What are Juniper Berries and Why are they in Dog Food?

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We are now up to the letter J in our second pass through the A to Z Dog Food Ingredient series. Today’s dog food ingredient is Juniper Berries.


What are Juniper Berries?

Juniper Berries, scientifically called Juniperus communis, come from the Juniper shrub and are widely found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The juniper is an evergreen tree native to Europe, Asia, and the northern parts of North America.

Common names for Juniper Berries

The most common names for Juniper Berries include Common Juniper, Common Juniper Berry, Enebro, and Extract of Juniper.


Why are Juniper Berries in Dog Food?

Juniper Berry is often used as a bitter flavoring ingredient. It can also aid with digestion.


Are Juniper Berries Commonly Used in Dog Food?

Juniper is not commonly used as a dog food ingredient. It is included in only about 1% of all dog foods.


Common Benefits or Risks of Juniper Berries

Juniper Berries are a source of Vitamin C and the mineral Cobalt.


Juniper is used to address digestion problems including upset stomach, intestinal gas, heartburn, bloating, and loss of appetite, as well as gastrointestinal infections. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections and kidney and bladder stones.


Long term use can lead to kidney problems, seizures, and other serious side effects. Juniper berries were shown to lower blood sugar in animals and might result in hypoglycemia.


There appears to be conflicting opinions on whether or not Juniper is toxic to dogs. The University of California – Davis list Juniper in their Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants list as having a minor toxicity (class 2) for pets and children. This rating means ingestion of these plants may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea.


The ASPA list of Toxic and Non-toxic plants to Dogs does not include Juniper.


Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level

slimdoggy frownAlthough probably safe in low doses, given the confusion around the safety of Juniper for dogs, we think it is best avoided unless it is being used as part of a specific treatment plan.  We give the ingredient a Sad Face rating.


Miscellaneous facts about Juniper Berries

Juniper is used for digestion problems including upset stomach, intestinal gas (flatulence), heartburn, bloating, and loss of appetite, as well as gastrointestinal (GI) infections and intestinal worms. It is also used for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney and bladder stones.


Historically, juniper berries have been used to treat bladder and kidney infections and were used in tea as a way to disinfect surgeon’s tools. The antiseptic properties of juniper berry helps aid in the removal of waste and acidic toxins from the body


Sources and further reading



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  1. Jumping juniper! These look like blueberries. I guess we have seen lots of junipers, but never the berries. We will have to look for them.
    Emma recently posted…A Chewy SurpriseMy Profile

  2. Don’t think I ever heard of them. Maybe I should take them after all my boating experiences after the buffet line.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…A Pool Party Chewy Thank YouMy Profile

  3. Hmm…this makes us a little nervous. We tried to read the back of our dog food, but instead I just stuck my head in and tried to eat. I will have Mom do that. Thanks for sharing!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…No Second Thoughts: Plato ThinkersMy Profile

  4. The amount of conflicting information stresses me out sometimes. I agree with you. Just avoid if uncertain!
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…PetAlive – The Natural WayMy Profile

  5. We have those around here, but I never thought of it being in dog food or feeding it to dogs. I wouldn’t, personally.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Bad husky poetry – Adoptable Husky and kitty OTWMy Profile

  6. In our area birds get drunk on juniper berries when they ferment.
    jan recently posted…My dad’s famous family recipe for catfishMy Profile

  7. I have always thought they were toxic to dogs. We won’t be eating or adding any to the diet. ☺
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Platypus and FoxMy Profile

  8. Seen them … its a bit messy and unpleasant smell. Happy tasty Tuesday. Golden Woofs
    Golden Woofs: Sugar recently posted…Vivamune Health ChewsMy Profile

  9. Not something I cook with or consume, Harley probably would turn his nose up and his tail down, so I think we’re going to pass. I still appreciate the lesson, I love learning. Take care
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  10. Interesting. I always thought they were toxic.
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  11. I didn’t know anything about these or that they are in some dog foods. I know my dog gets blueberries in his food sometime, but sounds like they are very different.
    Lindsay recently posted…Do dogs miss us when we travel without them?My Profile

  12. That’s interesting. I always think of gin when I hear juniper.
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  13. I don’t think we have these in our area, but when we start planting again, I’ll avoid them.
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