Is colloidal silver safe for cats?

If you ask Google to find answers to the question in the title it finds websites owned by commercial enterprises with an interest in selling colloidal silver. Not good, right? These sites recommend colloidal silver as a general cure-all treatment both internally and externally for cats. And dogs. The tone of the articles is that colloidal silver is safe and beneficial for animals. Jump forward and do the same search to see if it safe for humans. You obtain a completely different answer. One which tells me that we don’t know about colloidal silver, science does not support its use for humans and it may cause harm. Confused?

Colloidal silver for pets?
Colloidal silver for pets? Image: MikeB
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment written by visitors. It is a way visitors can contribute to animal welfare without much effort and no financial cost. Please comment. It helps this website too which at heart is about cat welfare.

The top site (May 16, 2023) as found by Google on asking the question in the title is Authentica which is gushing in its praise for colloidal silver for pets. They say: “The main reason why it’s amazing is that it works in harmony with the body’s cells and tissues and is effective as an antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial treatment that doesn’t destroy the delicate balance of the gut microbiome essential to a good immune response”.

That sentiment is supported by other top-ranking sites such as Land of Holistic Pets and Woofur, both organisation selling holistic medical services. Woofur recommends that it is taken internally as a dropper on food making it very easy to administer as it is more or less tasteless.

Now ask the shortened question: “Is colloidal silver safe?” and the top Google search result is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advice. That organisation bluntly states that “colloidal silver isn’t safe or effective for treating any disease or condition.”

The whole tenor of their advice is very negative about using colloidal silver. It is directed at human use but by implication we have to include pets. For example, they say, “silver has no known functions or benefits in the body when taken by mouth, and it is not an essential mineral.”

And that “silver can cause serious side effects” such as argyria (turning blue). It can also cause poor absorption of conventional drugs such as antibiotics which is ironic as people use colloidal silver as an alternative to antibiotics. And finally, they say it can cause immune system, liver and kidney problems.

Afficionados of colloidal silver will probably believe that the FDA are dinosaurs and unenlightened about unconventional medicines. Fair point but we have to rely in science and fact were possible and put to one side anecdotal information (stories from cat owners who have little or no medical knowledge and experience).

A clear problem is that a cat owner can deliver colloidal silver to their cat in the hope that it might cure a medical condition knowing that the outcome is uncertain. It’ll be an experiment almost. The owner may have become desperate because the vet couldn’t help or they couldn’t afford the vet. But they would not do the same ‘experiment’ – hit and hope – on themselves.

The bottom line in answering the question in the title is that we don’t know and that it probably is not safe for cats. Because there is uncertainty about its safety it should not be used. Caregivers can’t take risks with their cats health unless they are absolutely at their wits end and desperate with no other options but to take risks.

Years ago, I wrote an article about treating FIV with colloidal silver. I updated the page years later. FIV is a bad disease. It is a killer. Owners will be distraught and motivated to try anything to cure the disease. The sellers of holistic treatments ranked highly by Google will encourage them to try colloidal silver. They’ll leap at the chance.

But rationally this treatment should not be used as it is too risky. It may do harm rather than help. Sorry for the negative review but the contrast between using it for people and pets is stark. The reason? Humans don’t value the lives of pets as highly as humans despite all we say that they are members of the family. This is speciesism. It underpins the entire human-to-cat relationship.

I am not against holistic treatments. In fact, I am for them. But I am also for science and rational thought. For instance I support some homeopathic treatments which have definitively been proven to be effective such as curing mange in foxes.

Why isn’t Integrative/Holistic Veterinary Medicine More Widely Accepted?

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