What spices can dogs eat? 10 safe seasonings for your furry friend

Jack Russell Terrier next to bag of groceries containing herbs
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What spices can dogs eat? It’s a question you may have found yourself pondering if your canine companion tends to get into the kitchen cupboards when you’re not looking or you’re wanting to enhance the best dog food dishes that you’re serving up. 

While some herbs and spices are unsafe and need to be avoided, others have properties that may be beneficial to your pups health. With that in mind, it’s important to understand what spices are safe, when to use them and in what quantities.

We recommend that you always consult with your veterinarian before adding any spices into your dog’s diet. There are limited studies when it comes to pets consuming herbs and spices and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (opens in new tab) (FDA) does not regulate supplements in the same way they do drugs, which is why seeking professional guidance is crucial.

That being said, there is some promising research, such as a 2020 study published in the Archives of Animal Nutrition (opens in new tab), that suggest chemicals like curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, have anti-inflammatory properties that may assist in stimulating the antioxidant system and reducing inflammation. 

To help you figure out which spices might make for a beneficial addition to your fur friend's diet, we’ve rounded up our favorite nutrient-dense picks below, including calming options for anxious dogs and those that may help reduce digestive distress. 

1. Basil

Basil plant

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Anti-inflammatory and packed full of a wide range of antioxidants that are known to ward off a range of illnesses and diseases, including cancer, basil also has a calming effect that works wonders with anxious dogs. Oh, and did we mention it can also help ease joint pain in dogs suffering from arthritis? It seems like there’s nothing this green herb can’t do! 

You can serve up a small portion of finely chopped basil leaves as a topper on your dog’s dinner or give them a leaf or two straight off the plant. You can even give your pup a lick of pesto but just make sure it’s a dog-friendly version that’s free of garlic and walnuts, both of which are toxic for dogs.

2. Cilantro

Bunch of cilantro on white background

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Cilantro, also known as coriander, works wonders when it comes to alleviating nausea, easing intestinal gas and diarrhea, and detoxifying the body. It’s high in Vitamin A, C, potassium and zinc, and is well known for having anti-parasitic properties. 

You can add cilantro into homemade dog treats or sprinkle it on top of your dog’s food. It can be particularly helpful if they’re experiencing a stomach upset, although bear in mind that too much can actually exacerbate the problem, so use it in small quantities only to achieve the desired remedial effect. You’ll want to avoid giving your dog cilantro if they’re pregnant as it can stimulate contractions.

3. Cinnamon

Tied bunch of cinnamon sticks next to a small bowl of ground cinnamon

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Warming and nourishing, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and protects against heart disease while also having the potential to lower the risk of doggy dementia, a condition similar to human Alzheimer’s. It’s also great for regulating blood sugar and combating free radicals in the body.

Cinnamon and pumpkin are a match made in heaven so why not whip up a batch of homemade pumpkin dog treats or for something extra special, try this delicious pumpkin spiced latte recipe for dogs. We recommend you opt for Ceylon cinnamon as this has less of the blood-thinning compound coumarin than the more common Cassia variety.

4. Dill

Bunch of dill lying on a chopping board

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Antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial, dill contains a range of antioxidant flavonoids that have been proven to protect cells and chromosomes from oxygen-based damage and free radicals. It also contains potent oils, like limonene, that may help increase the production of cancer-fighting enzymes and it’s a brilliant digestive aid, helping to relieve gas, nausea and cramping.

If your doggy is suffering from digestive stress, why not make them up a bowl of soothing dill seed tea? Just mix one teaspoon of dill seed with eight ounces of warm water and once cool, give it to your pup. Avoid this if your dog is pregnant as dill has been known to cause miscarriages. 

5. Fennel

Fennel bulb sitting on table on hessian sack with half cut fennel placed beside

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Give your dog’s vision, bones, and immune system a boost with this vitamin and mineral-rich herb that’s also brilliant at freshening the breath and relieving indigestion. 

Fennel works beautifully in dog treat recipes or as a topper for the best wet dog food. Keep the dose of fennel low as excess quantities have been reported to cause breathing difficulties and heart palpitations. 

6. Ginger

Whole ginger, cut pieces of ginger, and powdered ginger on a bench

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A one-stop shop when it comes to alleviating nausea, bloating, and gastrointestinal issues, ginger also helps regulate blood sugar levels, can reduce the pain associated with arthritis and age-related joint pain, and is even said to boost brain function and block the growth of cancerous tumors.

You can add fresh ginger to the top of your dog’s food or make a batch of gingerbread cookies for dogs. Just be sure not to give them more than one teaspoon of raw ginger in a day as more than that can cause heartburn. 

7. Oregano

Bowl of dried oregano with fresh oregano lying beside it

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With a pungent smell and earthy flavor, oregano is a rich source of a range of vitamins plus Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and fiber. It has strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties, acting as a great body cleanser and it is particularly good at reducing inflammation and joint pain. 

You can purchase a dog food that contains oregano or sprinkle some of the fresh herb on top of your dog’s dinner. Oregano tea is also brilliant for soothing pain and digestive discomfort, simply add some of the leaves to warm water, allow to cool and then strain and serve to your dog.

8. Parsley

Curly parsley

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Is your doggy’s breath smelling less than fresh? Then it’s parsley to the rescue! Not only is parsley a great breath freshener, it’s also superb at relieving itchy skin and helping to clear up urinary tract infections. Plus, it acts as a diuretic, flushing toxins and waste from the body and it’s high in chlorophyll, which improves the health of blood cells.

Serve parsley leaves up on top of your dog’s dinner or make a parsley tea or soup. Opt for curly parsley rather than flat leaf and avoid any seeds, as these can be toxic for dogs in high doses. Avoid feeding parsley to pregnant dogs as it can induce labour. 

9. Peppermint

Cup of peppermint tea

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Well known for helping to relieve indigestion, sore stomachs and intestinal distress in humans, peppermint has a similar effect in dogs and is brilliant for helping to ease a wide range of digestive complaints. 

We recommend brewing up some peppermint tea for your dog if they’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhea but just be mindful that it can cause hypoglycemia in diabetics and should be avoided if your dog suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

10. Turmeric

Cut fresh turmeric root and turmeric powder

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Currently one of the trendier additions to dog food, turmeric is part of the ginger family and has an earthy flavor and rich yellow color. It has long been known to have power anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and can help health the cut, improve brain fucntion, fight free radicals and reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis.

It’s worth pointing out that turmeric acts as a blood thinner that may interact with other drugs and increase the risk of bleeding, so we recommend speaking with your vet before giving this to your dog. But if your pup isn’t on any drugs and your vet feels it’s appropriate, ¼ teaspoon for small dogs, ½ teaspoon for medium dogs, and 1 teaspoon for large dogs mixed into their food can be very beneficial.

If you'd like to learn more about which foods are safe for your canine companion to consume, our guide to what human food can dogs eat has got you covered.

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.