Can Dogs Eat Licorice? Is It Bad or Good?

Licorice, liquorice (British English spelling) or Glycyrrhiza glabra is a “perennial plant of the pea family, native to the Mediterranean region and cultivated in temperate and subtropical areas. It bears spikes of blue flowers,” notes Enyclopedia.com.

Its other names are sweet root, black sugar, Reglissa, Liquirizia, Gan-Cao, Spanish licorice, among many others depending on your location.

Licorice plant and dogs
Licorice plant and dogs

Although you can also use licorice leaves, it is its root that is mainly used to flavor tobacco, medicines, beverages, and confectionaries. Furthermore, folk medicine also uses this herb for medicinal purposes.

Finally, evaporating its root extract makes the licorice stick, and it has a sweet flavor. Did you know that it is 50 times sweeter than sucrose?

Can dogs have licorice?

Yes. Dogs can eat licorice roots and leaves. It is ok, i.e., not harmful, toxic or poisonous if given in small amounts or as directed by your veterinarian. Most dogs will like their taste while others will not.

The main ingredient in licorice is glycyrrhizin a glycoside. It also has saponins, flavonoids, and other important chemical compounds. Additionally, it antiarthritic and antimicrobial properties.

One great product with this herb and other such as nettle seed is the Zesty Paws Cranberry for Dogs chew treats which supports UT incontinence, works as an antioxidant, supports the bladder, kidney and helps fend off urinary tract infections.

Glycyrrhizin effects

Glycyrrhizin has a close resemblance to the naturally occurring corticosteroids, making it an “excellent anti-inflammatory for joint and allergy issues. Unlike veterinary corticosteroids, licorice enhances the body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes, without seriously compromising the immune system,” states Dog Naturally Magazine.

Remember, veterinary corticosteroids are helpful but will eventually affect your dog’s immunity if used for a long time.

Therefore, glycyrrhizin is an excellent alternative to hydrocortisone therapy. It can aid in minimizing hydrocortisone drug dosages and consequently reducing the various side effects these veterinary steroids may have.

Finally, glycyrrhizin stimulates adrenals to produce “anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immune-supporting corticosteroid-like actions to the body,” notes Whole Dog Journal.

Using licorice for dogs 

To use this plant, you can go for:

  • Root extract– It is the most recommended and has a little amount of pure oil, making it useful.
  • Licorice oil infusion or tinctures – To make them, submerge the licorice roots in olive oil or glycerin and cover it for about a month. Drain the oil and squeeze it to get the tincture.
  • Tea – Brew this herb’s tea using its dried and ground root.

Benefits

If you intend to use licorice, first get advice from your vet on the right dosages to use and how to use it safely. Some of its benefits include the following:

1. Arthritis, GI and respiratory inflammation

It can help manage joint pain in arthritic dogs, reduce gastrointestinal inflammation, including healing ulcers, and deal with respiratory system inflammation such as the ones caused by bronchitis or asthma.

2. Good for the liver

It supports and promotes liver healthy since it encourages the production of interferon and T-cells. Also, it detoxifies the liver and will help in treating liver damage due to jaundice or ingested toxins.

Also, according to Wag, “chronic hepatitis is one illness that has responded well to treatment with licorice root. The liver also responds well to this herb as a protectant.”

Finally, as a natural remedy, this licorice causes minimal liver-damaging effects as opposed to veterinary medicines. 

3. Topical use 

It is an excellent balm and salve for minor skin infections, irritation. Furthermore, it can help in soothing eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, flea allergy, among other skin allergies owing to its inflammatory properties and corticosteroid effects.

Topically, use ointment, tea, or tincture. However, before using it, let your vet carry out a diagnosis to find out what causes skin irritations or allergies.

4. Strengthens immunity system 

It boosts the reticuloendothelial system of your dog’s immunity by stimulating the various cells of this system responsible for destroying aggressive microbes or dead blood cells.

5. Other uses

  • It aids in digestion
  • Helps fend urinary tract infections
  • It is a laxative 
  • It will help in cough relief.

Warning 

Small amounts of glycyrrhizin it safe. However, in larger doses, may “cause potassium levels in the body to fall, triggering abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure in some people,” warns Wikipedia.

There is a possibility of it retaining sodium while losing potassium. This may result in edema, high blood pressure, hypokalemia, according to human studies.

Secondly, avoid prolonged use, i.e., for over two weeks and incorporate it with dandelion leaf since dandelion will boost sodium in diets and is also an excellent diuretic.

Avoid using it on dogs that have diabetes, heart or liver diseases as well as those pregnant or nursing as it may affect normal uterine functioning.

In case of toxicity or allergies, symptoms to watch for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty passing stool

Finally, if your dog ate licorice, you do not need to worry unless it ingested a lot. Only in excessive amounts is this herb potentially toxic or harmful. 

Is black licorice bad for dogs 

The black-colored candies are made from licorice and anise and shaped like the Scottie dogs such as Gimbals. Other ingredients include corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, starch, coconut oil, and carnauba wax and natural flavorings.

Should you give them to your canine friends? No. dogs should not have black licorice. As Rover.com notes, it is not “a good idea for your dog to consume sugar because of the risk of tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes.”

No to red licorice candies

The red licorice comes in various flavors, including cherry, chocolate and sweets, strawberry, and many others. Unlike the black ones, the red ones may not have this herb or anise.

While they may not be having any harmful ingredient, their high sugar amounts is a risk factor for obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes. Furthermore, some may have artificial sugars such as xylitol which are toxic to dogs. 

Always store these candies safely as your dog may eat them, including with their wrappers causing obstructions.

Others

Others are the Bassetts Liquorice allsorts which have sugar, coconut, gelatin, and fruit flavorings. They are also not healthy for dogs.

Conclusion

When it comes to the issue of licorice and dogs, what matters is using the right dosages and avoiding prolonged use as it can result in some side effects.

Also, large and concentrated doses may lead to some side effects such as water retention, hypokalemia, hypertension, among others which we have mentioned.

Finally, avoid this herb’s candies, including the black and red ones as they are harmful to your canine friend.

References 

See also

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