Ginger is an irresistible spice that adds a warm, zesty flavor to your favorite Asian cuisine or your festive gingerbread recipe. Plus, you may have heard of its many health benefits (including its anti-inflammatory properties). But, does this spice offer the same benefits to your best friend? Can dogs eat ginger?
Yes, most dogs can eat ginger safely — as long as you don’t feed them too much and are careful of other additives in ginger products. This rhizome, or special type of root, can have many of the same benefits for your pet as it has for people. However, some dogs have pre-existing health conditions that may not pair well with ginger.
We’ll explain how much ginger is safe for dogs, share a few safe ways to add this spice to your dog’s diet, and look at its risks and benefits. Learn how to safely feed your dog ginger.
How Can Dogs Eat Ginger Safely?
Every part of the ginger root is edible, including the skin, and dogs can eat both cooked and raw ginger. But the amount and type of ginger you feed will affect how well your dog can digest it. Here’s how to safely feed your dog ginger so they get all the benefits of this medicinal plant.
Keep the Quantity Low
Only give your dog ginger in small doses. As with any human food, giving your dog too much ginger can upset their digestive system, causing an upset stomach, bloating, and diarrhea (even though ginger is often used to treat these very same conditions).
The amount of ginger you give your dog should depend on their body weight. If your dog weighs less than two pounds, talk to your vet before sharing this spice. And keep in mind that powdered ginger is the most concentrated form of ginger. So, you’ll need to feed less powdered ginger by volume than you would fresh ginger.
For other small dogs (weighing 3-20 pounds), feed up to 1/4 teaspoon of powdered or 1 teaspoon of fresh minced ginger per day. You can feed medium dogs (weighing 20-50 pounds) as much as 1/2 teaspoon powdered or 2 teaspoons fresh ginger each day. And for large dogs (weighing 50+ pounds), feed 3/4 teaspoon powdered or 3 teaspoons fresh ginger per day.
Only Feed Fresh or Powdered Ginger
A lot of forms of ginger, like crystallized ginger, are full of sugar and other added ingredients that aren’t good for dogs. To safely feed ginger to dogs, you should stick with its purest forms, which are the fresh ginger root from the produce section and the dehydrated powdered ginger that you find in the spice section.
Ginger tea, which is an herbal tea made from dehydrated ginger root, is also fine for dogs, as long as it’s cooled to room temperature. But, you shouldn’t give your dog spice or tea blends.
Spice blends often contain spices from the allium family — like garlic, onion, and chives — which are toxic to dogs. Or they may contain spices from the capsicum family — like cayenne pepper or chilis — which can cause discomfort and irritation. Tea blends often contain caffeine, which is toxic to dogs.
Other ginger products, like stem ginger, ginger syrup, ginger snaps, and ginger ale are full of added sugars. Consuming excess sugar is bad for dogs, much like it is for humans, and over time it can lead to health problems like diabetes. And ginger tinctures made for humans often have an alcohol base, which is toxic to dogs. Stick to pure ginger when you’re sharing this spice.
Mince Fresh Ginger Before Feeding
While powdered ginger is already broken down, ginger root can be a choking hazard if you feed it to your dog in large pieces. Plus, many dogs won’t eat slices of ginger because the flavor can be too intense.
To make this food easier for your dog to eat, mince it, grate it, or puree it in a food processor before feeding it to your dog. Once it’s minced, you can sprinkle it over your dog’s food or add it to healthy, homemade dog treats.
How to Add Ginger to Your Dog’s Diet
The easiest way to add ginger to your dog’s diet is to sprinkle it over their pet food, but you can also make a variety of homemade ginger treats for your dog. Try making one of these easy mixtures at home:
- Ginger-turmeric latte: Combine 1 ounce of milk (or coconut milk for lactose intolerant dogs) with 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, and a pinch of black pepper. Then, froth with a milk frother. The black pepper makes the anti-inflammatory compounds in turmeric more bioavailable, which is why we use this combo in our Relief Chews.
- Ginger tea pupsicles: Cover one sachet of ginger tea (one without added spices) with eight ounces of boiling water, and allow it to steep for seven minutes. Remove the sachet, stir in 1 teaspoon of honey, and leave the mixture to cool to room temperature. Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze it for 24 hours to make individual pupsicles.
- Ginger and honey yogurt: Yogurt is a good source of probiotics for dogs. Mix 1 tablespoon of yogurt with 1/4 teaspoon of ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of honey to make an easy probiotic dog treat.
The Benefits of Ginger for Dogs
In humans, ginger has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. But, is ginger good for dogs?
There are far fewer studies on the benefits of ginger for dogs than there are on its benefits for humans. The small amount of evidence we have suggests that this spice can help our canine companions in the same ways it helps us. Here’s a look at some of the positive effects of ginger:
- Anti-nausea: Studies on humans and dogs show that gingerol, a chemical compound that occurs naturally in ginger, can help reduce nausea and stomach upset. If your dog experiences motion sickness during car rides, try feeding ginger beforehand to settle your dog’s stomach. It can also support a dog’s cancer treatment by reducing nausea that occurs as a side effect of chemotherapy.
- Antioxidants: Gingerol is also a powerful antioxidant that can support your dog’s immune system and may help prevent cell damage. In a comprehensive scientific review, one study suggested ginger had an anti-tumor effect that could be beneficial for preventing some types of cancer.
- Anti-inflammatory: Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, again thanks to that special compound gingerol. Studies have found that it can help reduce joint pain from osteoarthritis, as well as other types of pain like migraine and lower back pain. Ginger is an excellent form of natural pain relief for dogs.
Ginger may have other promising effects on your dog’s health as well. Scientists are researching its potential as a treatment for heartworm disease after one study found that a ginger-based medicine reduced the concentration of worms by 83%. But this study used a special medicinal mixture and research is still ongoing. Ginger should never be used as a substitute for veterinary treatment in fighting this deadly disease.
The Risks of Ginger for Dogs
Ginger is a natural blood thinner, so if your dog has a clotting disorder, they shouldn’t consume this spice.
It’s also best to avoid feeding your dog ginger before they undergo surgery, and it shouldn’t be combined with other blood thinners, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). The most common NSAIDs for dogs include Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Previcox, and Metacam. But if your dog is on any prescription medication, check with your vet before your dog eats ginger.
You should also talk to your vet if your dog has diabetes or a heart condition. Ginger can reduce your dog’s blood sugar and blood pressure, so it may not be safe to feed with these health conditions.
There’s a Reason for This Rhizome
Not only can dogs eat ginger, but ginger can have a lot of benefits for your dog’s health. It offers anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that support your best friend’s overall immune system. This root can also be a powerful natural pain reliever, so it’s a great option for dogs suffering from osteoarthritis or joint pain. Plus, it’s easy to feed.
The entire ginger root, including the skin, is safe for dogs to eat. So, all you have to do is mince fresh ginger or use powdered ginger to add this spice to your dog’s diet. But remember: If your dog has a pre-existing health condition, it’s always best to check with your vet before introducing a new human food.
For more information on your pet’s health and wellness, visit the Native Pet blog.