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Pets are members of the family, so it’s only fitting that they’d join in the holiday festivities each year. More than three quarters of the pet parents who responded to our recent survey say they’ll be purchasing gifts for their four-legged friends this year. Does that mean cats and dogs can enjoy holiday baked goods too?
Not necessarily. A number of favorite holiday treats include ingredients that could make your pet sick or even poison them. We all know that chocolate is a no-go, but what about other desserts?
Can Dogs and Cats Eat Gingerbread?
No, pets should not eat gingerbread. While a bite won’t necessarily prove toxic, many common gingerbread ingredients could present issues for both dogs and cats.
Nutmeg, for example, can cause digestive problems in small quantities and poisoning in larger amounts. The quantity of nutmeg found in a recipe is unlikely to cause any trouble, but at-home chefs should exercise caution while cooking with nutmeg and ensure spice cabinets and containers are always securely locked. The spice contains a substance called myristicin which can lead to symptoms including hallucinations, disorientation, and elevated heart rate when consumed in large doses.
Large amounts of cinnamon can also lead to negative reactions. Overdoses may result in vomiting and extreme cases could even cause liver damage. In powdered form, the spice can also irritate the lungs, causing difficulty breathing and choking in pets.
That’s not to mention all the other potentially harmful ingredients hiding in a batch of gingerbread cookies. The same ingredients that make gingerbread an indulgent treat for us (butter, sugar, etc.) can lead to a range of issues for our pets. Add in frosting, sprinkles, and other edible decorations and gingerbread becomes an even more dangerous snack. Small helpings may lead to nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting and serious snacking can leave pets dealing with excess weight and conditions like diabetes.
The Benefits of Ginger
Gingerbread isn’t a safe snack, but one of its namesake ingredients may actually benefit your dog or cat in small quantities. If you’ve ever nursed an upset stomach with ginger ale or steeped the raw herb in a tea, you’re already familiar with the medicinal effects of ginger. In small quantities, ginger can have the same soothing effect for our pets as it does for us. It’s a popular over-the-counter remedy for nausea and vomiting and years of anecdotal evidence suggests that it works.
Pet-Safe Gingerbread Treats
Want to enjoy some gingerbread with your dogs and cats this holiday season? Check out this recipe for pet-safe cookies:
- 2 tablespoons of molasses
- 2 teaspoons of grated or ground ginger
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- An egg
- ⅓ cup of chunky peanut butter (watch out for xylitol, a potentially-dangerous artificial sweetener)
- Preheat your oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit
- Whisk wet ingredients together in a large bowl
- Add dry ingredients
- Knead combined ingredients until they form a stiff dough, adding flour if necessary
- Roll out dough on a lightly-floured surface
- Cut into whatever shape you like
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown
- Cool before serving to your pet