Dr Tracy Douglas
Your guide to this article today is by veterinarian Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 15:01 pm

Gingerbread cookies are a delicious family treat. The smell of freshly baked cookies brings back warm fuzzy holiday feelings for many, however gingerbread is not safe for your furry friend! Unfortunately, dogs cannot eat gingerbread, and this is due to a number of factors. Let’s look at why they are harmful to dogs, what to do if they mistakenly consume gingerbread, and healthy alternatives that make for a delightful and safer doggy treat.

Dog eating gingerbread

Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread Cookies?

The short answer is NO. While ginger itself might not be harmful to your pup, there are numerous other ingredients in gingerbread cookies that can be harmful to pups. These include:

  • Nutmeg

One of these harmful ingredients is nutmeg. There is a dangerous compound in this spice known as Myristicin and this is toxic to animals. A small dose might not cause alarm, but if they consume too much, they can face a number of horrible symptoms including hallucinations, disorientation, increased blood pressure, and at worst case seizures. Thus, it is safer to avoid nutmeg completely and since this is often a key ingredient in gingerbread cookies they should be avoided completely. If you think your dog has consumed nutmeg by mistake you should keep an eye on them and take them to the vet at the first sign of a reaction.

  • Sugar

Gingerbread cookies also contain lots of sugar and this is not healthy for dogs. Feeding your pup too many sugary treats can lead to an array of other health problems including obesity, diabetes, tooth problems, or high blood pressure. Sugary treats are thus not suitable for your dog and will only lead to problems in the long run.

NB: The sugar substitute Xylitol is particularly dangerous for dogs and thus they should never eat sugar substitutes! If you think your dog has consumed xylitol it is imperative that you get them to your vet immediately.

  • Anise

Some gingerbread cookies might contain a spice called anise. This has been documented to make dogs hyper and is thus also not great for them. Avoid gingerbread cookies with these spices and opt for treats that are totally beneficial to your pups wellbeing.

What to Do If Your Pup Eats a Gingerbread Biscuit by Mistake?

If your pup mistakenly gets into the gingerbread jar you will want to keep an eye on them. You should check for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or disorientation. While one gingerbread cookie might not cause serious harm, you will want to monitor them to check that they are okay. If you notice any strange symptoms you will want to get them to the vet immediately. They can monitor your pup and can give them the appropriate medication if needed.

As a rule of thumb, you will want to keep all human snacks and treats safely out the reach of your curious pup. Keep biscuits in air-tight containers that cannot easily be opened and keep them in cupboards and on counters far from the reaches of your pup. Leaving biscuits on tables and counters without packing them away is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your curious pup.

What About Ginger Treats for Dogs?

While dogs cannot eat gingerbread cookies (due to the sugar, fat, nutmeg, and anise), they can eat small amounts of fresh ginger. Fresh ginger is filled with antioxidants and these are able to slow down the oxidization process of cells and ward against certain disorders such as heart disease and cancer. You can give your pup a little fresh ginger with their food every now and then (if they enjoy it) as it has been said to help with ailments such as nausea and arthritis. If you are unsure of how much ginger to feed your pup, be sure to check in with your vet and get their expert opinion. Adding pup-safe fresh veggies and spices to your dog’s diet can enhance their wellbeing and strengthen their immunity.

Healthy Cookie Option for Your Pup

While your pup can’t eat gingerbread cookies, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make them healthy and puppy-friendly dog biscuits. Homemade biscuits are a brilliant idea because you’ll know exactly what ingredients are going into them. By making them yourself you can ensure that they aren’t filled with artificial colorants, preservatives, or chemicals and this will make for a super healthy doggy treat. Our favorite recipes include:

Mix one third of a cup of peanut butter (make sure it contains NO XYILOTOL as this is dangerous for dogs), 1 cup of pumpkin puree, 1 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 eggs. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and roll out the dough. Cut into desired shapes and bake for between 20 and 40 minutes. Once cooled place them in an air-tight container and feed to your pup in moderation.

  • Carrot, zucchini, and spinach doggy treats

This is a super healthy treat that is jampacked with essential vitamins and minerals. Simply mix a quarter of a cup of peanut butter (xylitol free), 1 cup of pumpkin puree, 1 grated carrot, 1 grated zucchini, a cup of copped baby spinach, 3 cups of flower and 2 large eggs. Roll your dough with a pin and cut into the desired shape. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the biscuits for roughly 25 minutes. Let them cool and then place them in an airtight container. Feed them to your pooch in moderation.

Thus, gingerbread cookies are NOT safe for your pup! The sugar and nutmeg can cause harm and should be avoided at all costs. Opt for healthy and safe treats that enhance their health and wellbeing and are jam packed with amazing nutrients and vitamins.

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Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.


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