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Boswellia Serrata For Dogs: The Secret To Soothing Aching Joints

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on February 25, 2022

Sadly, most dogs experience some type of joint pain in their lives. Some get it early in life, while others have deteriorating joints as they age. It’s heartbreaking to watch our furry friends struggle to run around, play, or climb stairs. Yet, your dog doesn’t have to suffer. Several ingredients can tackle a pet’s joint inflammation early on, including Boswellia serrata for dogs.

Boswellia serrata’s primary benefit for dogs is promoting healthy joints, but there are plenty of other concerns it can assist with too. So, what is this unusual ingredient, and how can it help your canine feel young and energetic again?

Golden Retriever limping

What is Boswellia Serrata?

Boswellia serrata, also known as Indian frankincense, is an herbal extract taken from a Boswellia tree. The tree is native to India, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. It’s suspected that the biblical frankincense is the resin of the Boswellia tree. Ancient Egyptians may have also used it for preserving corpses and treating skin wounds.

Researchers believe that humans once observed elephants feeding on Boswellia serrata trees. The elephants who ate the trees seemed to live longer, healthier lives, so doctors suspected that parts of the plant could benefit humans, as well. So, when humans started consuming it, they also noticed improvements in health and mobility.

In Boswellia serrata supplements, the gum extract of the plant is what’s usually used. The active components in this herb are types of boswellic acids, including alpha, beta, and 11-keto-beta. The herb also has xylose, arabinose, galactose, essential oils, uranic acid, and beta sitisterin to give the ingredient its many benefits.

Boswellia serrata tree

Over the years, Boswellia serrata has been used to treat joint diseases, nervousness, diarrhea, urinary disorders, and severe menstrual cramps in humans. Today, the herbal extract is primarily used to treat inflammation, specifically in joints. It seems that the plant has anti-inflammatory effects for our furry friends too.

Related: The 10 Best Calming Supplements for Dogs

Is Boswellia Serrata Safe for Dogs?

Yes, Boswellia is a safe and natural ingredient for canines. Your dog is unlikely to have any side effects with the proper dosage. It can be a safer alternative to medications used for inflammation.

Even though there are limited studies related to Boswellia serrata for dogs, the research shows that Boswellia has positive effects on the whole body. Both humans and dogs can reap the benefits with few risks, but be sure to discuss it with a vet before giving it to your dog.

Is Boswellia Serrata Gum Extract Safe for Dogs?

Yes, most Boswellia serrata products are made with the gum extract of the plant. So, it’s the safest and most common form of the ingredient. On its own, the gum resin looks like small yellow rocks. Ensure no unhealthy or dangerous items are used with Boswellia serrata gum before giving it to your dog.

Boswellia gum extract

Canine Boswellia Serrata Study

Many natural ingredients for dogs lack the research they need to prove their effects. Luckily, Boswellia serrata has some evidence for its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2004 study focused on dogs with osteoarthritis and other joint diseases. They put the dogs on a treatment using Boswellia serrata.

Within six weeks, 71% of the dogs had reduced symptoms. They had less joint pain and increased smoothness of gait. So, even though not every dog in the study had significant improvements, it still helped the majority of canines. No medication or supplement is guaranteed to benefit every dog, but the odds are promising with this herb.

Also, no studies have been done on how Boswellia serrata could affect dogs after long-term use. Yet, there are no known risks for dogs continuously taking the herb, as long as you use a proper dosage.

What Does Boswellia Serrata Do for Dogs?

Boswellia serrata is most commonly known as an anti-inflammatory ingredient. Yet, there are a few more critical areas of your dog’s health that it can improve. Here are the main benefits of Boswellia serrata extract for dogs.

Improves Joint Health

Dogs are always walking on four legs, which puts more stress on their joints than it would for humans. Luckily, Boswellia serrata’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce canine joint pain. The herb prevents your dog’s body from producing a specific type of leukotriene. The triterpenes in Boswellia inhibit an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase to get rid of leukotrienes in the body.

Leukotrienes are chemicals that the body releases when it comes into contact with a trigger, whether it’s aching joints, allergens, or a type of injury. With less of those leukotrienes, less inflammation will occur around your dog’s joints. Boswellia also shrinks inflamed tissue, improves blood supply, and repairs damaged blood vessels to improve joint health.

Using Boswellia serrata regularly slows cartilage damage, allowing your pup to have healthy joints even in their senior years. So, it’s a good idea to give your canine a joint supplement with this ingredient before symptoms are severe.

Anxious dog laying down

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Manages Skin Irritation

Since Boswellia serrata inhibits leukotriene production, it can benefit other areas of inflammation beyond just aching joints. It may be able to soothe some skin issues, especially if they’re related to allergies.

However, if your dog’s allergies are caused by food or other allergen that your dog is exposed to regularly, you should try removing the allergen if possible. Boswellia serrata can soothe inflamed skin, but it can’t fix the problem completely if a more serious concern causes it.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Fewer leukotrienes can also reduce soreness, swelling, and tenderness in your dog’s digestive tract. So, Boswellia serrata can reduce the symptoms of certain digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal issues. It can reduce the risk of diarrhea, gas, and bloody stools in some dogs.

A study from 2015 showed that the extract from this plant could preserve the lining in human intestines and digestive tracts. So, it’s suspected to benefit a dog’s body parts similarly.

While anti-inflammatory drugs can sometimes negatively affect your canine’s digestive tract, this herb does the opposite. Boswellia serrata won’t harm your dog’s digestion, blood pressure, or heart rate, which is why it’s sometimes used in the place of other drugs.

Some signs of gastrointestinal issues in dogs include gas, diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss, vomiting, and fatigue. If these symptoms persist or worsen, you should contact a vet. Boswellia serrata can aid digestion, but it won’t cure underlying diseases related to gastrointestinal problems.

Reduces Disease Symptoms

Boswellia serrata may also reduce chronic inflammation caused by diseases like cancer, asthma, and colitis. This herb may reduce brain swelling for canine cancer, causing less pain when brain tumors are present. Boswellia is rarely suggested for benefitting these more severe conditions, but it’s an added benefit that many dog parents don’t realize. If you think your dog is suffering from a chronic disease, speak to your vet immediately.

Dog laying in grass

Signs of Joint Pain in Dogs

Many dogs experience joint problems like arthritis, especially as they age. Spotting the early signs of joint pain is crucial so you can help your dog before symptoms worsen. The sooner you get your dog on a joint supplement, the more comfortable they’ll be in their adult and senior years.

Here are some common signs of joint pain in dogs:

  • Limping
  • Stiff joints
  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to run or jump
  • Sudden aggression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Accidents

If your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to visit a vet before taking matters into your own hands. A vet can confirm whether or not your dog’s behaviors are related to their joints.

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What Causes Joint Problems?

Joints deteriorate with age no matter what, but some factors could speed up the process. Some joint issues develop at birth, so it may depend on your dog’s breed and history. Larger dogs are more likely to suffer from joint diseases like osteoarthritis, but dogs of all ages and sizes can be affected by joint pain. Sadly, one in five dogs suffers from arthritis.

Dogs can experience joint pain at any age. So, here are a few reasons your dog might develop joint issues.

Straining Joints

Straining joints and hips too much could cause excess wear and tear. If you have a small dog, make sure they’re not jumping on and off high objects too often. If you have a senior dog, you may need to limit their exercise. Instead of taking one long, stressful walk, you can take them for several shorter walks throughout the day. Your dog’s abilities will change as they age, so find ways to adjust their routines to keep them comfortable.


Obesity is another factor that leads to joint pain. Sadly, over half the dogs in the world are overweight. About 40% of dogs with arthritis are also overweight. Extra weight causes your dog’s joints to work harder, making pain develop sooner. Helping your dog lose weight can lead to fewer joint problems in the long run. Changing your dog’s diet or implementing an exercise routine could help manage your pup’s weight.

Overweight Labrador Retriever

Other Causes of Inflammation

Joint pain isn’t the only type of inflammation that Boswellia serrata can heal. There are lots of parts of your dog’s body that could benefit from reduced irritation. Here are a few other causes of inflammation that dogs may experience.

Leaky Gut

About 70% to 80% of your dog’s immune system is in their gut. So, the amount of bacteria in your dog’s gut can significantly affect the state of their immune system as a whole. Unbalanced microorganisms in your dog’s gut can lead to internal inflammation. Giving your dog a diet with prebiotics and probiotics can reduce that risk.

Improper Diet

Kibble that’s too processed could also cause inflammation in your pet’s body. Too many grains, lectin, gluten, and potatoes might not agree with your dog’s stomach. So, if your dog’s food isn’t agreeing with them, you may want to switch their diet. A limited ingredient diet with fewer carbohydrates may be beneficial. Of course, Boswellia serrata and other anti-inflammation supplements can provide relief too.

Unnecessary Drugs

Certain medications could also hurt your dog’s body instead of helping it. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) shouldn’t be used unless necessary because they could cause discomfort for dogs if used too much. That’s why some dog parents use natural methods like Boswellia serrata instead. Only give NSAIDs to your dog as directed by your vet.

How Much Boswellia Serrata is Safe for Dogs?

The Boswellia serrata dosage for dogs varies based on a pet’s weight, age, and medical history. So, the best way to determine a proper dose is to ask your vet. Most supplements that include Boswellia serrata will list the dosage on the container, but it’s still a good idea to confirm that amount with a medical professional first.

A dog should generally take between five and ten milligrams per pound of bodyweight with each dose, but about six milligrams is ideal. The Boswellia serrata dosage for large and small dogs follows the same formula. For example, a 50-pound dog could be given approximately 300 mg per dose. You may want to start with a smaller than normal dose to ensure your dog doesn’t have any reactions. Then, slowly work your way up to the full dose.

Experts suggest that you give your dog their dose of Boswellia serrata twice a day for two weeks. Then, if you want to continue using the supplement for maintenance, you can cut the dosage in half and continue giving it as a preventative for joint problems.

Sad puppy resting

Risks of Boswellia Serrata for Dogs

Boswellia serrata only has a few minor side effects for dogs, including diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, and hyperacidity. These mild issues will likely only occur if their dosage is too high.

Luckily, Boswellia serrata isn’t a common canine allergy, but dogs can develop allergies to any natural substances. If you notice symptoms like excessive licking, hair loss, eye discharge, irritated skin, itching, or sneezing after giving your dog Boswellia, they likely have a sensitivity to it. If that’s the case, stop feeding them the product right away and find a different joint supplement to give them.

Can Dogs Eat Human Boswellia Serrata Products?

If possible, avoid giving your dog Boswellia serrata supplements made for humans. While the herb itself is a safe, natural ingredient, the product could contain additives and preservatives that aren’t safe for dogs. Always look closely at the ingredients of a product before giving it to your pup. It’s always safest to choose products that are made specifically for canines.

Are There Any Drug Interactions?

Even though Boswellia serrata is a low-risk ingredient, it may interact with other drugs. Here are a few medications to avoid if you’re giving your dog this herb:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as carprofen, tramadol, and meloxicam
  • Antibiotics like cyclosporine and erythromycin
  • Blood pressure medications

Before you start giving your dog a Boswellia serrata supplement, tell your vet all the other medications and supplements they’re taking. That’s the best way to ensure that no complications will occur. A vet can tell you if this herb is safe to take with your dog’s other medications.

Boswellia serrata plant
Wikimedia Commons

Other Inflammation-Reducing Herbs

Boswellia serrata works well when paired with similar herbs. Some pet parents choose to combine it with yucca, Cornus, or meadowsweet because they can assist in reducing joint pain.

Another ingredient that’s similar to Boswellia is curcumin. It’s a natural compound similar to turmeric. Like Boswellia, it can benefit your dog’s joint health, especially if they’re already developing arthritis. It may not be as effective as Boswellia, but the two can be used together to prevent joint and cartilage damage.

How to Serve Boswellia Serrata to Your Furry Friend

There are several ways to serve Boswellia serrata to dogs. If you want to give your dog straight Boswellia, you can purchase it in the form of resin, cream, or pills. You may need to hide these forms of the herb in your dog’s food or a tasty treat if your dog is picky. Boswellia serrata on its own usually isn’t appealing for dogs.

Some brands also carry joint supplements that contain Boswellia serrata in them. In these supplements, the herb is paired with other ingredients that can also reduce inflammation. These supplements usually come in pills, liquids, or chewables. Chewable supplements are great for picky eaters because they often look and smell just like treats. So, your dog will think they’re getting a snack instead of something healthy.

Before you decide which form of Boswellia serrata is best for your dog, you’ll need to do your research. Ensure the supplement comes from a company you trust that uses ingredients you feel comfortable giving your dog. When in doubt, ask your vet’s advice on a product.

Flavorful and Healthy!

There’s an overwhelming amount of products to choose from to help with dog joint pain. One option is the iHeartDogs Advanced 8-in-1 Hip & Joint Chews. These chewable supplements are small, tasty treats that many dogs enjoy. They can help ease inflammation-related pain, prevent long-term joint damage, and improve mobility.

iHeartDogs mobility chews

In addition to Boswellia serrata, these chews include glucosamine HCI, omega-rich organic hemp powder, MSM, chondroitin, green-lipped mussels, and organic turmeric. Together, all these ingredients can keep canine joints healthy while also improving their skin, heart, and activity levels. Plus, every container purchased donates 14 healthy meals to shelter dogs. So, you’ll be saving dogs in need while also improving your own pet’s health.

We can’t stop dogs from getting older, but we can reduce the discomfort they face. Boswellia serrata for dogs is one of many inflammation-reducing ingredients that your furry friend can benefit from. So, consider using a supplement with this herb to help your canine feel young again!

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