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