Whether you’ve seen it mentioned on the ingredients list for your pup’s food or you’ve read about it becoming an increasingly popular nutraceutical, you may have wondered what yucca schidigera is.
Yucca schidigera is said to have been used for centuries, particularly as Native American herbal medicine to treat arthritis and other ailments.
So, how has it made its way into the pet space? And most importantly, is it safe for dogs?
A veterinarian shares what pet parents need to know about this natural ingredient.
What Is Yucca Schidigera?
Yucca schidigera, also known as the Mojave yucca and “Spanish dagger,” is an evergreen tree of the lily family. It’s commonly found in southwest desert areas of the United States and northern Mexico.
The yucca schidigera plant is shredded, dried, and ground to create an extract. This is then added into dog food and supplements.
It’s important to note that yucca schidigera is added into some dog foods, but not all. It’ll usually be mentioned toward the middle or end of the ingredient list since it’s not a primary ingredient.
But why is it in dog food in the first place?
Dr. Sara Ochoa, veterinarian at website Senior Tail Waggers and at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital, says yucca schidigera is often added to dog food to help reduce stool odor.
“[Yucca schidigera] is also seen in many joint supplements to help decrease pain and inflammation,” Ochoa tells This Dog’s Life.
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Is Yucca Schidigera Extract Safe for Dogs?
In its natural state, the entire yucca schidigera plant is considered to be toxic to dogs since it contains steroidal saponins. As for the extract?
“Yucca schidigera extract is safe for dogs,” Ochoa says. The extract found in dog products is properly dosed to ratioed, and therefore, safe, amounts. (Before you introduce any new ingredient to your dog, contact your veterinarian.)
“Not only does it help stop dogs from having stinky poos, but it also provides many vitamins, such as Vitamin A, B, and C,” Ochoa says.
These vitamins are great to boost your dog’s health, especially in terms of support for vision, bone health, skin and coat, energy, immune function, and cognitive aging.
Related: Essential Dog Nutrition: 6 Vitamins Your Pup Needs in His Diet
Yucca Schidigera Benefits for Dogs
Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects
If your pooch has arthritis, dermatitis, or conjunctivitis, yucca schidigera (in the extract form) has been shown to have reduced pain, inflammation, and arthritic symptoms in dogs.
In addition to these benefits, Ochoa says, “[Yucca schidigera] will also help decrease inflammation in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and can be given to your dog to help with the pain from an upset stomach.”
Antibacterial effects in mouth
“Yucca schidigera can help decrease plaque and tartar build up,” Ochoa says. “It can also help decrease inflammation and pain in your dog’s gums.”
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Good source of vitamins and minerals
Yucca schidigera is packed with antioxidants, antimicrobials, and immunomodulators that help strengthen your dog’s immune function to combat diseases.
“This supplement provides many of the vitamins and minerals that your dog’s body needs,” Ochoa says.
While more research on yucca schidigera is needed, it appears to have promising benefits to dogs.
Related: A Holistic Veterinarian Shares What We Should All Know About Dog Nutrition
Potential Side Effects of Yucca Schidigera
Yucca schidigera is safe in moderate amounts. But like any supplement, too much can cause harmful side effects in your dog.
If your dog consumes too much of a yucca schidigera supplement, or a whole yucca schidigera plant, Ochoa says your dog may experience:
- GI pain
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble walking
If you find your dog has ingested excessive amounts of yucca schidigera, monitor her symptoms and call your veterinarian to get treatment ASAP.
How to Incorporate Yucca Schidigera Into Your Dog’s Diet
“You can find this as a powder that you can add to your dog’s diet,” Ochoa says. The dosage tends to be is 1/4th teaspoon per 25 pounds of body weight, but it is always important to contact your vet. “It is best to start off slow and gradually increase to the full amount to help prevent any GI issues or food aversion from your dog.”
In any case, it’s always best to consult your vet before introducing a new supplement like yucca schidigera into your dog’s diet to see if it’s a suitable option based on her individual needs.