You may well enjoy a spicy curry or other flavorsome meals, but you should probably think twice before offering the scraps to your canine companion. It’s common knowledge that some human foods can be dangerous to dogs, chocolate being the infamous example. But what about spices?
To help you get to grips with which spices are safe, and which ones aren’t, we’ve put together this handy guide. Below, we run through spices to avoid, spices that are safe, and why you might want to introduce certain spices into your pooch’s diet.
First and foremost, it’s important to know that certain spices can be dangerous to your dog’s health. Because dogs and humans have quite different digestive systems, certain compounds that humans handle just fine our toxic to our four-legged friends.
Below are some common spices that owners should avoid feeding their pets:
- Onion powder
Onion in all its forms can be dangerous for dogs. The root vegetable and its derivatives contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can accumulate in your dog’s body and damage their red blood cells. With long-term exposure, this can lead to anemia. In the short term, onion can also upset your pet’s stomach, causing diarrhea and vomiting.
Another human staple that shouldn’t be fed to canines is garlic. Although not all dogs react badly to garlic, to others it can be toxic. Like onion, garlic is a member of the Allium family, along with chives and leeks. It contains the same sulfoxides and disulfides that can be harmful to red blood cells.
- Cocoa powder
Cocoa powder, like chocolate, is a dangerous ingredient for dogs. Although it’s not a spice per se, it’s definitely worth a mention. Cocoa powder contains caffeine, which can damage your dog’s nervous system, damage the kidneys, and even contribute to heart problems in large doses.
It could be argued that salt is the most common spice humans use, but our pets just aren’t adapted to a salty diet. Too much salt in your dog’s diet can cause vomiting, dehydration, and nausea.
Believe it or not, something as innocuous-seeming as nutmeg can be profoundly harmful to dogs. When ingested, some dogs become hyper-active, before exhausting themselves. This is because chemicals in nutmeg agitate their nervous systems.
Famous for making people sneeze, pepper is even more irritating to a dog’s system. Like paprika, it can cause eye and stomach irritation, so should always be avoided.
- Tea tree oil
Oil from the tea tree plant makes a great topical skin treatment, thanks to its naturally antibacterial properties. However, you might want to avoid using tea tree on your dog’s skin. This is because dogs tend to lick their coats, and when ingested, tea tree can irritate their stomach.
Sometimes wormwood is used as an herbal flea treatment, but in large doses it can be harmful. If you want to use wormwood as an herbal remedy, seek veterinary advice first.
On the other hand, some herbs and spices are perfectly safe – and even beneficial – for dogs to consume.
This tasty Italian herb is totally safe for your pet – and it comes with other benefits, too. Basil is rich in antioxidants, has been known to lift the mood, and could even ease the symptoms of arthritis.
It’s delicious, it smells like christmas, and your dog can enjoy it too. Cinnamon is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and like basil is rich in antioxidants. Cinnamon can also improve your pooch’s smelly breath, making it a great all-rounder!
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Many people chew ginger or drink ginger tea when they want to soothe their stomach. Believe it or not, dogs can enjoy the fragrant route for the exact same reason. Like cinnamon, ginger boasts anti-inflammatory properties, and is also naturally antibacterial.
It’s high in antioxidants, fiber, and helps improve bad breath – what’s not to love about parsley? Fortunately, your canine companion can also enjoy all these parsley-related benefits, since the herb is totally safe for doggy consumption.
Recently, researchers discovered that turmeric may boost the metabolism, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. The spice can also benefit the joints, and even brain health – it’s another great all-rounder! Turmeric is also safe for dogs, and may well impart these same benefits.
- Caraway seeds
Like all nuts and seeds, caraway seeds are high in fiber, and contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals. They’re also known to promote muscular health. Best of all, caraway seeds are safe for dogs to eat, and our pooches seem to love the taste.
Rosemary is another great herb for overall wellness. It’s high in fiber, contains essential vitamins, and also boasts antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s safe for dogs in both fresh and dry forms.
- Aloe vera
Not technically an herb or spice, but a prominent botanical, aloe vera is safe and healthy for dogs. It can promote wound healing, and boost the immune system, as well as containing vital amino acids, iron, and potassium.
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Why Use Herbs and Spices in Your Dog’s Food?
As we have seen, certain herbs and spices impart some surprising health benefits. For this reason, they make a great natural supplement to your dog’s diet.
Choosing herbs and spices with anti-inflammatory properties, such as cinnamon, ginger, and rosemary, can be a great natural boost for pets suffering from arthritis and other joint conditions, while introducing fiber-rich caraway seeds can help improve digestion.
Which herbs and spices you feed your pet will depend upon their unique needs. Just be sure to double check our list before you start spicing up your dog’s diet – certain innocent-looking spices can be deadly if consumed by dogs.