Skullcap (Scutellaria spp.) is an herbaceous perennial plant, a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Skullcap commonly serves as an ingredient in herbal medicines for both people and pets. Whether fresh, dried or in tincture form, skullcap is generally considered safe for dogs if administered under the care of a veterinarian.
Skullcap was once thought to cure rabies, which is how it obtained the nickname "mad dog weed." The herb commonly serves to calm nervous or irritated dogs and to help those recovering from surgery or trauma, according to the Aspenbloom Pet Care website. Unlike other calming herbs, including valerian, passion flower and chamomile, skullcap doesn't cause drowsiness. Some vets even use skullcap tinctures and capsules to treat canine epilepsy, according to The Bark website. Before giving your pup skullcap or any other supplements, consult your veterinarian regarding its administration and whether it's appropriate for your dog.
While skullcap's not considered toxic, if your dog eats part of a skullcap plant, he may experience mild stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea. If your pup overdoses on skullcap given as an herbal medication, it can cause confusion, stupor and seizures, and even liver damage and lung inflammation, according to "Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care." Seek immediate veterinary help if you believe your pup has overdosed on skullcap. Don't confuse skullcap, a plant, with autumn skullcap (Galerina autumnalis), a type of mushroom that's highly poisonous to people and dogs, according to North Carolina State University.
By Susan Paretts
Aspenbloom Pet Care: Skullcap: The Calming Herb
Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care; Sylvia Escott-Stump
The Bark: Holistic Treatments for Epilepsy in Dogs
North Carolina State University: Galerina autumnalis
Sweeten Creek Animal and Bird Hospital: Plants With Reported Toxicity to Animals
Missouri Botanical Garden: Scutellaria incana
About the Author
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.