Yucca schidigera is a plant in the lily family. It is native to various deserts across southern North America, including the Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert. It is also known as the Mojave yucca or Spanish dagger. It usually grows in rocky desert areas and needs full sun and plenty of drainage in order to develop properly. Yucca schidigera is safe and even healthy for dogs to eat, though moderation is crucial.
Is Yucca Schidigera Beneficial for Dogs?
While this plant was largely unknown not that long ago, it has become increasingly popular among pet parents and even dog food companies. In fact, it isn’t unusual to find Yucca schidigera listed in certain dog food formulas. Manufacturers typically use the plant to control stool smell. This is one of its most popular benefits, though it is used more in cat food. It controls stool smell by altering the production of hydrogen sulfide in your pet’s gut, which is what causes smelly feces. It may also reduce ammonia production, which also affects stool odors.
Studies have shown that Yucca schidigera can be beneficial to joint health in dogs. If your canine has joint problems, you may need to give them a supplement containing this plant. It controls joint problems due to its anti-inflammatory activity and the fact that it contains antioxidants.
The main benefit for dogs is going to be the anti-arthritic benefits. However, dogs with stinky stool may also benefit from the smell-fighting effects.
Does All Dog Food Use Yucca Schidigera?
No, most dog foods don’t contain Yucca schidigera. Only about 20% of dog food brands out there use this plant. If you’re looking to give this to your canine, you will need to check the nutritional label to ensure that it is included. It can be added to pet food as an extract, or the plant can be ground, dried, or shredded. There is no evidence that the form affects its effectiveness.
The best part about yucca is that it is virtually tasteless when mixed into average dog food. Therefore, it can be added without causing picky eaters to turn up their noses at their bowl. According to various studies, it also doesn’t affect mineral absorption or food digestibility.
Does Yucca Schidigera Have Side Effects?
This plant does contain specific chemicals called steroidal saponins, which are poisonous in significant dosages. These can produce intestinal irritation and affect the nervous system in large dosages. If too much of the raw plant is eaten, it will taste bad and produce immediate stomach upset, which will often cause the dog to quit consuming the plant.
Yucca extract is considered to be safer, as long as it is dosed correctly. Most poisoning cases result from the canine eating the whole plant or consuming too much of the extract. A dog is likely not going to get poisoned from a food that contains Yucca schidigera, as it has been dosed according to the rest of the food.
Signs of Yucca Schidigera Poisoning to Watch For
Clinical signs of Yucca schidigera poisoning include things like abdominal pain, lethargy, increased heart rate, stomach irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and walking difficulties. The dog will often develop digestive problems first. If far too much is consumed, neurological signs will follow, including coordination issues. Liver problems can develop if your dog consumes too much and does not get treatment.
The intestinal issues are caused by the plant’s ability to foam when eaten. It will foam up in your dog’s stomach and cause all sorts of problems. Contact your vet right away if your dog shows any of these signs.
Treatment for Yucca Schidigera Poisoning
Treatment from your vet will depend on how much your dog has eaten and how they are reacting to the toxins. Some may need supportive treatment if they are experiencing intense intestinal problems, as they can become dehydrated with constant vomiting and diarrhea. IV fluids may be necessary. Sometimes, induction of vomiting may be necessary. However, you should not try to induce vomiting at home, as this can cause damage.
Most of the time, the dog will recover in only a few days. Renal problems should not develop if treatment is sought quickly.
What Parts of Yucca Schidigera Are Poisonous to Dogs?
The whole plant can be poisonous to dogs. Every part of the plant contains steroidal saponins, which is the part that is toxic to your canine. This is the part of the plant that foams, which causes intestinal problems. This is why Yucca schidigera extract is typically used in dog food instead.
Is Yucca Root Good for Dogs?
Yucca root is added to many dog foods, and it is sometimes suggested by health advocates that owners can add it to their canine’s food. However, the whole plant can be poisonous, including the root. It is not any safer than the other parts of the plant.
When properly processed, this plant, including the root, contains quite a few vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B, and C. Studies have found Yucca schidigera to have anti-inflammatory agents, which can be helpful with arthritis. It may also help your dog’s digestive tract, as many digestive illnesses cause inflammation.
Yucca schidigera is a bit complicated. Studies have found that it can help treat arthritis and affect your dog’s stool smell. However, it can be dangerous in high amounts. Moderation seems particularly important for this plant.
That said, nearly everything can be dangerous if it is taken at too high of a dosage. Most medications can be overdosed on, and yucca is no different. Since you need to be careful regarding dosages, it is best to work with your vet or simply buy a dog food that contains yucca, as it is already dosed per serving. Never give your dog more yucca than recommended.
While Yucca schidigera is natural, that does not mean it can’t be dangerous.
Additional dog reads:
- Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes? Vet-Reviewed Canine Diet & Health
- 3 Turmeric Recipes for Dogs
- 12 Things to Feed a Dog for Healthy Joints
Featured image credit: Sundry Photography, Shutterstock