If your dog has ever eaten an unchaperoned ginger cookie from the kitchen counter, and you've wondered if he or she will get sick — rest assured, that ginger will not harm your best friend. In fact, aside from a few exceptions, ginger is harmless and offers a variety of health benefits to dogs.
Ginger is a 5,000-year-old spice that has been used as a tonic by ancient Ayurvedic medicine practitioners and Chinese physicians for a variety of ailments from upset stomachs and diarrhea to arthritis and cardiovascular problems. In this article, we explore the benefits of ginger for dogs, recommended dosages, how to prepare ginger for dogs, as well as concerns about feeding too much ginger to your beloved pet.
Can dogs eat ginger?
Yes, dogs can eat ginger. Ginger is a healthy herb for dogs to eat, but avoid giving them too much in a single serving (see the dose recommendations below) because it can cause, instead of cure, gastrointestinal problems. Ginger is best incorporated into your dog's meal as an ingredient, rather than fed to them as a single, independent snack.
Health benefits of ginger for dogs
Not only has ginger been used as a spice for centuries, it's also been administered medicinally by physicians in India and China since ancient times. It turns out that dogs and humans alike can benefit from consuming ginger.
Ginger is an antiemetic, which is a compound that helps ease symptoms of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. Ginger blocks the neurotransmitters in a dog's body that trigger gastrointestinal problems. It was used early on by both Chinese and Ayurvedic medical practitioners to support healthy digestion and to soothe upset stomach.
Gastrointestinal Problems The terpenes and phenolic compounds that compose the rhizomes in ginger stimulate the muscles of the gastric tract to reduce nausea in both dogs and humans. Ginger can also help dogs with various other gastrointestinal problems like gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, loss of appetite and dyspepsia (discomfort after eating).
Cardiovascular Disease Ginger not only stimulates the muscles of the gastric tract, but consumption of ginger is known to also stimulate heart muscles, resulting in better blood circulation throughout the body and increased cellular metabolic activity. It also helps to reduce blood pressure and cardiac workload.
Some holistic veterinarians use ginger as part of ongoing therapy for dogs suffering from heart disease. The rhizomes in ginger have cardio-tonic and anti-clotting properties that some studies suggest excite dogs' blood circulation, which can relieve cramps and tension in the cardiovascular system.
Canine Heartworm Disease
While research is still in early stages, some studies suggests that ginger could be an effective treatment for dogs suffering from canine heartworm disease. In a study published in the Korean Journal of Parasitology, ginger was administered to canine patients who experienced a significant reduction in the number of worm larvae in their cardiovascular system.
Anti-Inflammation A study conducted by the Industrial Toxicology Research Center claims that ginger relieves dogs of pain caused by arthritis and muscle soreness. Try adding ginger to a homemade dog treat to help ease your dog of discomfort from joint pain.
How to prepare ginger for dogs
A general rule for serving dogs ginger is no more than roughly 1 teaspoon when served raw. But feeding your dog ginger alongside a blend of other herbs and nutrients is preferred by some veterinarians, who themselves often have a recommended blend.
Most dogs respond best to ginger when it's sprinkled on top of their food, or as an ingredient in homemade treats.
Estimated herbal intake based on a dog's weight:
- 1-10 pound dogs: 1/8 tsp
- 10-20 pounds: 1/8 to 1/4 tsp
- 20-50 pounds: 1 tsp
- 50-100 pounds: 2 tsp
- Over 100 pounds: 1 tbsp
Concerns with feeding ginger for dogs
There's a reason the saying "too much of a good thing" is a popular sentiment in Western cultures. This truism also applies to feeding ginger to dogs. A little bit is beneficial, but too much ginger can cause your dog to suffer gastrointestinal discomfort including gas, bloat, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and heartburn.
Since ginger thins the blood and increases circulation, too much ginger can lower both blood sugar and blood pressure. So consult a veterinarian about administering ginger to dogs who are diabetic or who suffer from a heart condition.
Dogs can eat ginger as a powder, tincture, tea, tablets or in raw form. Ginger provides a variety of medicinal benefits for dogs, and it's often used to treat nausea, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular complications, joint pain and canine heartworm disease.
It's a common practice for ginger to be served to dogs as either an ingredient in a treat or a meal, or as part of an herbal blend. The amount of ginger you can feed a dog is determined by their size. Too much ginger can cause the very issues that ginger is intended to cure: gas, bloat, diarrhea and vomiting. Ginger is not recommended for diabetic dogs or dogs who suffer heart conditions. As with any medicinal treatment, consulting a veterinarian is optimal before administering ginger or any other herb to a dog.