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Can Dogs Eat Licorice? Pros & Cons Of Licorice To Dogs Revealed

Can Dogs Eat Licorice

Are you a big fan of Hershey’s strawberry Twizzlers and Good & Plenty candy? If you are and you love dogs, then you’re probably tempted to share this treat with your furry pal. Question is: Can dogs eat licorice candy?

Besides the chewy candy version of licorice that “not really everyone” likes, some might know licorice for its medicinal properties. Given its benefits, a few might wonder if this herb – licorice root – is safe for dogs.

Whether it’s licorice candy or the herb licorice root, Dog Food Guide is here to give your everything you need to know about licorice –  its effects on your dog’s health, and more.

What Is Licorice?

The first thing that pops into mind when we hear licorice is the bright red Twizzlers. Unknown to many, licorice is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been around since ancient times.

Licorice or liquorice, aka “Glycyrrhiza glabra,” is a herbaceous flowering plant from the pea family that grows all year round. A native of Southern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, the licorice plant is used as a medicinal herb to treat various conditions, including

  • Eczema
  • Liver disease
  • Cough and sore throat
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Tooth decay
  • Hepatitis C
  • Canker sores
  • Menstrual and menopause symptoms (like hot flashes and cramps)

Interestingly, liquorice has been a big part of history. A drink drank by pharaohs in ancient Egypt; licorice is also loved by famous figures, including Napoleon Bonaparte, whose teeth turned black because of eating too much licorice. Alexander the Great and his army also chewed on this whenever water was scarce.

Nowadays, licorice, with its sweet taste, is used in candies, beverages, medicine, and tobacco. Glycyrrhizin – a natural sweetener extracted from licorice roots – is 50 times sweeter than sugar.

Want to know if licorice candy contains licorice? If you’re asking about black licorice candy, the answer is Yes. The original Twizzlers also had licorice. However, most licorice candies like the strawberry-flavored red licorice do not contain licorice extract. Instead, anise oil is used to give it its sweet flavor.

Can Dogs Eat Licorice Candy?

If you want to know if you can let your dog eat black licorice candy or red licorice, the answer is No.

Red and black licorice and other candy are not toxic to dogs. But candy flavored with licorice contains harmful ingredients like all other candies. This makes red licorice and black licorice bad for your pet dog.

For one thing, red and black licorice contains too much sugar. As responsible dog owners, you should know by now that your dog should not consume sugar regularly to achieve optimal health.

Like humans, too much sugar can lead to various health problems, including obesity and diabetes. Since it’s sticky, the candy can also stick to your dog’s teeth and cause cavities.

Besides sugar, black licorice and the like also contain harmful ingredients like corn syrup, salt, and artificial sweeteners (like xylitol) – all of which are bad for your dog.

Lastly, if your dogs eat Twizzlers with the plastic wrapper still intact, make sure to watch out for symptoms of bowel obstruction. Symptoms include abdominal pain, difficulty pooping, and lethargy.

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What About Licorice Root? Is Licorice Root Safe For Dogs?

Unlike licorice candy, licorice root is safe for dogs as long as it’s used appropriately. It all boils down to how it is used.

Like any other medicinal herb, the misuse of licorice root can result in adverse effects, which we will discuss below.

Health Benefits Of Licorice To Dogs

Can dogs eat black licorice and other candy? No. Since we’ve established that giving your dog liquorice candy is a bad idea, from hereon, we will be talking about the licorice plant – the licorice root in particular.

Feeding your dog the licorice root has its benefits. However, getting expert veterinary advice is highly suggested. Remember, your dog will only enjoy the following benefits if this herb is given the proper way. 

Combats Stress

Stress can be harmful even to your pet dogs. Giving your dog licorice may help your dog’s body adapt to stress by regulating your dog’s cortisol levels. 

Reduces Inflammation

Besides acting as an adaptogen, liquorice is also known for its excellent anti-inflammatory properties. With a chemical structure closely resembling naturally occurring corticosteroids, licorice can also be used orally and topically to bring down swelling (think contact dermatitis, upper respiratory inflammation, bronchitis, and GI problems).

Aids Digestion

Yes, you read it right. Like humans, eating liquorice can also help relieve digestive problems like upset stomach, indigestion, and acid reflux.

Great Hydrocortisone Therapy Alternative

Since prolonged use of veterinary corticosteroids may eventually weaken your dog’s immune system, licorice root serves as an excellent alternative. This can help slow down the progression of autoimmune disorders like Addison’s disease.

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Why Licorice Root Is Bad For Dogs

Yes, liquorice isn’t toxic to dogs and does not pose an immediate threat when eaten. In fact, it serves as a great anti-inflammatory agent. This doesn’t mean, though, that you can freely give this to your dog.

Like any other food, giving your dog large quantities of licorice root can have serious side effects, including water retention and sodium retention, as well as:

Increased Blood Pressure

Glycyrrhizin, when taken regularly, can raise your dog’s blood pressure to dangerous levels. This makes this herb not suitable for dogs with hypertension.

Reduced Potassium Levels

Eating large doses of liquorice can also lead to a drop in your dog’s potassium levels. This can result in various ailments, including high blood pressure, lethargy, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Glycyrrhizin Toxicity

Yes, taking concentrated amounts of glycyrrhizin can lead to poisoning. If you think your dog had too much, you might want to get in touch with your vet. High blood pressure is just one of its symptoms. You can also watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Kidney problems

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Licorice?

There’s no need to hit the panic button if your dog ate licorice. After all, this isn’t toxic to dogs. Despite this, you might still want to keep an eye on your dog’s condition. Contact your vet right away if your dog shows any sign of discomfort, weakness, and the like.

Final Verdict 

Are you planning to let your dog eat licorice? If it’s the candy type, you might want to keep that to yourself, given its high sugar load. It’s a different story, though, if you’re talking about the medicinal herb.

However, there are exceptions. Dogs with diabetes, heart, liver, and kidney problems, and hypertension are better off eating other dog-friendly foods. Also, it’s always best to talk to your vet beforehand. 

As experts, they’re equipped to give you the proper dose to give your dog since the amount will depend on your dog’s body weight.

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