Last updated on August 12, 2019
Home cooking and adding supplements to a dog’s diet are popular options for modern dog parents, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. For example, is cumin safe for dogs? Not all spices are created equal and some spices can be harmful to dogs.
Most pet parents know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but what about the common seasonings and spices found in most kitchen cabinets right now? There are many herbs and spices that can be added to a dog’s diet to add flavor, encourage healthier eating, as well as benefiting the dog’s overall coat and organs. There, are, however, some seasonings and herbs dogs should not consume.
Always talk to your dog’s veterinarian and/or a veterinary nutritionist or herbalist before adding something new to the diet, or at the very least, ensure the seasoning or spice in question is verified as “safe” for your dog to eat. Keep in mind that what might be safe for some dogs, may cause a reaction in others. For example, my dog, Dexter, gets diarrhea if he eats any sort of chicken or chicken seasoning. While some dogs can have cumin powder, others may have side effects. We’ll explain more in this post. Dogs, like people, are unique individuals and may not react in the same way.
Never overload your dog’s system with too many herbs, spices, or seasonings because you want your pup to reap the benefits without overloading their delicate bodies. Here’s what you need to know about cumin for dogs, if it’s safe, the proper dosage, along with other spices that may be dangerous to dogs.
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Is Cumin Safe For Dogs
Cumin comes from the cumin plant, which happens to be a member of the parsley family. When purchased, it generally comes as a ground powder or whole dried seeds. There are potential health benefits in adding cumin to your dog’s diet IF it is the right dosage, the proper type, and you’ve cleared it with your dog’s vet before adding it to his diet.
There are different types of cumin seeds that vary in their oil content and flavor. On their own, cumin seeds tend to be hot, sharp, and have a bittersweet taste. This is why cumin seeds or powder are added to many Indian and Middle Eastern foods.
Cumin has touted medicinal purposes. In small amounts, cumin is generally safe for dogs. In large doses, it can trigger digestive upset or gas because cumin and dogs don’t always go together. Some people use cumin as an additional way to give their senior dogs a boost of energy or to enhance their immune systems. I would not recommend buying cumin and simply sprinkling it on your dog’s food without understanding the safe dosage, if your dog can tolerate it, and what your dog’s vet has to say first.
Dogs with a history of thin blood or who are on blood thinners should not be given any sort of supplement, including cumin, turmeric, or curcumin without consulting a vet first.
Is Curcumin The Same As Cumin For Dogs
Although they sound the same, curcumin and cumin are not the same. Curcumin is the active portion of turmeric while cumin is its own unique spice. Each has its own properties, have several qualities in common, but are different. One study called curcumin”cure-cumin” for its many beneficial qualities.
How we remember it is this: curcumin is the compound in turmeric, meaning its the most active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin is a very popular spice that has found its way into dog foods, supplements, and treats thanks to its extensive list of therapeutic uses.
Turmeric may help boost a dog’s cardiovascular health, improve memory, protect against anemia, cancer, arthritis, irritable bowel issues, strokes, and even help overweight dogs and their metabolism when trying to lose weight.
Not all turmeric is created equal, though, so always choose a supplement from a reputable brand, read verified reviews on Amazon if you purchase there, and talk to your dog’s vet. There are some really amazing holistic vets these days who do phone consultations for a fee, such as Dr. Laurie Coger, whom I highly recommend as we have utilized her services.
On its own, the curcumin in turmeric can be difficult to absorb in a dog’s delicate system. This is why you will often see turmeric paste or products that contain things like coconut oil or another more easily absorbed ingredient. You’ll often hear about golden paste, which is a recipe that is turmeric-based and more easily absorbed into a dog’s system.
If you are anything like me, you want to be sure that the spices and supplements you add to a dog’s diet are safe. I also don’t want to spend a ton of time preparing a paste, mixing, refrigerating, blah blah blah. A few products I like that are turmeric-based are Solaris from Dr. Harvey’s. It’s a whole food supplement with no chemicals or preservatives that gets added to your dog’s food. If you make a golden paste for your dog, keep in mind it leaves a dog’s system quickly, so smaller more frequent doses added to meals is the best way to administer it.
Here are a few other curcumin-based supplements that are easy to administer. Be warned, dogs with sensitive stomachs may have digestive upset from these products, so use caution and go slow in administration. More about that later.
What Are The Spices That Can Be Harmful To Dogs
Despite all of the benefits of herbs, spices, and supplements that can help dogs, there are spices that can be harmful to dogs as well. Here are spices bad for dogs:
Nutmeg is one of the ingredients generally found in pumpkin spice mix and in items that are part of the pumpkin spiced food. It is imperative that if you feed your dog pumpkin to help his tummy, you do not get the kind used for pies and pie mixes. You DO want the natural canned pumpkin; however natural canned pumpkin is rich in fiber, so proceed with caution in how much and how often you feed your dog.
Nutmeg can cause a dog to vomit, become hyper, and because it contains myristicin, which is a known toxin. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, if your dog ingests a small amount of nutmeg, such as in a cookie, it is unlikely to cause toxic damage. However, a small amount can cause stomach upset. Ingesting a large amount of nutmeg can lead to “hallucinations, disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and possibly seizures.”
If you do any sort of baking, especially cookies, or during the busy holiday season, keep jars of spices and seasonings away from prying paws. Learn more about what pumpkin is safe for dogs.
Some pet treat companies put cinnamon in their dog treats, so if you wonder ‘can dogs eat cinnamon,’ well yes and no. Cinnamon is one of those spices that can be both beneficial and harmful to dogs, depending on the type and dosage. If your dog has a bit of cinnamon, this is generally okay. If your dog consumes a large amount of cinnamon, it would be best to call your veterinarian. There are many variations of cinnamon, and this is the concern.
The Pet Poison Helpline advises “it takes a larger amount of ingested cinnamon powder to cause problems in our pets (greater than 1 teaspoon of powder for most pets) but only a small amount of the essential oil. Large overdoses of the powder or exposure to the essential oil can lead to low blood sugar, liver disease, vomiting, diarrhea and changes in heart rate. Some dogs who are ingesting the powdered spice directly can inhale the spice. This is very irritating to the lungs and can cause coughing, choking, difficulty breathing and bronchospasm.”
In small infrequent doses, cinnamon is touted as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and may even help your dog’s bad breath. For me, I don’t give my dog cinnamon as there are other more effective ways to build up immunity, ward off cancers, and keep a dog’s breath fresh.
Is paprika bad for dogs? Yes! In addition to skin and eye irritation if the dog inhales it or gets near it, it can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and overall stomach upset. There is no reason to add paprika to a dog’s diet because it could end up doing more harm than good. It’s best to avoid giving a dog paprika altogether.
Salt is very dangerous to dogs. So many human foods, snacks, treats, and cookies contain salt. Did you know that most homemade Christmas ornaments contain table salt? Large amounts of salt can cause kidney issues amongst other things. Salt has the potential to kill a dog. The level of toxicity from salt ingestion is moderate to severe and life-threatening.
Salt is also found in homemade play dough, de-icing products like rock salt, sea water, enema solutions, and many homemade holiday ornaments. Dogs who are affected by salt ingestion may vomit, have diarrhea, become lethargic, have tremors or seizures, lack an appetite, and may even go into a coma. Get immediate help if you suspect your dog has salt poisoning,
Many of the foods humans eat contain ingredients that can be poisonous to dogs. The toxic portion of an onion that can harm a dog is called thiosulfate. It damages a dog’s red blood cells and the dog can become anemic or worse. The entire onion contains thiosulfate so never give onions to a dog. Cocker Spaniel owners are all too familiar with IMHA, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, which destroys the dog’s red blood cells and causes anemia. It’s a very lethal condition and needs to be caught early and treated aggressively.
Can dogs eat onion powder? All forms of onions, whether dried, powdered, cooked, or fresh, can be toxic to dogs. Do not give your dog onion powder or any form or onion products.
If your dog eats a small piece of onion, perhaps that dropped on the floor while cooking, this likely won’t make your dog ill. A dog who eats a large quantity needs help immediately. Call your vet, get to an emergency facility, and don’t delay in getting treatment.
It is well known that chocolate is a big no-no because chocolate is dangerous to dogs. Cocoa powder can have many of the same effects as chocolate to a dog. Like chocolate, cocoa powder contains theobromine, which can cause heart problems, kidney problems, and even death.
The folks at petMD have a chocolate toxicity meter that you can use if your dog happens to ingest any sort of chocolate, cocoa powder, or baker’s chocolate, etc.
As discussed above, the turmeric dosage for dogs varies and given too much, turmeric can cause problems for dogs. In general, a quality turmeric product is safe for dogs in small quantities. If you happen to see turmeric on a bag of dog food kibble, it is likely there for coloring or flavoring and not for any sort of medicinal or anti-inflammatory properties.
Although small quantities of turmeric may boost a dog’s immune system and help in other ways, it can cause gastrointestinal upset in some dogs and skin irritation as well. According to Whole Dog Journal, there have been few studies to date on the safety and efficacy of turmeric usage in dogs. If your dog has liver issues, turmeric may aggravate that. In fact, too much turmeric can impede the dog’s ability to absorb the herb.
According to webMD, some people using turmeric experience stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. Since dogs can’t tell us what they feel, pay close attention to how much and the quality of turmeric you give your dog.
Working as a dog writer means I research a lot and meet many experts in the veterinary world. I first learn of a minty oil called pennyroyal at a pet industry conference a few years ago. Scarily, pennyroyal can be found in some products touted for pets. Pennyroyal can be toxic to dogs, so keep it out of your dog’s life, his diet, and most certainly his reach.
Those in folk medicine have long touted the efficacy of pennyroyal as an insect repellant. This is one of those cases where putting an essential oil on your dog to prevent fleas can actually cause severe damage or poisoning. Over at Pet Poison Helpline they have this to say about pennyroyal and dogs, “We can see the dog become sick after exposure with vomiting, diarrhea, both of which can be bloody, lethargy and death due to hepatic necrosis. Again, aggressive veterinary care is needed to try to support the liver and prevent liver failure. Pennyroyal is a known toxin to dogs and all forms of it should be avoided in dogs.”
Be sure to read any non-chemical flea and tick preventatives that you plan to put on your dog and ensure ingredients such as pennyroyal are not listed.
Sometimes used under the supervision of a veterinarian, wormwood is touted as a natural dewormer in dogs. That doesn’t mean wormwood is safe to administer to dogs. If a dog has pre-existing liver disease, kidney issues, or seizures, wormwood should be avoided at all costs. Because wormwood contains a toxic ingredient called absinthe, dogs can be poisoned by it.
In humans, wormwood can cause seizures, vertigo, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, and even brain damage. There are too many risks involved in giving dogs wormwood, so we advise against it.
We’ve written about the many safe ways to identify, prevent, treat, and eliminate worms in dogs.
If you’ve ever looked for treatments online to help a dog with inflammation or pain, you may have stumbled upon comfrey. Did you know comfrey also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, located mostly on the root of the plant, which may liver problems when ingested in large quantities?!
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in comfrey can be absorbed through the skin and I would never personally use it on my dog. These alkaloids work by blocking small blood vessels in the liver, which can lead to liver failure or cirrhosis. This applies to both people and pets. I’ve read of people who use it with success and often use it on their dogs. I am not one of those people. I err on the side of caution and avoidance.
Rosemary is one of those grey area spices when it comes to safety in dogs. According to foremost authority in the veterinary world, Dr. Jean Dodds, a potentially toxic exposure that can trigger seizures in epileptic dogs is rosemary.
That is not to say that rosemary is inherently dangerous to many dogs, but any spice, herb, or seasoning should qualify as “safe to feed dogs” before doing so. Rosemary is often used as a preservative in dog shampoos, dog treats, dog foods, and more.
Although rosemary is not listed on any poison lists we could find, rosemary does contain volatile oils that can cause stomach upset or depression of the nervous system if large amounts are ingested.
Again, it depends on the form of rosemary being used and the quantity. I am unable to find any solid research about the connection between rosemary and seizures in dogs, but I am one of those err on the side of caution people. I know enough dog owners over decades of research and experience to know many of them avoid rosemary in pet food or pet product ingredients.
Be Prepared For Dog Emergencies
One of the pocket guides I keep in my dog’s first aid kit is the Pet Emergency Pocket Guide. It is small, compact, and nicely priced so I can reference it when seconds matter. If you don’t already have a pet first aid kit, now’s the time to snag one so that you have everything you need in the event of an emergency.
Also, vomiting should only be induced in situations where you have received guidance to do so from a qualified veterinary professional or pet poison expert. Sometimes inducing vomiting can actually harm the pet more as the contents come up through the esophagus, throat, and mouth.
If you want your dog to live longer, we’ve talked to dog owners whose dogs live long lives.
Who To Call For Dog Toxin Emergencies
If you suspect your dog has ingested something dangerous, never wait. Call your dog’s vet or emergency veterinary service. Two numbers to keep handy, although they come with a fee (that is worth it when seconds matter) are the ASPCA Animal Poison Hotline at 888-426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.
Here is a handy chart to use, share, print, and/or save where it is accessible. You may not have heard of some of these, but that’s the point: These are dog spices you might not realize can seriously harm your pooch or worse.
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