is liquorice poisonous or safe for dogs

Can Dogs Eat Liquorice?

No, dogs should not eat liquorice sweets as they are potentially harmful to them. 

Liquorice sweets are a confectionery product made from the root of the liquorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra). It is known for its distinct sweet taste and is often used in various types of products and even beverages. There are different varieties of liquorice, including red and black liquorice, each with its own flavour and presentation.

Liquorice sweets contain a compound known as glycyrrhizin, which can have adverse effects on dogs. Glycyrrhizin can lead to raised blood pressure, imbalanced electrolytes, and potassium depletion, resulting in negative health consequences for dogs.

Due to these potential hazards, it's crucial to avoid giving any form of liquorice sweets to dogs and instead focus on feeding them foods that are safe and suitable for their dietary needs. 

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What are the symptoms of dogs eating liquorice sweets?

If a dog consumes liquorice sweets or confectionary products containing liquorice, they might exhibit various symptoms that indicate potential toxicity. The severity of symptoms can depend on the amount and type of liquorice ingested and the individual dog's sensitivity. Symptoms of liquorice consumption in dogs can include:

  • Increased Thirst and Urination: Glycyrrhizin, the compound in liquorice, can lead to water retention and increased production of urine. This might result in more frequent urination and increased thirst.
  • Elevated Blood Pressure: Glycyrrhizin can cause an increase in blood pressure, leading to symptoms such as restlessness, panting, and rapid heart rate.
  • Potassium Depletion: Liquorice consumption can cause a decrease in potassium levels in the body, leading to symptoms like weakness, muscle tremors, and in severe cases, muscle paralysis.
  • Muscle Weakness: Dogs that have ingested liquorice might experience muscle weakness or even collapse due to the potassium imbalances caused by glycyrrhizin.
  • Lethargy: A dog poisoned by liquorice might show signs of lethargy, lack of energy, and general weakness.
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea: Consuming liquorice may lead to gastrointestinal upset, resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Swelling or Bloating: Water retention caused by glycyrrhizin can lead to swelling or bloating in the abdomen.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: In severe cases, the effects of glycyrrhizin on blood pressure and electrolytes could result in more serious cardiovascular issues, including irregular heart rhythms.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested liquorice or is displaying any of these symptoms, it's important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

symptoms of liquorice consumption in dogs

How much liquorice is harmful to dogs?

The exact amount of liquorice sweets that can be harmful to dogs can vary depending on factors such as the dog's size, age, and overall health. However, due to the presence of glycyrrhizin, even small amounts of liquorice can potentially be harmful to dogs. Different types of liquorice sweets, such as black liquorice and red liquorice, can contain varying levels of glycyrrhizin. Here are some key points to consider:

Black Liquorice

Contains a higher concentration of glycyrrhizin compared to red liquorice.

Even a small amount of black liquorice can pose a significant risk to dogs due to its concentrated levels of the toxic compound.

Red Liquorice

Contains a lower amount of glycyrrhizin compared to black liquorice.

While red liquorice is generally less toxic than black liquorice, it can still be harmful if consumed in larger quantities.

Smaller dogs are more susceptible to the toxic effects of glycyrrhizin due to their lower body weight. And some dogs may be more sensitive to glycyrrhizin’s effects than others. The specific brand and formulation of liquorice sweets can also impact the amount of glycyrrhizin present.

difference between red and black liquorice

Will one liquorice sweet harm my dog?

No. A single liquorice sweet is unlikely to cause immediate toxicity or severe symptoms in most dogs.

Is liquorice safe as a supplement for dogs?

Yes. A form of liquorice for dogs — and humans — known as deglycyrrhizinated liquorice, or DGL, may be able to provide the soothing benefits of liquorice without the side effects. The glycyrrhiza has been removed from DGL, usually taking the potential for dangerous side effects. Its removal generally makes the liquorice safer for dogs and people who may have health issues that keep plain liquorice root from being a good remedy. 

As with most remedies, anyone who wants to use liquorice should discuss it with their holistic veterinarians to be sure it is a safe option for their pets. This is especially important if a dog has health issues or takes medication.

What to do if your dog eats liquorice?

If your dog has consumed liquorice sweets or any confectionary products containing liquorice, here's what you should do:

  • Assess the Situation: Try to determine the amount and type of liquorice your dog has eaten. This information will be helpful for your veterinarian to understand the potential level of toxicity.
  • Contact Your Veterinarian: If you suspect your dog has eaten liquorice, it's important to contact your veterinarian immediately. They can provide guidance based on your dog's size, health status, and the amount of liquorice ingested.
  • Observe for Symptoms: Keep a close eye on your dog for any unusual symptoms. Symptoms of liquorice toxicity can include increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, muscle weakness, and changes in behaviour.
  • Do Not Induce Vomiting: Do not try to induce vomiting in your dog without consulting your veterinarian first. The appropriate course of action will depend on the situation and your dog's health.
  • Follow Veterinary Advice: Your veterinarian might recommend bringing your dog in for an examination or observation. They may also provide guidance on whether any specific treatments are needed based on the amount of liquorice consumed and your dog's condition.
  • Monitor and Follow Up: Keep a watchful eye on your dog's condition and behaviour even after the immediate danger has passed. Some symptoms might not manifest right away, so it's important to monitor your dog for any delayed reactions.

treatment of liquorice toxicity

What are alternative safe natural treats for dogs?

There are several safe and dog-friendly alternatives to liquorice that you can use as treats for your dog. Natural dog treats with no added preservatives or flavourings are perfect. 

Lamb Ears

Lamb Ears are a natural chew with no added salt or preservatives. Lamb ears are dried over a long period of time making them a good alternative to human confectionary items that are not suitable for dogs.

Just Meat Sticks

Just Meat Sticks are 100% meat treats with no added flavourings - just pure meat formed into moist sticks that are a brilliant quick treat for your dog or puppy.

With Wags and Woofs,

Laura, Dolly & Reggie

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