reduced to 3 days compared to 5 days in the placebo group and they needed much less of oral rehydration solutions under the treatment.

This modest and unobtrusive perennial really deserves its name coming out from the Latin word “potens” meaning powerful!

In 2009 a group of scholars, this time from Kansas U.S checked Potenilla erecta for toxicity. Laboratory mice and rats were stuffed with an aquatic extract from the plant or had it administered intragastrically and intraperitoneally. I deliberately used an expression “stuffed with” (meaning to fill up someone or something with something ) because usually in this type of experiments, an overdosing is a normal procedure.

Despite it, no rodent died nor any pathological changes in the internal organs were discovered.

In (Polish) veterinary medicine, the rhizome of Potentilla erecta herb (up to 1960s) was listed as an anti-diarrhoeal drug for animals. According to these old sources, a dose of rhizome would be from 1 up to even 5 grams (use in a form of decoction ! – not as a powder added to your dog food).

Do you know how to make a decoction?  It is easy. Put the right amount of rhizome into a pot, pour the right amount of cold water (usually it is a cup of water – around 200 ml ), bring to boil gently, simmer for some time,  (5 minutes will be enough) then strain and let cool. If during heating, the volume of fluid decreases, boiled water should be added to it, bringing the content to the initial amount.

Dosing: roughly (it depends also on fluid strength) – 1 teaspoon of decoction (5 ml) per 10 kg of body weight once or twice daily. In drops to very tiny dogs – e.g 20 drops per serving. Do not use longer than 2 days.

ATTENTION:  the proper dose of any herbs must be tailored to your dog individual needs. There is no precise dosing for everybody. No herb is standardized for a number of chemical compounds it contains. Soil, climate, harvest time and drying methods can deeply affect herbs power, making them stronger or weaker in action or sometimes even quite useless (so always buy herbs only from reputable sources or better  gather them yourself.) Remember that roots are always stronger than plant leaves, stables or flowers and decoction is stronger than infusion.

A good rule of thumb is: always start on a fairly small dose! Take a pinch of Potentilla erecta rhizome to make a decoction. Carry out a small trial before your dog has fallen ill to observe its reaction to strength and dosing of decoction, look for any side effects.  Potentila rhizome is strong and powerful medicine. Overdosing can irritate the gastrointestinal system (or even kidneys). Your dog can be also individually allergic to that or any herb, so watery eyes, running nose or scratching or licking paws can be a warning sign for you to stop using the herb.

My little dog Blacky, suffering from chronic pancreatitis, finds Potentila erecta rhizome decoction too strong for her. If a need arises I give her an infusion made only from leaves and flowers of that herb. It also works perfectly ( usually one dose is enough ) and doesn’t irritate her guts so much.

As it can be hard to get Potentila erecta aerial (above-ground) parts available ( if you can’t find the plant in nature or can’t grow it), use the rhizome carefully and reasonable. At the beginning the fewer the better.

I do not mix any herbal fluid with food, I believe herbs act much weaker being given that way. My dogs (and Mr.Cat as well) get their herbal teas with the aid of syringe (without the needle of course!) some 30 minutes before eating, always warm. That way I can control the exact amount of  “medicine” taken by an animal.

All that herbal work can seem to be a little bit troublesome and believe me, I would also prefer just to buy some proper pills in a vet office. But in many cases, it is not enough and herbal support can be crucial for your animal health and well being.



1. Subbotina MD, Timchenko VN, Vorobyov MM, Konunova YS, Aleksandrovih YS, Shushunov S

Effect of oral administration of tormentil root extract (Potentilla tormentilla) on rotavirus diarrhea in children: a randomized, double blind, controlled trial. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Aug;22(8):706-11.

Accessed 20.04.2018:

2. Shushunov S,Balashov L,Kravtsova A, Krasnogorsky I,Latte KP,Vasiliev A

Determination of acute toxicity of the aqueous extract of Potentilla erecta (Tormentil) rhizomes in rats and mice. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1173-6. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0281.

Accessed 20.04.2018:

3. Prof.Dr.Adam Szwabowicz  Receptura Weterynaryjna Tom I   PWN Wrocław 1952

4. J .Mozgow  Farmakologia weterynaryjna PWRiL  Warszawa 1951

5.Wacław Minakowski Receptura lekarsko-weterynaryjna .Państwowy Instytut Wydawnictw Rolniczych Warszawa 1949

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