Although poisonous for cats and dogs, Yucca plants have been cultivated into safe food for humans, and medicine that is beneficial to humans, cats and dogs.
There are 10,000 or more varieties of the Yucca, Yucca Cassava or Cassava. Native to the Southwest United States and North Mexico, Yucca is also found in South and Central America. Some are more distinctive than others, but most have sword-like large leaves with sharp points, spines or needles formed in rosettes. They grow three to 13 feet tall.
Poisons in Yuccas Harmful to Cats and Dogs
A few species of Yuccas may be harmless. But, in raw form some Yuccas can be deadly for cats and dogs. Cats often chew plants. Dogs love to dig and may chew on the exposed root of the Yucca. Both roots and leaves contain linamarin which, when ingested, converts to cyanide. The leaves rather than the roots, contain the most linamarin. The variety of Yucca determines how much cyanide is present in the raw plant:
- Sweet Yucca or Cassava — approximately 20 milligrams per one kilogram in roots only
- Bitter Yucca or Cassava — as much as fifty times greater than in the sweet variety
Cats and dogs that have eaten Yucca will vomit, develop diarrhea, drool, have seizures and depression and refuse to eat.
Yuccas as Healthy Food
More than 500 million people, mostly in Africa, Latin America, Caribbean, and Asia eat the root from the Cassava Manihot Esculenta Yucca plant. Its texture is similar to the potato and contains an abundance of potassium, fiber, and carbohydrates. Cassava leaves, a rich source of vitamins and proteins, are ground into tapioca, which is used in snacks, chips, and puddings. Yucca plants yield two types of flour:
- Cassava Flour – Cassava roots are ground into flour for dumplings, cakes, pasta and breads. It is also useful in thickening puddings, sauces, custards, gravies, and baby foods. Cassava flour is used in the processing of meats and sausages as a binding agent.
- Tapioca Flour – Cassava leaves, are ground into a flour substitute for wheat and other carbohydrates. It creates a chewy texture and white finish to breads and cakes. Also, tapioca flour is ideal as a thickener since its aroma is very weak and does not overpower any food. Both flours are gluten-free.
Concerned that improperly processed Cassava causes sickness and death, two professors of plant biology created Cassava plants that are cyanogen-free. They reduced the linamarin in the leaf by 40 percent, and the roots’ cyanogen down to 1 percent or less. It is crucial that the plants retain some linamarin while in the growth stage. Therefore, Yucca should not be eaten raw! The new Yucca means safer food products.
Yucca and Pharmacology
Extract of Yucca is currently being used in the treatment of Herpes virus types, 1 and 2; fungi; inflammation; blood clots; tumors; hypertension; high cholesterol; migraine headaches and Leukemia. Yucca is also as an antioxidant. Additionally, Yucca supplements are available without prescription for problems of the skin, joints, digestion, toxic build-up and more.
Yucca for Dogs and cats
As yucca benefits people, it can benefit our pets, inasmuch as dogs and cats suffer from the same ailments that plague humans. Pet foods containing Yucca and Yucca supplements may be purchased online for dogs and cats and in pet stores specializing in natural products. All natural Yucca supplements are safer for your pet than numerous prescription medications. Any effective natural supplements will include Yucca for arthritis and joint health. With its use, Yucca dogs and cats are freed of allergy itches. Various other health issues, such as inflammation of joints and arthritis in cats and dogs can be relieved with Yucca. Similar to pharmaceutical steroids, it provides the same relief, but without the side effects. Amazingly, the same Yuccas that are poisonous to dogs and cats can also improve their lives!
Photo source: Suzan Marie