Thursday, 31 October 2013

Licorice Root - Herbs For Dogs and Cats

Safe to use as a daily dietary supplement,
alternative medicine for most dogs and cats.

In this article...
1. Licorice Root
2. Health Benefits  
3. Cautions  
4. Side Effects  
5. Drug Interactions
6. General Guidelines for Daily Herbal Intake 

1.0 Licorice Root
Licorice has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb to treat a wide variety of issues. The medicinal properties are derived from the root of the licorice plant. Licorice is an effective, fast acting anti-inflammatory which can completely replace or greatly reduce the need for corticosteroids. The chemical glycyrrhizin is the active anti-inflammatory agent in licorice. Glycyrrhzin is and anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.

Cats and dogs usually enjoy the taste of licorice, making this herb perfect for use to mask the taste of less attractive tasting herbs.

Licorice can be used in various forms:
  • Dry powder;
  • Fresh sliced or finely minced root;
  • Tea - infusion;
  • Tincture - use alcohol-free only;
  • Supplement - capsule, pill.

2.0 Benefits, a partial list…

Uses - Ingested
  • Helps to relieve:
    • Arthritis.
    • Itching including inching from allergies.
    • Digestive issues.
    • During detox allergy treatment to cleanse the blood.
    • Endocrine issues.
    • Inflammation.
    • Liver detox and conditions.
    • Pain relief.
    • Respiratory issues such as colds as licorice soothes mucous membranes.
    • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).

Uses – Topical
  • Use licorice tea, salve or oil for…
    • Flea-bite allergies.
    • Dermatitis (contact type).
    • Eczema.
    • Psoriasis.
    • And other skin disorders.
  • The anti-arthritic actions of licorice is comparable to that of hydrocortisone – the difference is that licorice does not suppress the immune system – hydrocortisone does.
  • Licorice does not interfere with corticosteroid drugs therefore licorice can be used as a supportive adjunct as it has a strengthening effect which allows for lower doses of corticosteroids. This is important for dogs in long-term therapies as the serious debilitating side effects of steroid drugs may be mitigated by taking lower doses. Licorice can also be used to wean the dog off of steroids safely.

Preparation, Dosage, Duration and Adjustments
  • Licorice is naturally sweet and has a flavor that most dogs enjoy;
  • You can use licorice to mask the less favored taste of other herbs that your dog may need to ingest but not like the taste of;
  • Use a low-alcohol or no alcohol licorice root extract tincture.
    If you must use for more than two weeks make sure that you add dandelion to the diet so that increased potassium requirement is met and elimination of excess sodium is enabled.

    3.0 Cautions
    • Use in moderation for pregnant or lactating dog or cat.

    4.0 Side effects…
    • As noted further above.

    5.0 Drug Interactions…
    • Licorice may interfere with blood thinning drugs.
    • Medications changed by the liver.
    • Medications for high blood pressure.
    • Diuretic drugs.

    6.0 General Guidelines for Daily Herbal Intake
    Daily Herbal Intake Based on Dog's or Cat's Weight
    Dry Powders

    1-10 lbs
    a small pinch up to 1/8 tsp
    less than 1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
    1/2 capsule, 1-3 times/day
    1-3 drops, 2-3 times/day
    10-20 lbs
    1 larger pinch - 1/8 to ¼ tsp
    1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
    1/2-1 capsule/tablet, 1-3 times/day
    3-5 drops, 2-3 times/day
    20-50 lbs
    2 pinches - 1 teaspoon
    1/4-1/2 cup, 1-3 times/day
    1-2 capsules/tablets, 2-3 times/day
    5-10 drops, 2-3 times/day
    50-100 lbs 10-
    2 pinches - 2 teaspoons
    1/2-1 cup, 1-3 times/day
    1-2 capsules/tablets, 3-4 times/day
    20 drops, 2-3 times/day
    Over 100 lbs,
    up to 1 tablespoon
    up to 1 cup 3 times/day
    adult human dose
    adult human dose

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    Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld. 


    1. Licorice tincture has become the answer to our dogs allergy nightmare! Gave it to her on Saturday for the first time. No hives and no itching for the first time in 2 years! Pet allergist/vets all wanted her on several kinds of meds. After a lot of research I decided to try it... AMAZING!! I'm a little concerned about long term use and will include the Dandelion. She's always been on an excellent high quality diet and the allergy is from external sources (plants, molds etc) which are year round where we live. Can you please tell me if we should be reducing the dosage over time? She normally suffers from hives 24 hours a day (poor baby)... but not now :)

      1. You should take breaks in between the use of licorice and yes you can reduce the dosage once the condition is under better control. There are other herbs and nutraceuticals that should be used daily and licorice should be used periodically. My Pit Bull x Boxer has the same acute environmental allergies as your girl. I use complementary foods, herbs and nutraceuticals to prevent extreme symptoms from developing.

    2. What would you recommend for a 72lb bitch with atypical addisons?

      1. Atypical Addisons - you would require my consultation services in the form of a holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Plan


    Important Note

    1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

    Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

    Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

    Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

    If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

    2.0 Definition of Holistic…

    Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

    If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

    Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

    Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


    "relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

    "Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

    Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

    3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

    A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

    Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

    4.0 Leave a Comment

    I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

    I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

    Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

    Karen Rosenfeld
    Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
    Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
    Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats