Castor oil has been used by humans for thousands of years. It was even reported that it was likely that Cleopatra used castor oil as a base for her makeup. And it has been known to induce labor in pregnant women that have taken one to three teaspoons of it. But little has been said about itseffect on animals.

In the early twentieth century, there was an American researcher named Walter Bradford Cannon who noted that when castor oil was given to an animal with its food, “there was a serial sectioning of the food in the ascending colon followed each time by antiperistalsis which swept the food backa type of action well fitted to clear out the haustra of the colon, ‘those pockets which in colonic sluggishness must tend to become especially dirty.'In other words, the castor oil cleansed the colon, particularly the pockets in which debris would normally build up.

I’ve never given my dog castor oil, but for years, have added wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil to his food about three times a week. Castor oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, as well as vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals. It is made up primarily of ricinoleic acid which is beneficial for the skin and hair. It is not toxic for pets but should be used sparingly. I plan to begin giving my dog castor oil in the liquid form, not pill form, about 1 teaspoon twice a week and then monitor his skin and fur. For cats, who are far more finicky, I would try 1/2 teaspoon once a week, but this may need to be added to canned salmon, which is what W.B. Cannon did in his experiments.

Here’s to a healthy, happy new year!

References: (1) W.B. Cannon, physiologist, professor and chairman of the Department of Physiology at Harvard Medical School. (2) The Oil That Heals, A Physicians Successes With Castor Oil Treatments, William A. McGarey, MD