Do you and the kids love building gingerbread houses for Christmas? Or do you enjoy eating this festive treat as a delicious dessert throughout the year? The question you may have is – can you share some of the gingerbread with your pup?
The short answer to the question “can dogs eat gingerbread” is – no.
A tiny bit of gingerbread will hardly harm your furry friend, but large amounts eaten regularly can cause adverse reactions and, in some cases, can be dangerous for your pet.
While ginger is not a toxic ingredient for canines, the other ingredients used to make gingerbread men and cake can be poisonous for Fido. Gingerbread is high in sugar and fat and has a lot of calories and little nutrient value for dogs.
Plus, nutmeg, cloves, and other spices used for making this holiday dessert can be toxic for them.
Read on to find out why you should keep the gingerbread goods away from your four-legged companion and what to do if your furbaby has eaten some of the gingerbread you have set up as a decoration or left on the table.
Is it Safe to Give Gingerbread to my Dog?
Overall, it is not safe, so avoiding giving your furry companion even small parts of a gingerbread man is better.
Even a tiny bit can lead to digestive problems, especially in more sensitive or smaller dogs.
And just like with all seasonal cookies and cakes made for people, gingerbread is definitely not a healthy treat for canines.
One of the main reasons to keep these cookies and desserts away from your pup is the nutmeg they contain. Nutmeg can be highly toxic for dogs, as it contains myristicin that can cause mild to severe adverse effects and poisoning.
Some of the symptoms of severe myristicin toxicity in pups include abdominal pain, hallucinations, disorientation, increased blood pressure and a racing heart rate, a dry mouth, and seizures.
This toxicity can occur if a dog eats a lot of nutmegs. But smaller-sized pups can be affected by much smaller quantities of the chemical.
Another potentially dangerous ingredient that is often used for making Christmas gingerbread cookies is cinnamon, which can have a negative effect similar to that of nutmeg or black pepper.
Star anise, too, is poisonous for canines when ingested in large amounts. It can make your pup hyperactive, resulting in serious accidents, injuries, and other unwanted behaviors.
Gingerbread men, cake, and other gingerbread goodies are usually loaded with sugar and fats. These can disrupt your dog’s digestive system and can lead to blood sugar spikes, diabetes, and obesity when eaten in large quantities and regularly.
If your gingerbread is sugar-free, it can be even more dangerous for your furry companion. The popular artificial sweetener Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can lead to death. The sweetener is even more harmful and hazardous for canines than chocolate is.
Does Gingerbread have Health Benefits for Dogs?
No. Gingerbread has little nutritional value for canines and can harm them more than benefit them.
The ginger itself can be beneficial for dogs, as it is known to help alleviate nausea and vomiting. But if you want to give your pup some ginger, use a small pinch of minced raw ginger and mix it into its food instead.
Keep in mind that even healthy ginger is not suitable for all dogs. This is because it has a blood thinning effect that can harm pups with blood clotting issues, those about to undergo surgery, and pregnant or nursing dogs.
Before adding new human foods to your pup’s diet, always talk to your veterinarian first.
There are some recipes for dog-friendly gingerbread that you can use to prepare your own safe versions as treats for your pet. They usually include gluten-free flour, molasses, honey or applesauce, and coconut oil instead of the unhealthier white sugar, nutmeg, white flour, and butter.
My Dog Ate Gingerbread – What Should I Do?
No matter how careful you may be, many pups are inventive and find ways to get to the treats which are hidden away from them. If your furry friend has gotten hold of a few cookies, then you shouldn’t worry too much unless it has an underlying health issue or is a toy or small-sized dog.
If your pet has eaten a whole gingerbread house or a lot of gingerbread men, then you should call your vet. Check the ingredients for any nutmeg, cocoa, or Xylitol. Tell the veterinarian how many cookies it has eaten and how much your dog weighs. You will be given instructions on the next steps to take.
Remember that a larger dog can eat more gingerbread without any adverse effects than a toy or small-sized dog, which can be poisoned much easier by much smaller quantities of the same toxin.
Some of the symptoms of Xylitol or nutmeg poisoning in dogs to watch for include:
- Abdominal discomfort and pain
- An increased heart rate and high blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Other unusual sudden behavioral changes
If any of these symptoms are present after your furry friend has gobbled up some gingerbread, then you should take it to the vet immediately for a checkup and for timely treatment if needed.
While a single bite of gingerbread will hardly harm your pup, it is best to keep any gingerbread decorations and desserts away from it. This will ensure you have a happy holiday instead of worrying and spending time and money at the veterinary clinic on Christmas instead of celebrating.
Gingerbread often contains nutmeg and can sometimes contain Xylitol or other ingredients which are toxic for canines, especially when ingested in large quantities.
If you really want to treat your pet to some festive cookies and desserts, you can prepare your own homemade dog-safe gingerbread or other treats instead.