Can Dogs Eat Licorice?

This is one of the more controversial topics in pet nutrition. Most dog nutritionists will tell you not to feed black licorice to your dog. Why? Because in even moderate amounts, black licorice can prove toxic and fatal for your canine. In small doses, yes, you can give licorice to your puppy. There are some benefits of doing so. But can dogs eat licorice? Should they? Let’s discuss.

For starters, black licorice is flavored with the extract of the licorice plant. It is an ancient herbal remedy for upset stomach and sore throat. In small amounts, the remedy can show effectiveness for your dog. But when consumed in moderate amounts, licorice root can be toxic.

And that is all because licorice contains the compound “glycyrrhizin”. In high amounts, this compound can raise blood pressure.

Another problem with licorice is that it contains sugar, and that increases the risk of tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes in your dog.

Before we start, if your dog has eaten a big bag of black licorice, go to the vet immediately.

Benefits of Licorice

There are some reasons why owners try to give licorice to dogs. In small amounts, the treat can prove healthy and beneficial. Licorice is a legume and a member of the pea family. The versatile herb has remained part of alternative medicine for centuries. Animals like the taste, making it a convenient and easy-to-use herb.

Licorice contains glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, and other useful substances. One of the glycosides found in licorice, glycyrrhizin, has a chemical structure similar to naturally occurring corticosteroids. While this can have benefits for joint and allergy issues, in large doses, it will raise the blood pressure of your canine.

In very small amounts, licorice enhances the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory process.

How to make your own licorice oil?

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The best way to use licorice is in very small amounts. And we have a recipe you can use for that purpose. Make your own licorice oil infusion.

How to do it? Start by placing chopped licorice root in a glass jar. Add enough olive oil to cover it and then put some extra ½ inches on top. Put a tight-fitting lid on the jar. Place it in a warm cupboard, away from the sun. Leave it there for 30 days, and after that, drain the oil.

Squeeze what you can out of the licorice root. You can use the oil for arthritis and joint pain, itching and burning from allergies, digestive issues, inflammation, pain, liver health, topical anti-itch aid, respiratory issues, and urinary tract infections

How to give licorice to your dog?

The problem with licorice oil is that dogs love the taste of it. They will instantly lick the sweet treat the moment you apply it. Licorice tastes so good, you can use it to mask the taste of other herbs and foods that your dog doesn’t want.

If you want to use it externally, go with the oil we suggested earlier. And if you want to use it internally, use it in a tincture, not dried herbs. For the tincture, the general rule is 12 to 20 drops per 20 pounds of body weight, two times per day. But give licorice to your dog as an internal remedy only if you need to cure a health condition.

If you want to put it in a tea, you need 30 to 60 drops per 20 pounds of body weight, two times per day. Or to put it in simple numbers, steep 1 teaspoon of licorice root in 1 cup of water.

Can licorice be bad for your dog?

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What are the possible side effects and cautions of giving licorice to your dog? Are there any symptoms you should pay attention to?

If your dog eats black licorice candy, keep an eye on some mild gastrointestinal distress. For example, your dog might experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. And if your dog has eaten a large amount of black licorice, contact your vet immediately.

Licorice is a cortisone substance. And like similar substances, it can cause sodium retention and potassium loss. That can result in hypertension, water retention, and low blood potassium.

Without the advice of a qualified practitioner, we suggest using licorice once every two weeks at most. And never use it in diabetic animals, pregnant animals, or nursing animals.

So, what makes licorice bad and toxic for dogs? Licorice contains three ingredients that might cause problems. Those are sugar, glycyrrhizin, and xylitol.

Xylitol is an alternative to sugar. But while sugar is bad, xylitol might be worse. It is very harmful to dogs, and just a small amount of it can poison and kill your dog. Never give your dog anything sugar-free. Why? Because sugar-free means there is xylitol in the ingredient list.

You have to pay attention to your dog if and when he eats black licorice. If he has eaten a large amount, do not wait for the symptoms to show up.

As for a few pieces, your dog might experience the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyper activeness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Change in character

All of these symptoms might gradually get worse. That would warrant a visit to the veterinary office. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend avoiding giving licorice to dogs without a consultation with a certified and licensed practitioner. Dosage is important here, and you do not want to overdo it.

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