Can Dogs Eat Basil? Nutrition Facts & Safety Guide
Basil is one of the world’s most recognizable culinary herbs, made famous by dishes like the green, hearty, and creamy pesto of Italy. But is this globally available herb a good choice to feed your dog? Or is it dangerous to their health?
Yes! Dogs Can Eat Basil
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), basil is non-toxic to dogs (and cats, as well). This includes all plants under the scientific name Ocimum basilicum, such as sweet basil, Thai basil, and Saint Joseph’s wort.
Basil Nutrition and Fun Facts
According to Healthline, basil has the following nutritional qualities:
- Low in calories
- Small amounts of Vitamins A and K
- Small amounts of calcium, iron, and manganese
- High in antioxidants
- Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Basil is almost exclusively used as a seasoning and herbal remedy rather than a primary food source. All varieties of basil have a reputation for easing nausea, and have been used in traditional Eastern medicine (such as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda) for centuries.
Found in more than 60 unique varieties, basil is used in cuisines around the world for its pungent flavor and signature aromatics. It is seen growing annually in colder climates, while warm and tropical climates can grow it year-round.
Health Benefits of Basil for Dogs
There is limited information available for any dedicated studies made of the health benefits of basil for dogs. However, the following benefits have been shown in studies performed on mice and may be applicable to dogs as well:
- Helps with memory loss
- Reduces depression as it relates to chronic stress
- Counters stroke damage
- Supports healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides
- Relaxes blood vessels and thins the blood
- Prevents the development of ulcers
- Prevents the development of some cancers
- Inhibits bacteria growth responsible for tooth decay
An impressive list of benefits, indeed! And with no risk of toxicity to dogs, it seems that basil could make an excellent supplement to support your dog’s health and wellness.
Can Basil Be Bad for Dogs?
Though fresh or dried basil poses no risk to your dog, if given in moderation, basil extracts can cause complications when overused. Because basil extracts — such as those found in basil supplements and concentrates — can thin the blood, they have the potential to cause problems in dogs with pre-existing conditions.
Additionally, a very small portion of dogs have developed allergic reactions to basil. This is uncommon side effect can present as gastrointestinal distress, itching, hives, or difficulty breathing.
How to Feed Basil to Your Dogs
Both fresh and dried basil can add variety to your dog’s meals. If you’re introducing basil to your dog for the first time, start with very small amounts. It’s a pungent herb that not every dog enjoys.
To feed basil to your dog, simply chop up fresh basil or sprinkle dried basil as a seasoning over their wet or dry food. Be sure to monitor their reactions, including whether their bathroom habits change after eating it.
How Much Basil Should I Feed My Dog?
Because it contains so little of any essential nutrients, basil should be considered a supplement and never a major food source.
After slowly introducing it into your dog’s diet and watching for any signs of indigestion or other negative reactions, sprinkle a small amount of basil onto your dog’s meals on infrequently. This small portion is enough to confer basil’s antioxidant benefits to your dog.
Types of Basil to Feed Your Dog
With a plethora of varieties to choose from, you can feed all sorts of different flavors of basil to your dog. Some of the most common varieties include:
- Sweet basil
- Greek basil
- Thai basil
- Cinnamon basil
- Lettuce basil
- Holy basil
With no known toxicities from any variety of cultivated basil, all types are fair game to feed to your dog.
Final Thoughts on Feeding Basil to Your Dog
Because it is both non-toxic and contains little in the way of essential nutrients, feeding basil to your dog is a matter of their personal preference. If your dog enjoys the smell and taste of this pungent herb, then its proven antioxidant benefits will surely contribute to your dog’s health and happiness. Try it out and see whether your pup enjoys this world-famous culinary herb!
Featured Image: Konstantin Kolosov from Pixabay