Can Dogs Eat Black Licorice? Read This First!

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Every dog owner wants to treat their dogs to something new; nonetheless, the decisions you make have a significant impact on your dog’s health and wellness. Some human food can be very harmful for your dog’s consumption. But it’s natural to want to share our meals with our canine friend; hence, the question “can dogs eat black licorice?”

Dogs cannot eat black licorice because it contains very high amounts of sugar. It also has a good amount of calories and carbohydrates. If licorice is taken in high amounts, the sugar it contains can cause obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, and other health conditions.

Licorice is also toxic and poisonous to dogs and should be avoided except when prescribed by a vet. But the availability of different types of licorice and their unique features can make dog owners confused. Luckily, this article explains everything you should know about black licorice and its safety for dogs.

Why Dogs Should Not Eat Black Licorice

It’s not healthy to feed your dog with black licorice, and it should be avoided at all costs. Black Licorice contains licorice root that’s high in glycyrrhizin, which can be very toxic to dogs. In combination with several other factors, the high sugar content of glycyrrhizin makes it poisonous to dogs.

Additionally, glycyrrhizin can cause an increase in the blood level of dogs and, when taken in excess quantities, can shoot the dog’s blood level to a dangerously high level. The presence of glycyrrhizin in black licorice can also cause water retention, which could be very dangerous for dogs suffering from Lymphedema and other similar conditions.

In addition to the high glycyrrhizin content of black licorice, it also contains an incredible sugar level. The direct effects of this sugar level on dogs include obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, and many other health problems.

Of course, there’s a sugar-free variety of black licorice called black candy. Instead of sugar, this candy contains a substance called xylitol. You may argue that this variety would be safe for dogs since it doesn’t contain sugar. However, xylitol is also known to be harmful to dogs. After all, it contains substances that act similarly to sugar in a dog’s body.

According to findings by the U.S. Poison Control Center reported on Fox19, experts recommend that a small 3 grams (0.11 oz) of xylitol could instantly kill a 65-pound (29.48 kg) dog. So, it’s not all that surprising that it’s ranked as the most toxic ingredient found in a black licorice.

Dogs generally exhibit symptoms like gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, vomiting, etc. when they consume xylitol. It’s essential to look out for these symptoms in your dog and contact a veterinarian as soon as you notice them.

Proponents of black licorice may argue that small quantities of it wouldn’t affect a dog’s health. However, it’s pretty tricky determining how much is too much. Therefore, experts often advise total abstinence from it.

If, for any reason, you want to feed your dog black licorice, we recommend that you consult a veterinarian first, and they’ll tell you the correct quantity for your canine friend. They’ll also advise you on the best emergency control practices to try if things get out of hand.

Symptoms of Licorice Intake

If your dog has eaten a large amount of licorice, ensure you take the dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Waiting for symptoms to manifest when you’re sure that your dog has consumed large quantities of licorice can be life-threatening, especially since there are isolated cases where dogs don’t show any symptoms until it’s almost too late.

However, if your dog has taken just a few, watch out for the following symptoms, and contact a veterinarian if they still persist after initial care.

  • Vomiting: Vomiting is the most common symptom of licorice intake. When your dog takes in licorice, the sugar content or licorice roots can lead to frequent vomiting for some time.
  • Diarrhea: High sugar level or presence of glycyrrhizin in a dog’s body can cause stomach upset and frequent stooling. The last thing you want is to see your dog curled up in a corner because of the discomfort in their abdomen.
  • Raised blood pressure: The high sugar content and glycyrrhizin in licorice can alter and increase your dog’s blood pressure depending on the quantity taken and the size of your dog. Therefore, if you notice your dog showing symptoms of increased blood pressure, talk to your veterinarian about the possibilities.
  • Hyper activeness: Sugar contains glucose, which, when consumed in high quantities, can cause hyper activeness and abnormal behaviors.
  • Extreme fatigue: When your dog consumes licorice, there’s a high possibility of experiencing drowsiness and prolonged sleep, depending on the amount of licorice taken.
  • Muscle weakness: The intake of licorice can lead to the general weakness of your dog’s muscles. However, the severity of the weakness would be determined by the consumed quantity and individual susceptibility.

What if Your Dog Eats Licorice in Your Absence?

Yes, you won’t always be with your dog, but you must ensure that they don’t get into situations where they may need to eat licorice. However, if, despite your efforts, you realize that your dog has eaten licorice in your absence, don’t panic; you can salvage the situation.

Most times, you can prevent the side effects by simply brushing your dog’s teeth. Licorice sticks are sticky, and they can gum to your dog’s teeth. Getting the residue off your dog’s gums will help lower the effects.

If your dog ate red licorice, to be precise, ensure he drinks lots of water and also give him lots of bathroom breaks.

Benefits of Licorice to Dogs

Despite the numerous side effects associated with licorice, it still has its benefits. Pet Care Advisors suggests that it can be beneficial to a dog’s health and help cure certain illnesses.

Wiley Wallaby Classic Black Licorice, 4 Ounce Bags, 16 Count

Veterinarians often recommend a controlled dosage of licorice because of its herbal benefits to dogs. The glycyrrhizin in licorice roots contains some properties that are medically beneficial to animals. Here are some of the direct benefits you should know about licorice:

  • Boosts your dog’s immune system. Licorice roots help deal with some diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, canine discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), etc., that alter the immune health of dogs. The presence of glycyrrhizin in licorice also means that it can boost the production of antibodies to fight diseases and infections.
  • Helps reduce itching from allergies. Licorice is a fantastic balm for minor skin infections, flea allergies, irritation, and many other skin allergies caused by inflammatory properties. It helps to relieve your dog from itches and burns from allergies.
  • Great for the reduction of joint pain. Licorice root is a primary ingredient in many popular balms and ointments available today for treating joint pains. You can make a paste out of the squashed root and apply it to your dog’s joints for instant relief from pain.
  • Used to fight against liver disease. The vitamin content of licorice roots enhances and supports a healthy liver by promoting the production of T cells and interferon. Glycyrrhizin also detoxifies the liver and helps in treating different liver problems caused by ingested toxins or jaundice.
  • Cures stomach upsets. Licorice roots help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and stomach upsets. It also fights against respiratory system inflammation such as asthma.
  • Aids in digestion. If taken in moderation, licorice roots can help to ease your dog’s digestion process by ensuring the smooth passage of food through their digestive tracts.
  • Helps in treating urinary tract infections. The glycyrrhizin content in licorice helps fight against different urinary tract infections that dogs may suffer from. It can also smoothen your dog’s excretion process. However, you must ensure to administer it under the strict supervision of a veterinarian.
  • It’s a laxative. Licorice serves as a good source of laxative for your dog because of its role in cleaning your dog’s digestive system. The correct quantity will also help to prevent constipation and make the digestion process easier.
  • Reduces Inflammation. Licorice roots can also work as anti-inflammatory herbs. You can give a tiny quantity of licorice roots to your dog to help reduce the inflammation.

Avoid Feeding Licorice To Dogs With Health Conditions

Black licorice is generally harmful to your dog only when consumed in high quantities. However, ensure that you never feed your dog with licorice if they’re suffering from any of the following health conditions:

  • Dogs with diabetes. Diabetic dogs are already suffering from excess glucose in their system. Therefore, giving them a snack packed with high sugar contents can trigger their condition and threaten their overall health.
  • Pregnant. Experts generally prescribe more protein and carbohydrates for pregnant dogs. In addition to increasing sugar levels, licorice can also neutralize some protein in your dog’s system, so it can lead to certain birth complications.
  • Nursing mothers. Like pregnant dogs, nursing dogs need as much protein and carbohydrates as they can get. Giving a nursing mother black licorice might affect the protein level in their system, leading to reduced milk production and other health complications.
  • Heart or liver diseases. Dogs diagnosed with heart or liver disease shouldn’t eat black licorice for any reason. It’ll pose a considerable health threat since their liver is already too weak to handle the excessive sugar levels.


Black licorice and other food substances that contain high sugar can pose serious health threats to dogs, and these foods should be avoided at all costs. Also, if you use black licorice as a treat for your dog from time to time or as a medical herb, ensure that you keep their intake at a minimal level.

If you feel like you’ve overfed your dog with licorice, we recommend giving your dog dandelion leaf, which acts as a diuretic. On the other hand, you can call a vet to diagnose and run tests on your dog before it becomes late.

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