From a dog’s perspective, few things look more enticing than a cinnamon stick. It looks like the twigs that you find in the backyard, but it has an extra aroma and flavor that makes it even more exciting!
From a pet parent’s perspective, though, the idea of your dog chewing on cinnamon can cause alarm.
Whether found in its pure, stick-like form or inside baked goods, cinnamon poses a quandary to pet parents. You have to wonder whether you should let your dog enjoy it or you should take the newly discovered treat away ASAP.
The time has come to answer a basic question. Can dogs eat cinnamon, or will it make them sick?
Cinnamon Isn’t Toxic to Dogs, But Use Caution
According to the ASPCA, cinnamon isn’t toxic to dogs.
If you find your dog chewing on a stick of cinnamon, you don’t need to freak out. Most dogs can eat small amounts of cinnamon without any negative effects.
That doesn’t mean that you should encourage your dog to eat cinnamon and products that contain cinnamon, though. Too much of anything can cause problems.
Think about it this way. Licorice isn’t toxic to humans. Some people even believe that taking licorice extract has health benefits. Does that mean that you should eat huge amounts of licorice daily? Absolutely not! Some studies even show that eating too much licorice too often can lead to toxicity.
The same may be true of dogs when it comes to spices like cinnamon. A little bit of cinnamon does no harm. You should take a cautious approach, though. It’s probably not a good idea to give your puppy a whole cinnamon stick to chew on.
At the very least, they could end up with an upset tummy that leads to a big mess.
How Much Cinnamon Is Too Much Cinnamon?
How much cinnamon can your dog eat before a problem develops? That depends on the dog.
The average dog can enjoy a cinnamon-flavored treat without any difficulty. You can even find cinnamon in some baked goods made just for dogs.
Deciding how much is safe depends on two crucial factors: your dog’s size and tolerance for cinnamon.
Consider the Size of Your Dog
Think about the enormous diversity between dog breeds. A Yorkshire Terrier weighs about seven pounds. A Saint Bernard can easily weigh 130 pounds.
A Saint Bernard that chows down on an ounce of cinnamon might get a little gassy, but it should stay healthy after the questionable meal.
Imagine the effect of that much cinnamon on a Yorkshire Terrier, though! If nothing else, its little belly would get distended.
But you know what dogs are like. Some of them won’t let a little intestinal distress get in the way of an interesting treat. It’s up to you to make an informed decision about how much cinnamon your dog can consume. If the amount seems unreasonable, it is!
Does Your Dog Have a Cinnamon Allergy?
Just like humans, dogs can have allergies to different types of foods and spices. The American Kennel Club says that some of the most common allergic reactions come from:
Cinnamon isn’t on that list, but that doesn’t mean your dog can’t have a cinnamon allergy.
If your dog has never eaten cinnamon before, start with a small amount and look for the symptoms of an allergic reaction. If your dog has a cinnamon allergy, you might notice:
- Gastrointestinal distress in the form of vomiting or diarrhea.
- Red, inflamed skin.
- Swelling in the animal’s lips, eyes, ears, or face.
- Signs of itchiness, such as constant scratching or licking.
Dr. Tara McCoy at the St. Matthews Animal Clinic says that she’s never seen a cinnamon allergy in dogs, but she wouldn’t be surprised to find one. “Dogs can have the same food sensitivities as humans,” she says.
She follows up with a warning. “Even if your dog doesn’t have an allergy now, it can develop one over time. Allergies can come and go over a lifetime. They’re hard to predict.”
Don’t assume that your dog can tolerate cinnamon and treats containing the spice. Always pay attention to what your dog eats so you can connect allergic reactions to specific foods.
Don’t Confuse Cinnamon With Nutmeg!
Human treats, like scones and other pastries, often contain a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg. Powdered, the two spices look similar.
Never make the mistake of confusing cinnamon with nutmeg, though!
Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin that can cause problems like disorientation, high blood pressure, hallucinations, and stomach pain. In large quantities, nutmeg can even cause seizures.
Even if you’re willing to let your puppy pal enjoy a cinnamon treat, make sure the food does not contain nutmeg. Small amounts probably won’t cause serious problems. Doctors do know that the spice contains a toxin, though, so don’t take any chances.
As a rule, say “No to nutmeg!”
Can Dogs Benefit From Eating Cinnamon?
Although researchers don’t have much scientific evidence, plenty of people believe that cinnamon has medicinal properties. In humans, they claim the spice:
- Has anti-inflammatory properties that can combat pain.
- Contains antioxidants that can help prevent cognitive deficits during old age.
- Can lower cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
- Helps increase insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Fights bacterial and fungal infections.
- Reduces the growth of cancer cells.
Scientists have performed some studies on lab animals and humans. So far, no one has used a controlled study to determine whether cinnamon has health benefits for dogs.
More likely than not, you can give your dog a cinnamon supplement without causing any damage. Just make sure you follow a few rules:
- Keep a close eye on your dog for signs of allergic reactions.
- Don’t give your dog cinnamon in baked goods that contain sugar or nutmeg.
- Stick to small amounts of the spice until you know how your dog reacts to it.
Cinnamon could hurt your dog. Then again, so could the soy and corn that most dog foods contain. Before you give your dog any food or supplements that contain cinnamon, talk to your vet about the possible side effects.
Most vets will tell you that cinnamon causes neither harm nor good, as long as you don’t give your dog large quantities of it.
If you want to let your dog snack on cinnamon, try putting it in a sugar-free baked good. Or buy doggie treats that contain small amounts of the spice.
Do not, however, start using cinnamon sticks as chew treats. The bark could cause any number of unknown problems, from scratching your dog’s gums to giving your pooch a stomach ache. When in doubt, use caution.
If your dog does get sick after ingesting cinnamon, you can keep your veterinary bills affordable with pet insurance. Visit Pet Insurance Quotes today to get the best deal on a policy that matches your needs and budget.