Can Dogs Eat Licorice? Everything You Need To Know

No. Dogs cannot eat licorice, and it poses a considerable health risk. All kinds of licorice-like red, black licorice, and licorice root are not safe for dogs to consume. Licorice root consists of a compound called glycyrrhizin, which can be toxic to dogs. Also, red and black licorice contains sugar which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay in dogs. Approach your vet immediately if your canine has consumed licorice or licorice root in large quantities.

What is Licorice?

Licorice is a flowering plant belonging to the bean family Fabaceae. The root of licorice has a sweet and aromatic extract believed to be medical in ancient Egypt. The extract is used in herbalism and traditional medicine. However, excessive consumption may lead to adverse health effects. Licorice is also a flavoring agent in candies and tobacco, especially in Europe and West Asia.

Nutritional Value

Licorice has no proteins and is naturally fat-free. It also has no significant amount of vitamins and minerals. As per USDA, a 14g of licorice candy contains the below nutrients.

Total Carbohydrates13g
Dietary Fiber0g

Is Licorice Safe for Dogs?

Licorice or licorice root is not safe for dogs and is toxic when consumed in large quantities. They are harmful to dogs’ health and can also be poisonous. Licorice root and its extract contain glycyrrhizin which is toxic for dogs. Black licorice candies may not have the licorice extract as an ingredient and can upset the dog’s digestive system. Licorice candies also contain other elements like wheat gluten, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup, which may lead to the below effects.

  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Weight gain
  • Water retention
  • High blood pressure

Alternatively, it is also believed that licorice root can be safe for dogs when used in the appropriate amount. Licorice root has anti-inflammatory properties and is utilized for medicinal purposes. The adaptogenic properties in licorice root help fight stress and fatigue in dogs. In addition, it also helps to increase the effects of steroids or cortisone used for treating Addison’s disease in dogs. Other benefits of licorice root for dogs include

  • Helps to decrease inflammation in the GI tract
  • Fights skin inflammation
  • Helps to treat symptoms of upper respiratory infections
  • Helps to treat bronchitis
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces itchiness
  • Fights liver disease
  • Anti-inflammatory properties,

However, it is recommended to contact your pet’s vet before feeding licorice to your dog in any form.

Why is Licorice Bad for Dogs?

Licorice is generally not recommended for dogs as it contains elements that can be toxic to dogs.

Licorice root

Licorice root and its extracts have adverse negative effects on a dog’s health due to one primary component.

  • Glycyrrhizin – Consuming glycyrrhizin leads to high blood pressure in dogs. Hence, it is always advisable to refrain from feeding your dog licorice-flavored food.

Licorice candy, black licorice and red licorice

  • Sugar – Licorice candies contain high sugar content, and it can lead to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and cavities in dogs. Black licorice is flavored by the components of licorice plants and has no health benefits. Similarly, red licorice has no flavors from the licorice plants and is full of sugar. Both red and black licorice is packed with high-sugar content, which is harmful to dogs’ health.
  • Xylitol – Sugar-free licorice may sound safe, but it contains an ingredient called xylitol which can be highly toxic to dogs.
  • Wheat flour – The licorice candies contain wheat flour which can be harmful. Dogs that experience grain and gluten intolerance when consuming wheat flour may exhibit allergic reactions.
  • Corn syrup – The licorice candies also have corn syrup which does not suit the dog’s health. Some dogs are allergic to corn, which may lead to diarrhea and itching symptoms.
  • Palm oil – adds flavor to licorice candies, and it causes sickness, diarrhea, dehydration, and in extreme cases, pancreatitis.

What if My Dog Ate Licorice?

The risks of consuming licorice include:

High blood pressure – Licorice root and its extract contains a component called glycyrrhizin which causes high blood pressure in dogs.

Obesity – Although naturally fat-free, the sugar levels in licorice lead to obesity in dogs. The weight gain also leads to joint pains and can be highly uncomfortable for dogs. The symptoms of obesity in dogs include

  • Lethargy and inactiveness
  •  Incapable movements.   

Diabetes – consuming a large amount of sugar content leads to diabetes in dogs. The symptoms include.

  • Weight loss 
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination

Diabetes also leads to the following health problems.

  • Diabetic cataract
  • Cancer
  • Severe Obesity
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Renal and liver insufficiency

Dental problems – High sugar levels in licorice affects the oral health of dogs and causes dental problems. The symptoms include.

  • Bad breath
  • Bacteria accumulation
  • Dental cavity in dogs

In addition, watch for the below symptoms of glycyrrhizin poisoning in dogs.

  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Raised blood pressure

If you find your dog consuming licorice, follow the below steps without fail.

  • Contact your vet immediately
  • Contact ASPCA(Animal poison control center) helpline to determine the toxic reaction of your pet
  • Note down the ingredients list in the licorice package for any toxic ingredient like xylitol
  • Seek medical attention at the earliest if necessary.

Alternatives To Licorice 

The healthy alternatives to licorice that can be fed to your dog as a treat can include fruits and vegetables like

  • Kiwi 
  • Raspberries 
  • Figs 
  • Apples (without seeds)
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas 
  • Sweet potato 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs eat licorice root?

Dogs cannot eat licorice root as it contains a component called glycyrrhizin which is toxic to dogs.

Can dogs eat black licorice?

The licorice candies with black licorice are flavored with components of licorice plants and are high in sugar content.

Can dogs eat red licorice?

No. red licorice has no flavoring from licorice plants and is high in sugar content. Sugar is harmful in various ways to a dog’s health.

Can dogs eat licorice candies?

No. licorice candies are high in sugar content and harmful to dogs.

Can dogs eat licorice Twizzlers?

No. licorice Twizzlers shouldn’t be fed to dogs even in small quantities as they have too many red licorice.

Final Thoughts

Licorice is not the best food to be fed to dogs and can be toxic. Licorice root has extracts that can even lead to poisoning in dogs. Black and red licorice have no medicinal benefits and are high in sugar content which is harmful to dogs’ health. It is also believed that licorice is safe for dogs to consume and has medicinal benefits. However, it is not a good idea to feed licorice to dogs. Always contact your vet if your dog consumes licorice to prevent any adverse effects. 

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