Although the candied licorice is what often comes to mind when we hear this term, the actual licorice root herb has been used for years as a natural remedy for a variety of physical issues. Licorice root is also a safe herb to give to dogs, and as with people, it can provide some benefits that can make your dog’s life a little bit easier.
What Is the Licorice Root Herb?
Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, is a legume and part of the pea family. It is primarily useful because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-arthritic properties. The licorice root herb has been used for centuries to treat a wide array of conditions.
All of the plant’s medicinal properties are derived from its root. Those features include:
How Is Licorice Root Beneficial for Dogs?
Due to its wide-ranging benefits, licorice root can be useful for dogs in many ways. Here are some of the primary means by which licorice root can improve a dog’s quality of life.
Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, a glycoside that acts as a natural corticosteroid, but without the adverse effects of weakening a dog’s immune system. Licorice enhances the body’s anti-inflammatory processes, making it a perfect herb to align with more conventional treatments like hydrocortisone therapy. This herb allows dogs to be safely weaned off of higher level steroid medications that can be damaging with long-term use.
In particular, the anti-inflammatory elements of licorice root helps dogs with the following conditions:
Itching and burning from allergies
Gastrointestinal and digestive issues
Respiratory problems with mucous membrane concerns (i.e., bronchitis, asthma)
Liver toxicity and liver disease
Urinary tract infections
Studies have shown that licorice root is a fast-acting, highly effective anti-inflammatory agent which does not compromise the immune system in any way.
Licorice root is a naturally sweet-tasting herb which makes it easy to get most dogs to take it. In fact, licorice root is often used with other herbs to mask their bitter taste.
For many years, licorice root has been used to combat aspects of liver disease and to prevent the onset of the disease as well. 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.
Aside from its protective values, licorice root also enhances T-cell production and interferon, both natural procedures that are necessary for liver health and protection. The herb can also be used as a liver detoxifier for the treatment of liver damage due to ingested toxins and in cases of jaundice.
When applied topically, licorice root is an excellent salve and balm for skin irritations and illnesses. As an ointment, oil infusion, or tea, the herb can soothe the symptoms of any of the following skin disorders:
Topical application of licorice root can control the outward, uncomfortable symptoms of skin allergies and disorders while veterinarians work to determine the underlying issues causing the problem.
Immune system benefits
Licorice root can help boost the immune system, specifically the reticuloendothelial system. This part of the immune system manages specialized cells that find and destroy dead blood cells and invasive microbes. The reticuloendothelial system is the body’s first defense against infections. Licorice root helps to stimulate the specialized cells in this system, making them extra effective in eliminating threats to the body.
What Side Effects Does Licorice Root Have in Dogs?
This herb is a highly safe one for dogs, except those with certain medical conditions that could be amplified or aggravated by licorice root.
Dogs with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or kidney disorders should not be given licorice root as a supplement. It’s also best for dogs who are pregnant or nursing to avoid this herb as well; licorice root can affect uterine functions.
The use of licorice root also causes increased sodium levels, increased blood pressure, and water retention.
Licorice should not be used long-term without careful consultation with a veterinarian. Always consult a doctor before adding licorice root to your dog’s daily intake.
In most scenarios, the licorice root herb is safe and palatable for dogs. It is a natural means by which to suppress inflammation within the body without causing damage to the immune system itself.
Licorice root can help with anti-inflammatory needs in multiple areas and is particularly useful in addressing stomach, liver, skin, and immune system disorders and illnesses.
Although safe for most dogs, some dogs with pre-existing conditions should not be given licorice root. Talk to a veterinarian before implementing this herb into your dog’s diet.