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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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If you and your canine companion love hanging out in the kitchen together and cooking up a storm, it’s likely you’ve found yourself asking the question ‘what spices can dogs eat?’ 

It’s common for pet parents to want to add new and exciting flavors to their fur baby’s food rotation and the good news is, there’s plenty of spices that are safe and beneficial for dogs.

While the best dog food ticks all the boxes when it comes to nutrition and pure deliciousness, sometimes it’s nice to add some variety to kibble and wet food by topping it with other ingredients, and herbs and spices are perfect for this.

The key with any new food is to introduce it slowly and in moderation to see how your dog reacts. Use spices in much the same way you would the best dog treats, in small quantities, and monitor your dog to see how they go with each new spice that you give them.

Herbs and spices come packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and each one has a range of health benefits that can relieve everything from joint pain to digestive disturbances while boosting immune and heart health and improving cognitive function.

As with any new food, we recommend speaking to your vet if you plan on incorporating spices into your dog’s diet, especially given some of them are known to interact with certain drugs and can cause side effects if dished up incorrectly. But as long as your vet gives you the green light, the below spices can all make a healthy addition to your mutt’s meal plan.  

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.