A number of holistic products exist that can be very beneficial to a cat’s health. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of people mentioning colloidal silver. It made me wonder, is colloidal silver safe for cats? I did some digging and found some interesting results.
What is Colloidal Silver?
Colloidal silver is a solution made of silver particles suspended in water. It has been used as an antiseptic and antibiotic since the ancient times. Colloidal silver is known for its ability to fight off bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. It works by attaching itself to the offending pathogens and interfering with the way they metabolize oxygen. The healthy flora and fauna of the intestinal system are anaerobic (they don’t need oxygen to survive) so they are not affected in the same way.
Colloidal silver lost popularity with people and pets when conventional antibiotics started showing up on the scene in the 1930’s. With people becoming more concerned about their health and their pets’ health, holistic solutions like colloidal silver are coming back into popularity. Dr. Oz even spoke about how he and his family use it on his show.
At it turns out, colloidal silver can be used in cats in a very similar way to the way it is used in humans. Holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker has suggested using colloidal silver on your cat to treat several different feline health problems including:
Another holistic veterinarian, Dr. Christina Chambreau, would add stomatitis to that list. It can be applied topically or given orally to cats.
Important note: Always talk to your veterinarian if you believe your pet may be ill. Self-diagnosing an illness can be a very dangerous mistake – especially since cats mask symptoms very well.
Controversy: Is Colloidal Silver Safe?
If you have done an internet search for “is colloidal silver safe”, you probably noticed that there is a large amount of controversy surrounding it in the medical world. One of the biggest critics of colloidal silver is the FDA. Since 1998 the FDA has banned colloidal silver from use in both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Why did the FDA ban it? They claim that there is no scientific evidence proving that it can do any of the things that manufacturers of the product claim it can. Critics also note that the silver particles can build up in the skin, brain, kidneys, spleen, liver, and brain. It can also lead to argyria, a very rare condition in which the skin permanently turns blue.
So is colloidal silver safe for cats?
When purchasing colloidal silver, you need to do your research. There are 3 different types of products that all tend to be labeled “colloidal silver,” but don’t necessarily have the same safety or benefits; ionic silver, silver protein mixtures, and true colloidal silver. There are differences in the ways each of these are made and in the balance between silver particles and silver ions.
Ionic silver is the most common product to be called “colloidal silver.”This has a larger amount of silver ions and a smaller amount of silver particles. The lower amount of silver particles makes this a very inexpensive type of “colloidal silver” to manufacture. All of the “colloidal silver” generators that can be purchased for home use actually create ionic silver.
You will know when you are using ionic silver because it is clear in color (like water). It must be stored in a dark-colored glass container. Light will degrade its quality and it will gradually erode plastic.
In this case is “colloidal silver” safe for cats? Yes, if used topically and the manufacturer’s dosage guidelines are followed. Can this turn your cat’s skin blue? Yes, but it takes chronic overuse of the product (very large doses). It can take years to begin to develop argyria.
Important note: Since the density of the silver particles varies from product to product, it is impossible to give accurate general dosing advice. Discuss the correct dosage for your cat with your holistic veterinarian.
Silver Protein Mixtures
Silver protein mixtures are the next most common product that gets labeled “colloidal silver.” Of the 3 types, these are the ones you should avoid. They are made of large metallic silver molecules and a binding protein. Those metallic silver molecules are so large that they don’t stay suspended in the water, they settle at the bottom. The protein that is used keeps them suspended in the water.
You will know that a “colloidal silver” is actually a silver protein mixture if it is amber to almost black in color. Silver protein mixtures will foam when you shake them. This foam will last a few minutes.
In this case, is “colloidal silver” safe for cats? Not so much. Silver protein mixtures are the most likely to cause blue skin and they are the least effective.
True Colloidal Silver
Believe it or not, true colloidal silver is the least common of the three products typically labeled “colloidal silver.” It is a very complex process to create it (thus there are no home generators for it). It has a very high concentration of silver particles (50-80%) and a lower concentration of silver ions.
You will know a true colloidal silver because it will be dark in color, but it will not foam when shaken. Also, it can be stored in clear and/or plastic containers. It is not sensitive to light and won’t damage the plastic.
In this case, is colloidal silver safe for cats? Absolutely. This is the most effective form of colloidal silver. It can be taken internally because it won’t react with the Hydrochloric Acid in the cat’s stomach. Due to the low number of silver ions, it is highly unlikely that this would ever turn your kitty’s skin blue.
Do you or someone you know ever use colloidal silver with their cat?
Resources & Digging Deeper
- Silver Colloids Product Reports
- Colloidal Silver on WebMD
- FDA Ruling on Colloidal Silver
- New Guidelines for Safe Usage of Colloidal Silver
- Research on Antibiotics Reveals Silver Acts as a Booster, While Mixing Certain Antibiotics with Statins Can Be Devastating
- Silver Enhances Antibiotic Activity Against Gram-Negative Bacteria
- Metals as Antiseptics and Disinfectants