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Herbs and spices that are OK for dogs.

The essentials

  • Some herbs are healthy and even beneficial for your dog — It’s important to do your research to learn which herbs are safe to feed to your furry friend.
  • Certain herbal remedies that are safe for humans are toxic to dogs — Before administering any kind of dietary supplement, check with your veterinarian.
  • Every dog is different — Like with humans, dogs have their own sensitivities and allergies, which is why it’s important to carefully monitor your dog after feeding them herbs and spices and contact your vet if anything seems off.

Every pet parent wants the best for their puppy or dog, which means researching both medical and holistic ways to keep them healthy. Like with some safe human foods, dogs can reap several health benefits from ingesting certain herbs and spices known to decrease inflammation, increase energy, and improve mood. However, when selecting herbal remedies, it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure they will positively impact your dog’s health. Certain herbs and spices are toxic to dogs.

Read on for our list of the top herbs and spices we recommend for your dog—plus others  you should avoid.

Safe and healthy spices and herbs for dogs

Nutrient-rich filled spices and herbs can be a blessing in disguise for canines. Brimming with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, these good herbs and spices will improve your dog’s digestion, elevate their mood, and even help with bad breath. Enter good spices and herbs.

👉 Always consult with your veterinarian before offering your dog any spices or herbs. 

1. Aloe vera

One of the best herbs for your dog is aloe vera. Boasting powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, it’s a key antioxidant that enhances your dog’s immune system.

Benefits of aloe vera: 

  • Boosts immune system
  • Enhances healing process

How to administer to your dog: Apply topically to your dog’s skin to heal and soothe.

2. Basil

This fresh herb is filled with endless essential minerals and vitamins that have antioxidants and antimicrobial properties. Basil helps with disease prevention and enhances your dog’s health.

Benefits of basil: 

  • May help boost mood
  • May prevent certain diseases
  • Promotes overall health

How to administer to your dog: Feed your dog a small amount of dry or fresh basil with meals regularly.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is more than just delicious, it contains a wide array of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit your dog.

Benefits of of cinnamon:

  • Fights bad breath
  • May protect against diabetes and sepsis

How to administer to your dog: To reap the benefits, mix ground cinnamon into your dog’s food.

4. Ginger

Enter ginger root. This is where digestive health is key and your dog will enjoy the benefits of the root’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. This promotes an enhanced digestive system as the root helps with pet food absorption.

Benefits of ginger: 

  • Increase circulation
  • Improves digestive system
  • Alleviates nausea
  • Aids with motion sickness

How to administer to your dog: Feed your dog ginger root finely chopped, ground, or dried.

5. Parsley

Parsley is filled with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that improves your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.

Benefits of parsley: 

  • Enhances organ functioning
  • Improves dog breath
  • Flushes toxins

How to administer to your dog: Administer your pooch fresh parsley for the most benefits, but dry parsley is effective as well.

6. Rosemary

This high fiber herb is reported to improve your dog’s health. Made with essential vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, rosemary can possibly help to fight off certain diseases.

Benefits of rosemary: 

  • Has potential to prevent certain diseases
  • Promotes heart health

How to administer to your dog: Give your dog either fresh or dry rosemary and they’ll absorb the benefits.

7. Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice where a little goes a long way in benefiting your dog. Thanks to the super power ingredient curcumin in the spice, it improves your dog’s immune system with anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties.

Benefits of turmeric: 

  • Boosts metabolism and immune system
  • Wards off infection
  • Improves the healing process

How to administer to your dog: To administer your dog turmeric, feed them like you’re feeding them dog food by administering up to ⅛ teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight each day to help with the healing process.  Be aware, however, that turmeric can exacerbate certain medical conditions in dogs.

👉 Too much turmeric is bad on the digestive system, if you suspect your dog has ingested a large amount of the spice, contact Animal Poison Control immediately: (888) 426-4435 

8. Oregano oil

Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, oregano is also an anti-inflammatory that can have great benefits, especially for dogs with arthritis or dogs prone to inflammation flare-ups. It also has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, which help support your dog’s immune system.

Benefits of oregano:

  • High in antioxidants
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Protects against infection

How to administer to your dog: To actually benefit from oregano, it’s best to give dogs oregano oil. Add 1-2 drops in your dog’s food. Be sure to read the label to ensure the oil has been properly diluted and is safe for use. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian.

9. Chamomile

Used as a natural sedative, chamomile has calming effects both on humans and dogs. Chamomile can also be used on dogs — and rarely, on cats—as a natural muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory.

Benefits of chamomile: 

  • Reduces stress and soothes anxious pets
  • Eases pain from arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, and inflammation
  • Helps pets fall asleep

How to administer to your dog: Chamomile is given by mouth either as a tea, liquid, capsule, or powder or administered topically as a cream, oil, or salve. As with all herbs for dogs, be mindful of how much you give, as the herb can be toxic in large quantities.

Spices and herbs that are bad for your dog

Not all spices and herbs are good for your dog and some can create serious problems. Spices that are perfectly good for pet owners can wreak havoc on your dog’s system from abdominal pain to vomiting and even death. Find out what to keep away from your dog to keep them safe.

1. Garlic

Keep garlic away from your dog. It’s extremely toxic to your dog and contains a compound called organosulfur that adversely impacts your dog’s red blood cells, overwhelming the cell’s antioxidant properties. It changes the blood cell’s shapes that leads to potential rupturing. If the red blood cells change and break, less oxygen is transported to your pet’s tissues, organs, and muscles. This leads to decreased energy, anemia, organ failure, and possibly death.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale gums
  • Red urine

What garlic products to avoid: Garlic powder, garlic cloves, chutney, pasta, soups, sauces, butter, oil, and baby food with garlic flavoring.

How to avoid ingestion: Since garlic is found in many human foods, keep all forms of garlic in high cupboards away from your dog. If you’re growing garlic in your garden, place a fence around the plants as a preventative measure.

What to do if your dog ingests garlic: If your dog ingests garlic, immediately take them to your vet.

2. Cocoa powder

Similar to chocolate, cocoa powder is an important spice to keep out of your dog’s diet. It contains a compound like caffeine known as theobromine which speeds up your pet’s heart rate and impacts your dog’s nervous system. Cocoa powder is seriously dangerous for dogs and can even increase the likelihood of heart problems like a heart attack.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

What cocoa powder products to avoid: Cocoa powder, granola bars, chocolate mousse, puddings, smoothies, hot cocoa, dark chocolate, and cocoa butter.

How to avoid ingestion: Many of us keep cocoa powder on hand in the kitchen for baking. Make sure to wipe off baking surfaces and utensils after use to prevent your dog from ingesting the powder.

What to do if your dog ingests cocoa powder: Call your vet immediately if your dog consumes cocoa powder. Your vet may induce vomiting. They may also want to give your dog activated charcoal, which can help prevent any remaining chocolate in their stomach from being absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream.

3. Nutmeg

This sweet-smelling spice may be everything nice to pet parents, but to your dog it’s anything but. Nutmeg is dangerous for dogs and is made with the toxin myristicin that causes abdominal pain when ingested in large amounts. The Pet Poison Helpline notes that symptoms can occur for up to 48 hours and in small doses a reaction is unlikely to take place.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Over excited
  • Death in serious cases

What nutmeg products to avoid: Cookies, eggnog, curries, sauces, bechamel sauce, mulled wine, chai tea, and apple pies.

How to avoid ingestion: To avoid ingestion, store nutmeg and nutmeg products in overhead shelves.

What to do if your dog ingests nutmeg: It depends on how much your dog consumes. In small amounts the chances of toxicity are low. If your dog ingests a large amount of nutmeg, contact your vet or Pet Poison Helpline for help.

4. Onions and chives

Onions and chives have the same effect as garlic does on your pet. Both raw and cooked versions are harmful to your dog’s health. The kitchen staples contain N-propyl disulfide known to cause red blood cells to rupture. This could lead to anemia, organ failure, and possibly death.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Weakness

What onion and chive products to avoid: Table people foods containing onion, onion powder, french onion soup, creamed onion, salads, vegetable stocks, and some baby foods.

How to avoid ingestion: Keep all onions and chives out of your dog’s reach by storing on higher shelves in a cool pantry.

What to do if your dog ingests onion or chives: Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible as they may want to induce your pet to vomit.

5. Salt

Salt is a flavorful addition to most foods, but salt can be harmful to your dog. Recommended sodium intake is low for dogs and with too much salt in your dog’s diet it can lead to negative effects and even sodium ion poisoning.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Fevers
  • Seizures

What salt products to avoid: Table salt, ocean water, processed meat, chips, cheese, fries, salted nuts, soup, salad dressing, lunch meats, instant noodles, and pretzels.

How to avoid ingestion: With so many products with salt, it’s best to keep salty foods off the coffee table and in high places where your dog is less likely to access them.

What to do if your dog ingests salt: If you suspect your dog has consumed too much salt, contact your vet immediately.

6. Paprika

Paprika may be flavorful for pet owners, but it’s harmful to your dog. Although it’s not toxic, it’s made with the ingredient capsaicin which leads to many gastrointestinal problems.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Nasal irritation
  • Gastrointestinal issues

What paprika products to avoid: Hungarian cuisine and certain seasonings

How to avoid ingestion: Avoid all paprika products all together to keep your dog from ingesting the spice.

What to do if your dog ingests paprika: If your dog consumes paprika, they’re likely to have minor reactions. However, in large doses you may want to contact their veterinarian.

7. Pepper

Like paprika, pepper has similar effects on canines. Small amounts shouldn’t create serious problems, however in larger amounts it can create stomach problems and irritations.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Skin and eye irritations
  • Diarrhea

What pepper products to avoid: Black pepper.

How to avoid ingestion: Store black pepper in a spill-proof container in your spice cabinet to keep it out of your dog’s reach.

What to do if your dog ingests pepper: Follow the same directions for paprika.

8. Mace

Similar to nutmeg, mace is a common herb that isn’t safe for your dog to consume. In large amounts, mace can create serious problems.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Central nervous system issues
  • Drowsiness

What mace products to avoid: Indian cuisine, hot dogs, homemade pickles, stews, and curries.

How to avoid ingestion: Store mace in a closed container to avoid consumption.

What to do if your dog ingests mace: If you suspect your dog ingested a large amount of mace, call your veterinarian.

9. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is okay for your dog only as a topical treatment. If your dog ingests tea tree oil, it can lead to poisoning.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Decreased body temperature
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Coma

What tea tree oil products to avoid: Any products that contain more than one to  two percent concentration.

How to avoid ingestion: If you apply a topical treatment of essential oils on your dog, prevent them from licking it off themselves. If this proves to be difficult, stop using tea tree oil all together.

What to do if your dog ingests tea tree oil: Make sure to contact your veterinarian or Poison Helpline immediately.

10. Yuca

Grown in the desert, this herb is known to irritate your dog’s intestine and create stomach problems if consumed at a high dose.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Intestinal irritation

What yuca products to avoid: Fried, boiled, and mashed yuca.

What to do if your dog ingests yuca: In small doses, the herb is safe for your dog to consume. However, if your dog ingests large doses contact your veterinarian.

11. Hops

Hops are very dangerous for your dog due to their chemical compounds. The compounds increase your dog’s body temperature rapidly which can lead to organ damage in severe cases.

Symptoms of ingestion: 

  • Panting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Overexcitement

What hops products to avoid: Beer or fresh hops.

What to do if your dog ingests hops: If you suspect your dog ingested hops, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. They will likely treat your dog with charcoal or induced vomiting.

Frequently asked questions

Are herbs good for dogs?

Yes, some herbs and spices are good for dogs. You can add non-toxic herbs such as ginger, oregano, chamomile and more to enrich your dog’s diet. However, it is also important to be aware of herbs and spices that can be toxic to dogs, such as garlic, onion powder, and cocoa powder.

Can I feed cocoa powder to my dog?

Cocoa powder is extremely toxic to dogs. If you find your dog has ingested cocoa powder or chocolate, notify Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.

What is a good anti-inflammatory for my dog?

Plenty of herbs and spices act as anti-inflammatories for dogs. Popular choices include oregano oil and chamomile, known to have anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe arthritis pain or pain from infection.

Which herbs are toxic for my dog?

Plenty of herbs are toxic to dogs. We’ve included a list of 11 herbs that dogs should not ingest, but it’s important to talk to your vet prior to feeding your pet any herb, as weight, height, and other factors play a role in the herb’s toxicity levels.

Can I feed my dog peppermint?

Mint should only be given to dogs in small quantities and under the supervision of a vet. While some websites will claim that mint is perfectly safe for dogs, VCA Hospitals and other veterinary sources have documented its toxic effects. Once again, be sure to speak to your vet before giving your dog any kind of herb or spice.