Basil is a herb that humans use in their food on a daily basis, so it is very important for dog owners to know whether feeding it to their pet is good or bad.
Luckily for all of us, giving basil to our furry friends is not a problem at all!
Even though there is a general consensus that herbs and spices are toxic to pets, basil is listed by the ASPCA as a non-toxic herb for dogs.
In fact, this herb is full of antioxidants, which have an excellent impact on a dog’s overall health, and there are even medicinal uses.
Among the many health benefits, which we will discuss later on, a dash of basil, from time to time, can help your dog’s immune system by fighting cellular damage and keeping away illnesses like cancer.
Before you decide to dump a can of basil in your dog’s next meal, thinking it will make your loved one live forever, there is still a thing or two to learn about this herb, so let’s dive right into it.
What is the difference between herbs and spices?
Since some plants can be used as both herbs and spices, there can be a bit of confusion between the two. So let’s see what distinguishes one from the other.
The main difference, and arguably the only one, is in how the plant is consumed.
Herbs are consumed as fresh plants and spices as dried plants.
Basil, for example, can be found in both forms. You can get fresh basil from the market, or you can buy already dried basil sold as a spice.
This makes basil an excellent addition to any kitchen.
How does basil affect dogs?
There is no doubt that basil is a powerful plant, and it comes as no surprise that most humans love it in their food, but what effect does it have on your doggy?
You will be pleased to know that this plant is recommended in a dog’s diet but in moderation, of course.
Basil has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antiviral benefits in whichever form your dog snacks on it.
Whether it is dried or fresh, it has numerous health benefits, and we will go over the most important ones:
1. It helps prevent cellular damage – as an antioxidant, basil can destroy free radicals that damage cells. Also, it prevents cell damage and is even capable of healing cellular damage. This aspect of basil alone can help prevent many of the health problems affecting dogs today.2.
2. Cancer-fighting benefits – the antioxidants in this plant can help in keeping away chronic diseases like cancer. Studies show that it has proven anti-cancer benefits.
3. Anti-inflammation benefits – in contrast to common prescription painkillers, which don’t tackle the root of the problem, basil’s anti-inflammatory properties can protect dogs from diseases like arthritis. The beta-caryophyllene found in basil can reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
4. Calming benefits – anxiety in dogs can be a real problem, and this is where basil can come in handy. Basil is known to have a calming effect and is better at providing it to dogs than most prescription medicines for anxiety. Basil can decrease levels of stress hormones known to cause anxiety in dogs. Not only is the effect better, but using a herb instead of drugs is much safer. This is why most of the certified calming dog supplements have basil in them.
5. Age-related benefits – As dogs get older, they are much more susceptible to health issues like senility or heart problems. Small quantities of basil leaves in their diets can prevent such problems. Also, because of the anti-inflammatory benefits, this herb can get rid of arthritis, cellular damage, and chronic diseases, which are all known suspects of accelerated aging in dogs.
6. Excellent source of vitamins and minerals – vitamins a, c, and b complex, as well as calcium, iron, and potassium, can all be found in this incredible herb.
7. Excellent essential oils – fresh basil smells terrific, and your pooch will too if you introduce small doses of basil in its food from time to time.
Apart from all of these benefits, basil has anti-fungal and even insect-repelling characteristics, which all dog owners will love.
What are the negative effects of basil on a dog’s health?
As you might have guessed by now, adding basil to a dog’s diet can be a significant upgrade to their overall health, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you introduce this herb to their diet.
Dogs are carnivorous animals, and their digestive system is not designed for a plant-based diet. This means that basil should be given only as a supplement to healthy dog food.
Let’s dive into possible side effects of basil:
1. Allergy effects
First of all, you have to be aware of your dog’s allergies. Some dogs can be allergic to basil or fresh herbs in general, and you have to be cautious when giving basil to your dog for the first time.
Whether you are certain that your dog doesn’t have allergies or you are unsure, it is recommended that you start with a small amount of basil and see how your dog reacts.
Possible symptoms of allergies can be :
• Hives or skin rashes
• Itchy ears
If you notice any of these symptoms with your pooch you should immediately report it to your vet. In worst cases, it can lead to breathing problems that can be lethal.
2. Digestive problems
As we mentioned above, dogs are carnivorous animals, and you should keep in mind that giving your dog large quantities of this herb can lead to diarrhea, upset stomach, and vomiting.
3. Skin problems
Remember that moderation is key! If you give your dog large amounts of basil, it may lead to potential skin problems like itchiness.
How should I serve basil to my dog?
While basil can have numerous benefits for your dog, it may also lead to some negative effects, as we’ve seen above.
To minimize this, you should follow some rules on how much basil you can give to your pup and how it is best served.
• As part of the ingredients for his typical food
It is recommended that you avoid giving just basil to your pup without any other healthy food. Basil should always be a part of a standard dog-friendly dish or a part of a dog treat.
• Only in tiny amounts
This herb is powerful and can have serious side effects for your dog if given in large quantities. Always try to sprinkle just a little bit over a dog treat or put it inside the main dish.
• Make sure your dog is not allergic
As we’ve stated before, allergies can be a serious problem, and you should avoid giving basil to your dog if he has any of the symptoms.
Photo from @lorentix1
Tip for serving
Have you ever heard of pesto? Those of you who have tried it know that it is delicious, and your dog might love it too.
You can make homemade pesto for your pet to avoid the harmful ingredients that the ones in the store may have.
The only ingredients you need are basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. All of these ingredients are perfectly safe for your dog in small quantities.
Note that when you mix basil with all of these ingredients like cheese and salt, it may lose some of its healthy potentials, so it should be given like this only occasionally.
What plants are toxic to dogs?
Although basil is not toxic to dogs, most of the other herbs are. In case you need some guidance on what herbs you should avoid giving to your dog, take a look at this list:
1. Tomato – tomato isn’t exactly a herb, but it is toxic for dogs nonetheless and can be found in most households. Also, tomatoes are a common addition in all sorts of human foods, so next time you want to share your food with your pup, be sure that it doesn’t contain them. Dogs can suffer problems like general weakness, drowsiness, gastrointestinal problems, heart problems, and other severe issues if they are allowed to munch on tomato plants.
2. Ivy – as its name may suggest, poison ivy should be kept out of your pups reach at all times. Apart from excessive drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting, this plant can cause severe abdominal pain in dogs.
3. Aloe vera – another herb that is usually found in most households but can be a real trouble maker for dogs. Its benefits to humans are uncountable, but it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, lethargy, and depression in dogs.
4. Garlic – your canine bestie should also not be allowed to get its paws on garlic or any other herb that belongs in the garlic family (onions, leeks, chives). These plants are quite harmful to both cats and dogs. Consuming some of these herbs can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, rapid breathing, and an elevated heart rate in dogs.
5. Comfrey – you should also avoid giving dogs comfrey as this herb contains alkaloids that may cause cancer. Even though dried comfrey is somewhat safer (contains fewer alkaloids than fresh herbs), it can still cause severe digestive problems when consumed in large quantities.
6. Amaryllis – if you have this plant in your garden, you should consider removing it. Dogs are known to munch on this plant even though it is very poisonous to them.
7. Cocoa – when we say cocoa, we mean cocoa powder, and even though it is not a spice, it is often found in the kitchen. Dogs should never be allowed to ingest cocoa powder as it is very harmful to their nervous system. It can also cause kidney and heart problems in your pooch.
8. Black pepper – black pepper is not poisonous to dogs, but it does contain piperine, which increases the absorption of prescription medicines. This, in turn, may cause a great risk of overdose for your dog.
What herbs and spices are safe and healthy for dogs?
Let’s take a look at some of the best additions to your dog’s diet:
1. Oregano – this herb is amazing for dogs. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Apart from that, it helps in boosting your dog’s immune system with antioxidants and alleviates indigestion and diarrhea.
2. Peppermint – peppermint is a great choice if your dog has stomach issues. This plant will relieve intestinal gas, soothe an upset stomach, alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and treat diarrhea.
3. Coriander – coriander can also help with stomach problems as it has anti-diarrheal and anti-parasitic properties. It also eases nausea and alleviates intestinal gas.
4. Cinnamon – cinnamon should be added to your pet’s diet as it can bring many positive effects to its overall health. Apart from anti-inflammatory properties, it regulates blood sugar, fights against heart disease, and most importantly, can help fight against cancer.
5. Turmeric – this plant is known to relieve arthritis and the pain caused by it. Also, it improves gut health, boosts brain function, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Thyme – thyme can be very beneficial for a dog’s health. This plant creates a more healthy digestive tract and is known to also help with irritable bowels. In addition, thyme also prevents parasites such as hookworm from staying inside your dog’s body. It is recommended not to give more than a teaspoon of thyme per pound of food.
7. Rosemary – rosemary is perfectly safe and healthy to use in your pup’s diet. This plant is high in calcium and iron and has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. The recommended dose is no more than 5 grams per serving.
8. Parsley – this herb is an excellent addition to your dog’s dinner, as it is known to contain high quantities of fiber. Apart from aiding their digestive health, parsley is a great breath freshener for any pup!
Let’s break down what we have learned
Basil is perfectly safe to use in dog food and can be a very powerful supplement to your dog’s diet if used right.
First, you always need to be aware of your dog’s allergies and overall health.
Second, remember that every supplement you introduce to your pet’s diet must be added in small quantities.
Large quantities of basil or any herb for that matter can lead to serious problems in your dog’s health.
And last but not least, never force your dog to eat something they do not want or like. They are sensitive and have personalities of their own, so if you like something, it doesn’t mean that your dog has to like it too.