Cinnamon — a classic spice most of us love to sprinkle on top of a warm breakfast food or a sweet, delicious dessert. But can our dogs partake in the fun?
The short answer: yes, dogs can eat cinnamon. No, it is not toxic.
That being said, it is not advisable to feed your dog cinnamon or allow them to eat it. In large quantities, ground cinnamon, cinnamon oil, and cinnamon sticks can cause distress to your furry friend — usually gastric, but also possibly as a skin or lung irritant.
Cinnamon Nutrition and Fun Facts
While you may think of cinnamon as the spice you use in apple pie, cinnamon is actually the larger designation of multiple tree species as well as the kitchen spice that is made from them.
There are two main trees from the genus Cinnamomum from which the spice is made. The somewhat rarer, “true cinnamon” tree known as Cinnamomum verum and the more common and cheaper Cinnamomum cassia. “True cinnamon” is native to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India. Cassia is indigenous to China.
These trees, and the spice derived from them, have been highly prized throughout history. Cinnamon was documented and used by the Ancient Egyptians as early as 2000 B.C., and also valued by the Ancient Greeks, and Romans. Cinnamon was more than just a spice; it was considered a gift fit for royalty and gods!
Health Benefits of Cinnamon for Dogs
The upside is that cinnamon is not toxic for dogs, but the downside is that it does not have any particular nutritional benefit for your furry friend either. Cinnamon has negligible amounts of iron, calcium, and potassium, but mostly it is a warm and pungent flavoring for human consumption.
And as many dog owners know, it is usually best to avoid flavorings when it comes to feeding your dog. Sure, sweet potatoes with a little cinnamon on them sound delicious to you, but when feeding whole foods to your pup it is always safest to serve them completely unseasoned.
Can Cinnamon Be Bad for Dogs?
Cinnamon is not toxic to dogs, so you will not have to worry about your pup suffering fatal effects if you find them slurping down the last of your favorite oatmeal spice.
However, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, large amounts of ground cinnamon or the oils in cinnamon (whether pure essential oils or those on cinnamon sticks) can cause skin irritation and digestive upset in both dogs and humans. If a dog chews on cinnamon sticks, eats it ground, or as an essential oil it may cause irritation in the mouth.
Sometimes when a dog eats ground cinnamon, they will inhale some of it as well. This can irritate their lungs, causing coughing and choking, or even difficulty breathing. The Pet Poison Helpline also warns that eating an exceptionally large amount of cinnamon can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and erratic heart rate.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Cinnamon
First, don’t panic. Next try to figure out how much your dog has eaten, and how long ago they snarfed it down, and whether it has gotten in their nose, lungs, etc.
Then call your veterinarian to check in about additional concerns, suggestions for how to help your pup, and to let them know if you notice any behavior changes.
Though you won’t need to rush your dog to the emergency room, if they eat more than one teaspoon or so you will likely have a pup with an upset tummy. Be sure to hang out with your dog for at least the next few hours to make sure that they can make it to the bathroom whenever the need may strike!
What About Nutmeg?
Nutmeg, a similar colored spice that is used in many of the same recipes as cinnamon, is toxic to dogs. The toxin it contains is called myristicin, and it can cause increased heart rate, disorientation, hallucinations, abdominal pain, high blood pressure, dry mouth, and seizures.
Symptoms from ingesting myristicin can last for up to 48 hours. It is nearly impossible to ingest enough nutmeg via baked goods and food to cause toxicity in dogs, but if large amounts of ground nutmeg are eaten it can be dangerous. Call your vet immediately if your dog eats ground nutmeg or seeds.
Final Thoughts on Feeding Cinnamon to Your Dog
So, should you feed your dog cinnamon? No, not really.
It is generally safe as an ingredient, so if your pup’s favorite dog treats have a little cinnamon in there no need to worry. However, ingestion of large quantities of straight cinnamon can have uncomfortable side effects, so don’t let them eat cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, or cinnamon essential oils.
And on no account should you ever let your dog try the “cinnamon challenge.” No matter how bad they want to impress Fido at the dog park.
Featured image credit: Daria-Yakovleva, Pixabay