Plants & Pets
We love our pets and we love our gardens. It is a simple truth. Guess who else loves our garden? Our sweet K9 companion! So, it is important that we plant only pet-friendly plants, herbs and spices. Now, the question: Can dogs eat herbs and spices? Yes. We are happy to inform you that dogs can indeed consume some herbs and spices without any disastrous side-effect. There is nothing like well-seasoned food to add some spice to your meals. Even dogs appreciate some extra flavour from time to time. Though garlic, salt, and onion powder are off the table, it does not mean that your dog's food has to be bland. Besides being tasty, many dog-friendly herbs and spices have health benefits for our furry companions. Dogs require vitamins as a regular part of their diet just like we do. A great source of vitamins and antioxidants that boost your dog’s immune system and digestive system can all be found in herbs and spices.
What is the difference between an herb and a spice?
Herbs and spices are often confused. This makes perfect sense because some plants can be used as herbs and spices. This distinction is made by the way in which the plant is consumed; herbs are consumed as fresh plants, while spices are consumed as dried plants. For example, basil can be sold as a fresh herb, or it can be dried and sold as a spice.
These five herbs and spices are fantastic additions to your dog’s healthy diet: Coriander (anti-parasitic, anti-diarrhoea, eases nausea, alleviates intestinal gas); Ginger (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); Peppermint (soothes an upset stomach, relieves intestinal gas, treats diarrhoea, alleviates irritable bowel syndrome); Turmeric (relieves arthritis, anti-inflammatory, improves gut health, boosts brain function) Cinnamon (fights against heart disease, anti-inflammatory, regulates blood sugar, anti-cancer properties).
Here are five herbs and spices that you should avoid feeding your dog: Nutmeg (tt can cause a severe upset stomach for dogs, as well as extensive damage to your dog’s nervous system); Onion (consuming onions can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and an upset stomach, as well as intense damage to red blood cells for dogs. This applies to onion powder, too); Cocoa powder (Cocoa powder is extremely harmful to your dog’s nervous system. Although cocoa powder is not a spice by definition, it is often used in cooking and should be kept out of reach from your pup. Cocoa powder can also cause kidney and heart problems in your dog) Garlic (Garlic can be toxic to your pup if administered in large amounts. You should avoid giving your dog garlic at all. If they do consume a small amount of garlic in the powdered form, they will be okay); Black Pepper (Black pepper itself is not poisonous for dogs, however it does contain piperine, which increases the absorption of prescription medicines. This causes a great risk of overdose for your pet, so it is best to avoid black pepper if possible).
Then, thyme is a good herb for dogs. Thyme has major health benefits for your dog. Thyme creates a healthier digestive tract, and can also help with irritable bowels. In addition, thyme also aids in ousting parasites such as hookworm. Mix in one teaspoon of fresh or dried thyme per pound of food for your large dog’s dinner. Basil is also great for your dog’s health. Basil contains antioxidants, and also has anti-inflammatory properties which help to repel a variety of illnesses. Basil can also help alleviate anxiety and arthritis. Be sure to closely watch the amount of basil you feed your dog, especially for small dogs; a safe amount is about 2-3 leaves depending on your dog’s size. Rosemary is safe for your pup too. Rosemary is okay to add into your dog’s diet. It is high in iron and calcium, and also has great antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Be warned that if consumed in large quantities, rosemary can cause an upset stomach and itchy skin; do not allow your dog to consume more than 5 grammes of rosemary. Parsley is a healthy addition to your dog’s dinner. Parsley is high in fiber, and is great for your dog’s digestive health. Parsley is also a great breath freshener for your pup! For small dogs, add one teaspoon to their food and for large dogs, add one tablespoon to their food. Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) is safe for your dog. This herb is known for relieving stress, boosting the immune system, and its anti-inflammatory properties. You can give your pet 250mg of this herb per every fifteen pounds of body weight. However, not all the herbs should be given together, and only occasionally one of them should be used. Or, consult a vet.
It may come as a no surprise to you that some herbs that are good for humans, are bad for pets. Not only that, but there are herbs that are safe for some types of pets, yet are toxic to others. For example, horsetail is toxic to horses, ironically enough. It helps dogs in several ways, however, and is commonly recommended for joint health. Additionally, the toxicity status may not be available for all pets, leaving us in the dark one way or another. Then there are related concerns as well, such as allergic reactions or drug interactions. When in doubt, discuss it with your veterinarian or skip it altogether. Remember, too, that any plant can be toxic if you do not follow instructions or feed too much.
Following is a list of common herbs that are known to be toxic to some (or all) pets. Borage (Borage officinalis) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Borage tannins and mucilage can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and dermatitis. Caraway (Carum carvi) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Caraway oils, carvone and limonene can cause gastrointestinal upset. Eucalyptus species are toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Eucalyptus oils (eucalyptol) can cause digestive upset, hypersalivation, weakness and depression. Hops (Humulus lupulus) are toxic to dogs. Hops may cause an elevated temperature, seizures or death. Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Lovage has volatile oils, including phthalide lactones, and it’s a diuretic. Marijuana (Cannabis sativa/indica) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Marijuana contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which may result in listlessness, excitation, digestive upset, low blood pressure, low temperature, seizures, or coma. Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is toxic to dogs and cats. Marjoram can irritate the gastrointestinal system, resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea. Mint (Mentha sp.) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Mint’s essential oils may cause digestive issues if large amounts are ingested. Sorrel (Rumex scutatus) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Sorrel contains soluble oxalates. In small amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal upset. Regularly consuming high amounts may cause serious organ damage. Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) Tarragon oils are considered toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Ingesting the herb may result in mild digestive upset. Yucca spp. is toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Yucca’s saponins may cause digestive upset in dogs and cats. Yucca may cause dermatitis or liver disease in horses. Oregano might be tasty for humans, but it can cause stomach upset and low blood sugar in canines. Too much salt in a dog's diet can cause a potentially deadly condition called hypernatremia.
Thus, to sum up, some herbs and spices can be consumed safely by your pet, while some can cause digestive upset in dogs, whereas others are downright toxic to canines.