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Yucca Schidigera for Dogs: Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Kristin Hitchcock

Yucca Schidigera is a plant in the lily family. It is native to various deserts across southern North America, including the Mojava Desert, Sonoran Desert, and Chihuahuan. It is also known as the Mojava yucca or Spanish dagger. It usually grows on rocky desert areas. They need full sun to grow and plenty of drainage.divider-dog

Is Yucca Schidigera Beneficial for Dogs?

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Credit: Martin Kovacik, Shutterstock

While this plant was largely unknown not that long ago, it is becoming increasingly popular among pet parents and even dog food companies. It isn’t unusual to find yucca schidigera listed in some dog food formulas. Usually, in this sense, the company uses the plant to control stool smell. This is one of its most popular benefits, though it is usually used more in cat food. It can be helpful in dog food if you find your dog’s stool extremely smelly.

It controls stool smell by altering the production of hydrogen sulfide in your pet’s gut, which is what causes smelly stool as well. It may also reduce ammonia production, which also affects stool smell.

Some studies have also shown that it can be beneficial to joint health in dogs. If your canine has joint problems, you may need wish to give them a supplement containing this plant. It controls joint problems thanks to its anti-inflammatory activity. It also contains antioxidants, which may also be helpful for joint problems.

The main benefit for dogs is going to be the anti-arthritic benefits. However, dogs with stinky stool may benefit from the smell-fighting effects as well.

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Does All Dog Food Use Yucca Schidigera?

No, most dog foods actually don’t contain Yucca Schidigera. About only 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 requirements 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 doesn’t affect the taste of the food. It is virtually tasteless when mixed into average dog food. Therefore, it can be added without causing picky eaters to turn their noses up. According to the studies we have previously discussed, it also doesn’t affect mineral absorption or food digestibility.

Does Yucca Schidigera Have Side Effects?

This plant does contain a specific chemical called steroidal saponins, which are poisonous in significant dosages. This chemical 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, though, as long as it is dosed correctly. Most poisoning cases result from the canine eating the plant or consuming too much of the extract. A dog is likely not going to get poisoned from a food that contains this plant, as it has been dosed according to the rest of the food.

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Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms of Yucca Schidigera poisoning include things like abdominal pain, lethargy, increased heart rare, stomach irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and walking difficulties. In other words, the dog will often develop digestive problems first. If far too much is consumed, neurological symptoms will follow, including coordination problems. Liver problems can develop if your dog consumes too much and does not get treatment.

The intestinal problems are caused by the plant’s ability to foam when eaten. It will foam up in your dog’s stomach and will cause all sorts of problems.

Treatment

Treatment will depend on how much your dog has eaten and how they are taking 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. Often, renal problems do not develop if treatment is sought quickly.

What Parts of Yucca Schidigera is 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.

Is Yucca Root Good for Dogs?

Yucca root is often used for canines in their food and is sometimes suggested by health advocates to add it to your canine’s food. However, the whole plant can be potentially poisonous, including the root. The root is not any safer than the other parts of the plant.

Besides being potentially poisonous, this plant contains quite a few vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, and C. As we have already stated, studies have found the plant to have anti-inflammatory agents, which can be helpful with arthritis and that sort of thing. It may also help your dog’s digestive tract, as many digestive illnesses cause inflammation.

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So, It’s Good AND Bad?

Yucca 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.

However, it is essential to point out that nearly everything can be dangerous if it is taken in too high of a dosage. Most medications can be overdosed on. Yucca is not different. You need to be very careful regarding dosages. For this reason, it is best to work with your vet or use a dog food that contains Yucca, as it is already dosed per each serving. Never give your dog more yucca than recommended.

While it is natural, that does not mean that it can’t be dangerous.

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Featured image credit: Sundry Photography, Shutterstock

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!