There is quite a bit of controversy on the internet about canines and juniper berries. One of the most asked questions is: Are juniper berries toxic for canines? Before delving into the holistic capabilities of juniper berries, it is first vital to answer the toxicity question according to information from reputable animal associations.
Are Juniper Berries Toxic to Dogs?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals maintains a list of plants which are considered poisonous to dogs. The juniper plant and berry does not appear on their list. The Pet Poison Hotline also maintains a list of poisonous plants, which does not include the juniper plant or berry, either. On a horticulturist question and answer forum of the Extension Service of the North Dakota State University, juniper berries are not toxic to dogs; however a dog would probably vomit if they ingested the berries, according to Ron Smith.
Finally, the University of Illinois Extension states that if ingested in large quantities or frequent doses, juniper berries could cause kidney failure and digestive irritation. The overall consensus is that juniper berries, if given as a natural supplement to canines, would not be toxic, as the doses would be rationed in small supplemental portions in order to treat ailments, rather than in large quantities, like an accidental intake that would occur if a dog came in contact by chance with the plant and started eating the berries.
The Juniper Plant & Berry
Junipers are plants that are coniferous (woody, cone bearing plants with seeds and vascular tissue), and they can range from tall trees to shrubs that are low-spreading with branches which are long and trailing. These plants have about 50 to 60 species, fall within the evergreen category and, much like pine trees, bear needle-like leaves. The juniper berry is not truly a berry, but rather it is the female seed cone that looks very similar to a blueberry, but can also be red or orange in color.
Benefits of Juniper Berries
Juniper berries contain potent oils with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and carminative properties. The juniper berry has been found to remove impurities from blood via the urinary tract, eliminate kidney and bladder stones, and alleviate urinary tract infections. Additionally, the juniper berry has been used to treat colic, bronchitis, bacteria or yeast gastrointestinal infections, and have also been used as a natural dewormer. However, this case will focus on how juniper berry treats canine urinary tract infections.
Treating Canine Urinary Tract Infections with Juniper Berries
While some veterinarians will treat canine UTI with diet alterations, urinary acidifiers, or increased water intake, others will prescribe antibiotics. However, for pet owners who want to try an herbal remedy, juniper berry might be the answer. The way that is works is fairly simple. The antibacterial property of the juniper berry supplement fights against the bacteria in the urinary tract that is causing the infection. The terpinen-4-ol, which is the volatile oil component of the berry, increases the speed of filtration of the kidneys. The potent oils of the supplement also initiate a diuretic effect, increasing the flow of urine, thereby helping to dilute the urine and cleanse bacteria from the system.
While you can easily find juniper berry supplements in drug stores, grocery stores, natural supplement stores and online, you will still want to consult your veterinarian to ensure that you are properly dosing your dog for the urinary tract infection. There are extreme warnings that juniper berry is only to be taken until the ailment which the berry is treating has been cleared up. The general recommendation is to use the juniper berry supplements for no more than four weeks at a time.