As a practicing veterinarian with over two decades of experience, I’ve encountered countless pet owners who have brought their dogs into my clinic with a myriad of questions. “Can my dog eat chocolate?”, “Are onions bad for my pooch?”, “What about cinnamon?” – are among the many inquiries I get.
These questions remind me of a case a few years ago when an owner of a Beagle puppy named Oreo panicked and rushed into my clinic. Oreo had managed to sneak into a bag of cinnamon rolls.
The owner was understandably worried, and it was then I realized how little is known about the effects of certain spices, such as cinnamon or milk thistle, on our canine friends. This inspired me to create this comprehensive guide on dogs and cinnamon.
Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum trees. It’s commonly used in cooking and baking, adding a distinct sweet and spicy flavor that many of us enjoy.
Besides its use in the kitchen, it is also known for its health benefits in humans, including its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
There are mainly two types of cinnamon used in food – Ceylon, also known as “true cinnamon,” and Cassia, often referred to as “common cinnamon.” While both types share similar flavor profiles, they differ significantly in their coumarin content, a natural plant compound that can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
The Ceylon variation contains minimal amounts of coumarin, while the Cassia variation has higher levels. When it comes to dogs, this distinction is vital because coumarin can pose potential health risks, as we will discuss later in this post.
Can Dogs Eat It?
As a pet owner, it’s crucial to know what your four-legged friend can and cannot eat. In the case of cinnamon, the answer is yes – dogs can eat it, but there are important caveats and limitations to keep in mind.
Cinnamon in Small Quantities
Small amounts of cinnamon, especially the Ceylon variation, are generally safe for dogs. For instance, a sprinkle of it in your dog’s food can give it a flavorful boost and may provide some health benefits.
However, the keyword here is small amounts. Overfeeding can lead to various health issues due to the high content of coumarin found in the Cassia variation of cinnamon.
Overdosing your dog with cinnamon can lead to a condition known as coumarin poisoning. Symptoms include liver damage, low blood sugar, and in severe cases, can cause coagulation issues leading to internal bleeding. Therefore, it is essential to strictly control the intake.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon for Dogs
Interestingly, cinnamon, when given in moderation, has some potential health benefits for dogs. However, it should be noted that these benefits are mostly from anecdotal evidence and limited research.
Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties
Cinnamon is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties can help to soothe internal inflammation and combat oxidative stress, thus boosting your dog’s overall health.
It is also suggested that cinnamon might help dogs with arthritis, but further research is needed to confirm this claim.
Potential Diabetes Control
Some studies suggest that cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for dogs with diabetes. It helps to improve insulin sensitivity and slows down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream.
Again, these studies are limited and further research is needed to confirm these potential benefits.
Risks and Side Effects
Despite potential health benefits, cinnamon also poses certain risks and side effects in dogs, particularly if ingested in large quantities.
Allergic Reactions and Irritation
Like humans, dogs can also be allergic to cinnamon. Some may experience allergic reactions such as skin irritation, inflammation, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Also, it can cause irritations in your canine friend’s mouth or stomach due to its spicy nature.
As mentioned earlier, consuming too much cinnamon can lead to coumarin poisoning in dogs. Additionally, the oils from it can be extremely potent and toxic to dogs.
If ingested, these can lead to rapid heart rate, liver disease, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in blood sugar levels.
How to Safely Feed It to Your Dogs
Considering the risks, if you still want to add cinnamon to your dog’s diet, it’s crucial to do it safely. Here are some guidelines.
The Right Quantity
As a general rule of thumb, an occasional sprinkle on your dog’s food is typically safe. But what does a “sprinkle” mean? For a medium-sized breed, that’s less than 1/8th of a teaspoon.
Smaller canines should get even less. Always remember, when it comes to cinnamon, less is more.
- Keep a close eye on your dog’s reaction to the new food additive.
- Never exceed the recommended dosage without consulting your vet.
- Monitor your canine friend for any potential allergic reactions.
Choose the Right Type
Always opt for the Ceylon variation over the Cassia one. While both types can potentially be harmful in large quantities, Ceylon has significantly less coumarin and is safer for dogs.
When to Consult Your Veterinarian
If you’re considering adding cinnamon to your dog’s diet, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian first. If your four-legged friend has accidentally consumed a large quantity of it, seek immediate veterinary attention.
If your dog accidentally ingests a large quantity of cinnamon, especially Cassia type or cinnamon oil, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention. Look out for signs of coumarin poisoning, such as rapid heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in blood sugar levels.
Is cinnamon toxic to dogs?
No, it is not toxic. However, its essential oil can be toxic. Consuming too much cinnamon can cause skin and digestive irritation.
What happens if a dog consumes too much cinnamon?
If a dog consumes too much of it, it can cause irritation in his mouth, and inhaling the powder can cause him to cough, choke, and have difficulty breathing. A large overdose can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate, low blood sugar, and liver disease.
What should I do if my dog eats a large amount of cinnamon?
If your dog eats a large amount, you should call your veterinarian. While cinnamon is not fatal, the side effects can be uncomfortable, and your veterinarian may have additional concerns and suggestions to help your canine friend recover.
Can dogs eat cinnamon-baked goods?
A small amount, like the amount used in most baked goods, is not going to hurt your four-legged friend. However, feeding them baked goods is not necessarily a good idea as they are high in fat, sugar, and unnecessary calories, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and complications such as pancreatitis.
Are there any other ingredients in baked goods that could be harmful to my dog?
Yes, some baked goods may contain xylitol as a sweetener, which is very toxic to your canine friends. Also, other ingredients like chocolate or raisins could be toxic or harmful as well.
What about nutmeg, is it safe for dogs?
Nutmeg, another common baking spice often used with cinnamon in recipes, can have toxic effects on them. It contains the toxin myristicin, which can cause hallucinations, increased heart rate, disorientation, high blood pressure, abdominal pain, dry mouth, and even seizures.
Should I add cinnamon to my dog’s diet?
While they can eat it in small quantities, it is not necessary or recommended to add it to their diet without consulting with a veterinarian.
While cinnamon is generally safe for dogs in small amounts, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects. Always consult with your vet before making any significant changes to your pet’s diet.
After all, as every pet owner knows, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!