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Gingerbread is as soul-warming as it is sweet. Soft, aromatic, and inviting, this Christmas specialty is a healthy and well-loved treat by almost everyone.
But what about dogs? Can dogs eat gingerbread or is it unsafe for them?
No, dogs shouldn’t eat gingerbread. While it isn’t toxic and ginger itself is healthy in moderation, gingerbread is often made with ingredients that can potentially be unhealthy for dogs. Such ingredients include baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Moreover, excessive consumption of butter, flour, and sugar may cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and weight gain that may lead to diabetes and obesity in dogs.
If your dog eats a cookie or two without your permission, he’s likely not in immediate danger. He may experience a bit of stomach ache or diarrhea and vomiting, but these symptoms should clear right up after a few hours.
It’s a different story if your dog eats three or more in succession. Along with cinnamon, cloves, and ginger powder, nutmeg is one of the major spices used in gingerbread. Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin that can potentially be deadly to dogs in large amounts.
Signs of nutmeg poisoning include the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Abdominal pain
- High blood pressure
- Dry mouth
Apart from nutmeg’s toxicity, gingerbread contains a fair amount of sugar and fat, both of which are harmful in large doses. Too much sugar and fat causes a wide array of health issues including diabetes, obesity, pancreatitis, arthritis, and inflammation.
Excess sugar may also increase a dog’s insulin secretion, another potentially life-threatening scenario that’s best avoided.
Star anise, another ingredient in gingerbread, is poisonous in large amounts. It’s also known to make dogs hyperactive, which may lead to injuries and undesirable behaviors.
If you want to feed your dog gingerbread, you’ll have to tweak the traditional gingerbread recipe quite a bit.
First, leave out the vanilla extract or, instead, use an alcohol-free alternative. You’ll also need to omit the spices except for cinnamon and ginger and replace sugar with only about a tablespoon of molasses and chunky peanut butter. Make sure your peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol. Finally, don’t add salt or icing.
Canine chef Kiki Kane shared a dog-friendly gingerbread treat recipe that’s perfect for holidays. These pet-safe cookies should only be given as an occasional treat. Remember: moderation is key!
No, gingerbread is never healthy for dogs. The same is said for dog-friendly gingerbread treats. Ginger is healthy in moderation, but only if fed in conjunction with other healthy treats or snacks. Ginger soothes vomiting and nausea and is often recommended for gastric torsion relief by vets.
As much as we enjoy eating gingerbread cookies, they shouldn’t be fed to dogs. Gingerbread, while not toxic, contains a lot of sugar and fat, both of which aren’t healthy for dogs.
Certain ingredients, like nutmeg, star anise, and butter, may also pose gastrointestinal issues for dogs. It’s best to avoid it as much as possible!