Can dogs eat ginger?

Health and Wellbeing

There are few spices as healthy and heartwarming as ginger. From stir-fries to biscuits, we humans use it to pack flavour and warmth to our food. We can’t often share spices and seasonings with our pets, but can dogs eat ginger? Given the many health benefits of this paw-some root, is it worth using it in doggy dinners and treats?

Can dogs eat ginger?

CAN DOGS EAT GINGER?

Yes, dogs can eat ginger in small amounts. It’s non-toxic and considered paw-fectly safe for them to eat whether it’s from the root, dried ginger, or even ginger juice.

Some dogs can have allergic reactions to ginger if it comes into contact with their skin though. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include increased itching, red and inflamed skin, and sometimes a rash.

CAN DOGS EAT RAW GINGER?

Yes, dogs can eat raw ginger root and it might be the best form for them because it is the most whole and natural way of feeding ginger. Just remember to cut the tough skin off first and finely chop or mince the flesh of the ginger root before feeding it to your dog.

CAN DOGS EAT PICKLED GINGER?

Although not toxic to your dog, you probably shouldn’t offer them pickled ginger.

For starters, most dogs do not like the taste of vinegar or citric acid that’s used to pickle foods. Many brands of pickled ginger contain salt too, and you need to keep a close eye on the amount of salt in your pup’s diet.

Some brands of pickled ginger do use sweeteners as well, so you’ll need to be careful that there is no Xylitol in them, which is a common sweetener that is toxic to dogs. So although you might not eat the pickled ginger that comes with your sushi, you shouldn’t feed it to Fido either.

A little piece of pickled ginger probably won’t harm your dog, but it won’t be as good for them as raw ginger root or even dried ginger, which doesn’t have any of the additional ingredients.

CAN DOGS EAT GINGER BISCUITS?

Your dog probably shouldn’t eat a ginger biscuit, but it shouldn’t cause any immediate harm if they happen to snaffle one. The ingredients and nutritional value vary between brands, but generally, a ginger biscuit doesn’t contain anything toxic to dogs. So if your pooch pilfers a ginger nut, they should be okay.

A tiny piece of ginger biscuit, provided there is no nutmeg in the recipe, might be okay for your dog on a very rare occasion. Without nutmeg, it is typically non-toxic and “safe” should they eat some. But even though it isn’t toxic, it’s not a treat you should regularly feed your pooch and they shouldn’t eat a whole biscuit to themselves

The problem is that biscuits have a lot of sugar and fat in them, like most sweet treats. And although we might think of them as sweets, there’s still some salt in ginger biscuits.

Looking at a few different brands, the salt content ranged between 0.09g to 0.1g of salt per biscuit. Ideally, a medium-sized dog of about 15kg should only eat about 0.1-0.2g of salt per day, which would mean one biscuit takes up most of their daily allowance before they’ve even had dinner! Even in their dog food, it’s advised that there’s never more than 3% salt, which would be 3g per 100g of food.

If your pup seems to like the taste of ginger, or you fancy making some dog treats with the benefits of the paws-itively powerful herb, you could try making your own dog-safe ginger biscuits.

CAN DOGS EAT GINGERBREAD?

No, your dog shouldn’t eat gingerbread. Gingerbread is one of those foods you should avoid feeding your dog on a basis of “better safe than sorry”. This is because gingerbread contains nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs. There’s also a lot of sugar and fat in those gingerbread creations and it’s always best to limit your dog’s consumption of those. If your dog hoovers up a few dropped crumbs they should be fine, as it takes a significant quantity of gingerbread and nutmeg to put your dog in real danger, but that does mean you should not deliberately feed your dog gingerbread.

CAN DOGS EAT GINGER CAKE?

Again, it’s not something you should be actively feeding your dog. The ingredients in shop-bought and homemade ginger cake vary, but most don’t contain anything toxic like nutmeg so are arguably “safe” should your pooch swipe a bit.

However, it’s usually packed with butter, oil, sugar, treacle, and golden syrup which makes it far too rich, sugary, and fatty for a dog to eat.

It’s meant to be a special treat for us humans, and so it’s definitely far from healthy for your furry friend. But if they lick up the crumbs or eat a tiny nibble it shouldn’t cause them any harm, so try not to worry if the furry hoover snuffles some.

IS GINGER GOOD FOR DOGS?

The biggest benefit of ginger for humans and hounds alike is its ability to settle an upset stomach, preventing nausea and supposedly aiding digestion. Anecdotal evidence for this is all around, and some studies do suggest there is some evidence that ginger can help to prevent nausea in various situations from car sickness to chemotherapy.

In terms of holistic treatment, it could benefit your pooch. A homemade dog-friendly ginger biscuit before a car trip could help to prevent motion sickness, for example.

However, there is not a lot of studies on the effects of ginger on dogs. Even in humans, the studies sometimes conflict, and the efficacy of ginger vs anti-emetic drugs (anti-nausea drugs) needs further study.

But from the research so far, it seems that ginger does have a genuine anti-emetic effect, and is certainly better than nothing. It’s best to discuss with your vet if adding some ginger into your dog’s diet will be useful. It could be worth trying, provided your pup can safely eat it.

There is some evidence that ginger can help reduce heartworm microfilaria in dogs, but that doesn’t mean you should start offering ginger to your dogs to worm them. Ginger hasn’t been found to treat heartworm disease, plus, the study cited involved injections of ginger under the dog’s skin several times rather than feeding them.

In humans, ginger has been found to have anti-cancer properties, but more research into its effectiveness is needed. Studies into the effects of ginger on dogs are very limited though, so we can’t be sure if they also benefit in this way, but there is every paws-ibility that it could help.

However, it has been found that ginger can reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea in dogs. So if your pup is undergoing cancer treatment, you could discuss with your vet if offering them some ginger root or ginger juice alongside their meals could be beneficial.

All in all, there is definitely enough evidence out there to say that eating ginger could help to prevent nausea in some dogs. However, not all dogs can safely eat ginger.

CAN ALL DOGS EAT GINGER?

No, ginger isn’t safe for every dog to eat. A healthy, adult dog can usually eat ginger without a problem, but you should be careful if your pooch has underlying health conditions.

It’s advised that dogs with blood conditions like haemophilia or even diabetes avoid eating ginger because it can affect the blood’s circulation and ability to clot. Ginger can lower blood pressure, reduce clotting, and lower blood sugar.

It’s also advised that pregnant or lactating dogs should never be fed ginger. Ginger can interfere with some medications too, so if your dog is undergoing treatment for a problem don’t offer them ginger until you know it’s safe for them to eat. Caution is also advised for dogs that are suffering from problems that affect their liver and kidneys, so it’s best to check with your vet first.

HOW MUCH GINGER CAN DOGS EAT?

Not a lot. If you’re feeding them powdered ginger, it is advised to feed them no more than ¼ of a teaspoon for tiny dogs like Chihuahuas, and no more than ¾ of a teaspoon for big breeds of dog. You should keep measurements of root ginger small too, but there’s no definitive guide on this. Paw-heps exercise a literal rule of thumb and give a piece no bigger than your thumb to a large dog.

RECAP: CAN DOGS EAT GINGER?

Yes, most healthy dogs can eat ginger root or ginger powder in very small amounts. You can use it to flavour homemade healthy dog treats or add it to their food to help prevent nausea.

As with any new food, you should check with your vet that it is safe for your individual dog before feeding them any ginger. It’s important to check ginger is safe for your pooch because it can interfere with certain health conditions and medications.

As the nutritional value of ginger for dogs is a bit vague, it's best to ensure your dog is eating a complete and balanced dog food every day. Pure is healthy, wholesome and totally natural with extra vitamins and minerals added to ensure your dog is only eating the best.

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.

Sources
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  2. Antiemetic efficacy of ginger (Zingiber officinale) against cisplatin-induced emesis in dogs Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 57, April 1997, 93–96
  3. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence International Journal of Preventative Medicine, 4, (1), April 2013, 36-42.
  4. Antifilarial effect of Zingiber officinale on Dirofilaria immitis Journal of Helminthology, 61, (3), Sept 1987, 268-270, doi: 10.1017/s0022149x00010142