We love our four-legged friends here at Spicewalla HQ and while the introduction of our Spicewagga Blend was nothing more than a light-hearted April Fools’ Day joke, we’d like to take the opportunity to talk more about dogs and spices. At one point or another you may have found yourself about to sit down to a delicious meal of people food, when you happen to look down and see your furry friend staring up at you with big ol’ puppy-dog eyes that seem to say “pleeeease can I have some?” Who can resist that? Maybe you give in to their begs every now and then, maybe you make them their own special meal, or maybe they get a bit mischievous and swipe something off your plate when your guard is down. In any case you’ll want to be conscious of any spices they may consume.
We humans have a whole wonderful world of spices at our fingertips to bring beautiful, exciting, and delicious flavour complexities to our food, but while these spices are safe and healthy for us to eat, some may be toxic to dogs because they metabolize foods differently from us. A prime example of this is garlic and onion powder. Garlic and onions are toxic to dogs because both contain thiosulfate, which causes damage to red blood cells in dogs. While studies have shown that it can take anywhere from 0.25 to 0.50 ounces of garlic per pound of body weight to produce harmful effects, some dogs are much more sensitive than others, so it’s best to avoid giving your pooch foods with garlic or onion altogether.
Other spices that can be toxic or have ill effects on dogs include bay leaves, cocoa powder, marjoram, mustard seed or powder, nutmeg (large amounts), salt, and Spanish thyme. Foods with cayenne or other chillis should also be kept away from dogs as high levels of capsaicin can cause significant irritation to a dog’s eyes, nose, and throat along with gastrointestinal issues.
On the flip side of things there are some spices, like cinnamon for example, that can offer some health benefits to your dog. Cinnamon can have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects, and can also help regulate blood sugar. No more than ⅛ to ½ a teaspoon per serving of food (depending on the dog’s size) should be consumed at a time though as large amounts of cinnamon can cause cause your dog to have an upset stomach.
Other spices that can offer health benefits to your dog include turmeric (anti-inflammatory), sage (vitamins, antioxidants, and gastrointestinal issues), ginger (anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, nausea relief), cilantro / coriander (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants), and rosemary (antioxidants, iron, calcium, vitamin B6). Keep in mind that recommended serving sizes of these spices are often quite small for dogs, so care should be taken to not give them too much. Consult your veterinarian to find out more about how certain spices might affect your particular pooch before introducing anything new to their diet.