There's nothing like well-seasoned food to add some spice to your meals. Even dogs appreciate some extra flavor from time to time. Though garlic, salt, and onion powder are off the table, it doesn't mean that your dog's food has to be flavorless.
Besides being tasty, many dog-friendly herbs and spices have health benefits for our furry companions. We'll help you distinguish between the safe and dangerous herbs and spices so you can safely add some pizzazz to your doggy's meals.
You probably know that rosemary adds a woodsy flavor to foods, but you might be surprised at this herb's nutrient profile. When used in moderation, rosemary can promote heart and immune health. Rosemary even has antibacterial properties. In fact, it's sometimes added to dog food since it acts as a natural preservative.
Dill supports healthy digestion and can thwart stomach upset, cramps, and gas. Besides eliminating smelly gas, dill, like parsley, can remedy bad breath.
Cinnamon makes an excellent addition to dog biscuits since dogs love the flavor and its benefits too. Cinnamon's anti-inflammatory properties can help with joint pain and stiffness, especially in older pooches. Cinnamon is also proven to increase circulation and combat hypertension.
Ginger is a fantastic digestive aid that can combat nausea and vomiting in dogs with sensitive tummies. One promising study also shows that ginger may be able to kill heartworm larvae in newly infected dogs.
Curcumin, an active compound in turmeric, is an antioxidant that promotes wound healing, decreases inflammation, and even has antimicrobial properties.
Some herbs and spices can cause digestive upset in dogs, whereas others are downright toxic to canines. Here's a reference list of herbs and spices that are harmful to dogs:
Salt. Too much salt in a dog's diet can cause a potentially deadly condition called hypernatremia.
Cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is one of the most dangerous forms of chocolate for dogs due to its high theobromine content. Ingesting large amounts of cocoa powder can cause stomach upset and even organ failure.
Nutmeg. The chemical compound myristicin found in nutmeg can cause hallucinations, seizures, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure in dogs.
Garlic. Did you know garlic contains a compound called thiosulfate that can damage your dog's red blood cells?
Onion powder. Like garlic, onions contain thiosulfate, which can harm your dog's red blood cells.
Mint. The essential oils in mint can cause lethargy and digestive upset in dogs.
Marjoram. Ingestion of marjoram causes gastric upset in dogs and may even slow the body's blood-clotting mechanisms.
Caraway. Caraway poisoning in dogs is a serious condition categorized by convulsions, thinning of the blood, and organ damage.
Oregano. Oregano might be tasty for humans, but it can cause stomach upset and low blood sugar in canines.
Sorrel. Sorrel poisoning in dogs can cause burning of the mouth, stomach upset, and, in severe cases, seizures and low blood calcium levels.
Tarragon. Ingesting tarragon can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and diarrhea in dogs.
As you can see, herbs and spices can be a flavorful and healthful addition to a dog's diet — that is, if you know which ones are safe to use. A sprinkle of basil or parsley on your dog's treats is sure to get a kiss of approval from your canine companion. Just steer clear of known toxic herbs and spices like garlic, salt, cocoa, and nutmeg. It's a good idea to talk to your vet about pet-safe herbs and spices before adding them to your pet's diet. And remember, not all herbs that are safe for dogs are also safe for cats.