Herbs and spices have been used by humans for thousands of years, not only to add flavor to food but also for their health-giving properties.
We are well aware of the benefits of herbs and spices for humans, but what about our canine companions? What are safe spices for dogs? Are there herbs that are good for dogs?
Let’s take a closer look at the herbs, spices, and seasonings that dogs can eat safely and consider which ones may have health benefits.
Table of Contents
Dog safe herbs
The following herbs and spices are considered to be safe for dogs, although you should always follow your vet’s advice before adding them to your dog’s food and monitor your dog for signs of a reaction– for example, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Cilantro/ coriander
- Peppermint (not the oil).
- Parsley (curly)
Dog safe spices
- Anise seeds
What herbs are good for dogs?
Herbs contain chemical compounds called polyphenols which have many health-giving properties.
Polyphenols have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, meaning they can help to keep the body healthy and fight certain diseases.
Herbs also contain a wealth of micro-nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. There are many herbs that appear to be good for dogs, although science-based evidence is limited:
Camomile can be used as a mild sedative or anti-anxiety supplement for dogs. It also has muscle-relaxant properties and can be used for gastrointestinal inflammation (on the advice of a vet).
Camomile can also be used topically for minor skin irritation and inflammation. Camomile can be given to dogs in the form of a cooled tea, dried herb, capsule or in a cream for skin problems.
Echinacea can improve immune function, help reduce the severity of respiratory infections and work as an anti-inflammatory. It can be given as a powder, liquid or capsule form.
Cilantro is packed with micronutrients. It is particularly rich in vitamins C, E, B6, K, and A, as well as a range of minerals such as potassium and zinc.
Cilantro can help maintain healthy skin and coat, strong bones, and immune system.
It has antifungal and antibacterial properties and it may help keep your dog’s breath fresh. Simply chop up a few fresh leaves and sprinkle or mix into your dog’s food.
Parsley is known for its breath-freshening effects in dogs and it is also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals so adding it to your dog’s diet can be an excellent way to maintain good health. In fact it is so nutritious it is known as a superfood for dogs.
Parsley may also help to relieve skin irritation in dogs. It can be fed fresh or in dried form, but only in small amounts. Stick to curly parsley as other types of parsley may be toxic to dogs and only feed the leaves and stalks, never the seeds.
In small amounts, dill acts as an antispasmodic and can reduce flatulence, meaning it may help with mild gastrointestinal problems.
It may also ease constipation. The juice of the fresh dill plant can also reduce skin irritation. Dill can be fed fresh and chopped or in a dried form.
Peppermint can help to ease flatulence and nausea caused by travel sickness. It can also help to stimulate the appetite.
Peppermint can be fed fresh or dried in small amounts. Never feed peppermint oil or use it on your dog’s skin as it can be toxic.
Basil has a number of benefits including improved infection responses, lowering blood sugars and cholesterol, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Basil is also known to aid digestion so a garnish of basil on your dog's dinner can be a great addition to their diet.
What spices are good for dogs?
Like some herbs, spices contain natural compounds that may provide health benefits for your dog. It is important to check with your vet or canine nutritionist before adding anything new to your dog’s diet.
Also make sure you know how much to safely feed your dog, as many herbs and spices are safe and healthy in small amounts but can cause problems if fed in excess.
Turmeric is a 'superfood' and well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains potent antioxidants and has antibacterial and antiviral effects.
Turmeric appears to have anti-cancer properties and can also ease the pain of arthritis in dogs. It only needs to be fed in small amounts, feeding too much can cause gastrointestinal problems.
Turmeric is usually fed in powder or capsule form
Small amounts of cinnamon may help to regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation. Do not feed too much as this may cause gastrointestinal problems.
Be sure to mix it into your dog’s food so that he does not inhale it.
Ginger contains powerful antioxidants and it can help to reduce inflammation.
It may be particularly beneficial for dogs with arthritis and those suffering with nausea or vomiting due to travel sickness.
Ginger can be fed fresh, powdered, or in capsule form but only in small amounts.
What seasonings can dogs eat?
In addition to the dog safe herbs and spices listed above, you may be wondering about what seasonings can dogs have.
The most frequently used seasonings are salt and pepper. While a small amount of salt and pepper isn’t dangerous to your dog, they can get poorly if fed these seasonings in large amounts.
Sugar is another seasoning that is safe in very small amounts but shouldn’t be fed to your dog regularly.
There are an abundance of readily prepared seasonings available from the grocery store for every type of dish you can think of. Chicken and steak seasonings, spice mixes, hot seasonings, acid seasonings (eg vinegar), sweet mixes and millions more!
The key thing to consider if you are considering sharing any food with your pooch, is that there is nothing that could cause them harm in the seasoning mixes.
You need to watch out for onion, garlic, chili, xylitol, sodium levels and loads more things! If you are absolutely certain after checking the ingredients list that there is nothing harmful contained in the seasoning then sure a little taste will most likely be fine.
As always, with any new foods, do watch out for any adverse reactions and contact your veterinary practice should you have any concerns at all.
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Dog safe herbs and spices - final thoughts
Dog safe herbs and dog safe spices can provide a wealth of health benefits and can help in the management of certain doggy diseases such as arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, and skin irritation.
The key is to do your research, find out which part of the plant is safe to feed and how much to give your dog based on its size.
Always check with your vet before adding herbs and spices to your dog’s food, especially if the dog is very young, elderly or pregnant.
It is particularly important to have this discussion with your vet if your dog has ongoing medical issues as the active ingredients in herbs and spices may interact with any medication your dog is currently on.
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