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Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & Safety Guide

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

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Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & Safety Guide

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Gingerbread is a holiday staple many people enjoy for the flavor and nostalgia. While dogs can eat certain holiday foods safely, it’s not recommended for dogs to eat gingerbread or gingerbread cookies. Small amounts of ginger may be okay for dogs, but gingerbread often contains ingredients that are harmful or toxic to them. It’s especially risky to feed them store-bought gingerbread because it can contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

We’ll go over everything you need to know about gingerbread and how you can keep your dog safe from potentially dangerous foods, especially during the holidays.

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Why Can’t Dogs Eat Gingerbread?

Ginger potentially has health benefits when given to dogs in small quantities, though little research exists to support this statement, which predominantly is extrapolated from other species. However, gingerbread often contains other ingredients that can be harmful to dogs. Therefore, the risks often outweigh the benefits.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is an aromatic spice that’s included in many fall and winter dishes, including gingerbread. While it certainly enhances the flavor of a dish, it’s toxic to dogs. Nutmeg contains myristicin, which is a type of narcotic with hallucinatory effects. Just 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg can be a toxic dose to dogs, and higher doses can be fatal.

Dogs can show the following signs of myristicin toxicity:
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Incoordination
  • High body temperature

Sugar

Sugar isn’t necessarily toxic to dogs, but it’s not healthy for them either. Consuming too much sugar in one sitting can cause an upset stomach. Dogs that eat too much sugar over time may experience obesity and other health issues.

Gingerbread
Photo by Kelsey Weinkauf, Unsplash

Butter or Cooking Oil

Similar to sugar, butter and cooking oil aren’t toxic to dogs, but they’re still unhealthy for them. Eating buttery foods can cause an upset stomach, and lactose-intolerant dogs usually feel even sicker after eating foods rich in butter. Eating too much fat can also lead to obesity, and it puts dogs at higher risk of developing pancreatitis.

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Dangers of Feeding Gingerbread to Dogs

Even if gingerbread doesn’t contain nutmeg or other harmful spices, it’s still too fatty and sugary for dogs to eat. Dogs with sensitive stomachs are at risk of experiencing gastrointestinal upset if they eat something too sugary or rich in fat. Consuming too much sugar and fat over a long period of time can also lead to excessive weight gain, diabetes, and pancreatitis.

labrador retriever dog lying on the floor looking sad or sick
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread Cookies?

Gingerbread cookies are a different form of gingerbread, and they often contain the same ingredients. Gingerbread cookie recipes usually include nutmeg and large quantities of sugar and fat. Therefore, it’s recommended to refrain from feeding gingerbread cookies to dogs as well.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Gingerbread

Accidents happen, and dogs can get pretty creative when it comes to sneaking a bite of food. Fortunately, most dogs will be okay if they have a small bite of gingerbread.

Keep an eye on your dog and contact your veterinarian if they start showing any of these signs:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Seizures
  • Changes in behavior

If your dog has swallowed a large amount of gingerbread, they may experience more severe symptoms, especially if the recipe contains harmful ingredients. It’s best to contact your veterinarian or a pet poison control helpline right away to see what sort of medical attention your dog needs. Make sure to have the recipe or ingredient list with you so that you can share it with the veterinary care expert.

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Conclusion

Gingerbread is a risky food for dogs to eat because it often contains ingredients that are harmful to dogs and can make them feel sick. So, make sure to store it in an unreachable spot. If your dog happens to sneak a bite, keep an eye out for an upset stomach. If the gingerbread contains nutmeg, make sure to contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control hotline right away. It’s better to be safe than sorry and give your dog the medical attention they need as soon as possible.


Featured Image Credit: Cyrus Crossan, Unsplash

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