Who can resist sharing their favorite pizza-pasta side with their all-too-eager-to-eat-anything furry friend? Or have you recently switched your pet to a plant-based, vegan, or grain-free diet and thinking of adding pesto to your dog’s food to spice things up? Perhaps your dog snatched your pesto jar as you were busy with a million-and-one other things while preparing dinner. Should you let it go or be alarmed? Have you been feeding your dog pesto for years and find yourself suddenly wondering if that is okay? Can dogs eat pesto safely? Be sure to take a good look at the ingredients list on your pantry products, and read on.
Can dogs eat pesto? The short answer is no. The probability of your favorite pesto containing something that could cause harm to your furry family member is simply too high. Many ingredients typically found in pesto can cause serious reactions in dogs ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, and long-term damage. However, making a pet-friendly pesto is super easy! NOTE: If you are in any way concerned about your pet, contact your vet immediately. And always read the label.
Which ingredients in pesto are harmful to dogs?
RED ALERT INGREDIENTS:
Best pestos contain a good helping of garlic. There has been a fair amount of controversy about this ingredient since it forms part of the onion family (onions, leeks, spring onions) which are extremely toxic for dogs. Although garlic adds wonderful flavor for humans, it does have the potential to be poisonous to dogs. If fed in large quantities over a long period of time, garlic causes anemia often observed in pale gums, high heart rate, and weakness. But, in small quantities garlic has many benefits such as keeping fleas at bay, regulating blood sugar, and serving as a natural antibiotic. If you are feeding garlic to your dog, it is best to use it sparingly.
If your pesto contains walnuts contact your vet immediately, especially if your dog starts to vomit or show signs of seizures. One walnut might not have an effect but more than that could be detrimental. Why walnuts? These nuts are particularly susceptible to mycotoxin growth for which dogs are extremely sensitive. Macadamia nuts have also been known to be poisonous to dogs, and although reactions seem to be varied (usually non-fatal, but severe), it is best to steer clear of this one too.
MAYBE OKAY INGREDIENTS:
Pestos don’t necessarily include walnuts. If there other nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pine nuts you should use your discretion. Some dogs have shown allergic reactions to cashews, so as the dog mom or dad, you will know best. Moderation is always key when it comes to high-calorie ingredients such as cheese, pine nuts, and oil, so make sure you monitor your dog’s intake.
Salt is also a flavor-boosting ingredient found in all our favorite foods. Salt isn’t bad for dogs, but too much of it can cause sodium poisoning, which can ultimately be fatal. Be extra sensitive if your dog has an underlying condition like kidney, liver, or heart disease. There should always be ample fresh drinking water available for dogs.
ALL GOOD INGREDIENTS:
Herbs are pretty much the only thing you don’t need to worry about in pesto. Herbs and spices can actually be beneficial to your dog’s health since many contain essential vitamins and minerals. Many herbs also have benefits for digestive health and have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties. All these benefits are a result of phytogenic compounds found in herbs. Parsley (great breath freshener for your dog), cilantro, sage, rocket, peppermint (excellent for digestive health), basil, dill, rosemary, and oregano are all okay – at least in the quantities we typically serve pesto in. But be aware of black pepper and nutmeg – luckily not found in large quantities in pesto – which can have detrimental effects, but is not poisonous. NOTE: Some herbs can interfere with your dog’s medication, so, if your furry friend is on permanent medication it is best to consult your veterinarian before feeding them any herbs.
Any dog-friendly pesto’s available on the market?
Since dogs are so sensitive to all the ingredients found in the pesto’s we humans love so much, the best alternative is to make your own. Now that you know which ingredients to use in moderation, and from which to stay away, you are now able to design very your own custom pesto for your furry friend. Below is a generic suggestion of a dog-friendly pesto. Do not include any of these ingredients even if you suspect that your dog might be sensitive to them.
- 1 cup fresh herbs
- ¼ – 1/3 cup grated hard cheese such a parmesan
- ¼ clove of garlic
- Small amount of dog safe nuts (one brazil nut, four almonds, etc.)
- Oil of your choice if needed for blending
Pulse all the ingredients together until a fine paste is formed. Your dog-friendly pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to one week, or can be frozen in portion sizes – an ice cube tray can work perfectly for this.
NOTE: Although this is a dog-friendly version, allowance should still be limited for the sake of calorie intake. Restrict this pesto to 1 teaspoon per day for every 10 pounds of body weight.
Dog-friendly pesto for the win
There you have it! Now you can feed your dog his or her favorite pesto in a way that is both a treat and a tonic. Dog-friendly pesto can be a very valuable addition to your dog’s diet, both in nutrition and flavor! As dog moms and dads we always want the best for our pet pals, and we also know them the best. Always carefully observe unusual reactions in your pets and steer clear if your pet is allergic to certain ingredients. Consult your veterinarian immediately should you see any kind of negative reaction.