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Can Dogs Eat Basil? | Is Basil Bad for Dogs?

is basil bad for dogs

Basil has been around for over 4,000 years and can be used as an ingredient to spruce up a countless number of recipes.  It can be used in salads, pastas, pizzas—quite frankly it can be a great addition to any meal!  If you’re anything like my Italian mother, you love your basil and have multiple basil plants around the house ready to be picked and sprinkled on to the next meal.  As a dog owner, is it safe to have basil throughout the house?  Is basil safe for dogs?  Can dogs eat basil?  Continue reading to find the answers—they might surprise you! 

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Can Dogs Eat Basil? (The Short Answer)

Yes, dogs can eat basil!  Like most herbs, basil contains very few calories which makes it a healthier option if you want to let your dog enjoy something new.  Packed into this low-calorie food is multiple vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  This leafy, green plant has also been known to have other benefits including reducing inflammation and calming the mind.  As long as you’re compliant with some precautionary measures, such as not giving too big of portions and being aware of signs of an allergic reaction, your pup can safely enjoy this new addition to their diet.

It’s important to remember, that even with the best of intentions, accidents happen and dogs can easily eat things they shouldn’t.  Unfortunately, even if those accidents aren’t fatal, they can result in huge, unexpected veterinary expenses.  That’s why we recommend all responsible dog owners get a free, online pet insurance quote from Healthy Paws.

Is Basil Good For Dogs?

Yes!  Basil provides many health benefits for humans and dogs alike!  These range from including extra vitamins and minerals, reducing arthritis inflammation, help with digestion, and more! 

First and foremost, like most herbs, basil contains ample amounts of vitamins including, but not limited to, Vitamins A, K, and C.  Vitamin A is essential to keeping everything from the coat, to the muscles, to the nerves working properly.  Vitamin K is essential for blood to clot appropriately.  Vitamin C reduces inflammation and can help eliminate free radicals throughout the body. 

In addition to these vitamins, basil also contains the minerals manganese, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids!  Manganese is an important factor in enzymes and contributes to maintenance of bones and joints.  Iron benefits your pup by maintaining hemoglobin and red blood cell levels which transport essential nutrients throughout the body.  Calcium helps support bone and teeth health while omega-3 fatty acids support the immune system, brain development, and can reduce arthritis pain. 

As well as vitamins and minerals, basil also contains antioxidants.  Antioxidants have been known to reduce free radicals throughout the body, and thus decrease risks of cancer. 

Vitamins and minerals are in a lot of foods, so what makes basil so special?  Well, basil has been shown to reduce arthritis in dogs by decreasing inflammation, and it also helps decrease inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Another great aspect of basil is that it has calming effects.  If you’re wary about giving your dog any type of medication to treat anxiety, you may want to consider giving them small portions of a specific type of basil—holy basil.  It has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. 

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Is Basil Bad for Dogs?

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat basil?” Now, let’s learn about the dangers of feeding your dog this food! Is basil bad for dogs?

For the most part, basil is safe for dogs to enjoy!  We all want to keep our beloved pets as safe as possible, so here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Basil should be given in small portions.  Dogs have more sensitive stomachs than those of humans, so new foods should be introduced slowly.  Too big of portion sizes may cause digestive issues including vomiting and diarrhea.  Very large portions could potentially result in liver or kidney problems.  Even with humans, basil has a pretty distinct taste and as such we sprinkle it lightly instead of dousing our meals with it.  Consider this when feeding basil to your dog—sometimes less is more. 

Another thing to be aware of is that some dogs have allergies to herbs.  Monitor your pet for signs of an allergic reaction.  This could include reactions such as excessive itchiness, redness of the skin, restlessness/agitation, and swelling.  Dogs often scratch, lick, or bite these itchy areas excessively.

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Varieties of Basil & Basil Products:

Is Basil Pesto Safe for Your Pup?

Yes and no.  Homemade pesto can be safe if you don’t include any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as onion or garlic.  Nearly all store-bought pestos contain garlic which is toxic to dogs so it’s best to steer clear of those.  However, it is rather easy to make a homemade basil pesto with ingredients such as basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a dash of salt.  These ingredients are all safe for dogs in small quantities.  Keep in mind that once the basil is added in with other ingredients such as cheese and salt, it isn’t quite as healthy and therefore should be given only occasionally.  The additional cheese includes extra calories that plain basil does not. 

Can Dogs Eat Basil Leaves?

Yes!  Dogs can eat basil leaves!  Basil leaves are safe.  The leaves are the part of the plant that is generally consumed.  They can be sprinkled over their normal dinner, churned into a homemade pesto, or even given directly as a leaf. 

Can Dogs Eat Fresh Basil?

Yes!  Dogs can eat fresh basil!  In fact, you can pluck some right out of the garden and give it to your pup after rinsing it with water. 

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Basil?

Yes, yes, yes!  It is safe for your dog to eat basil and it has some potential health benefits as well!  This low-calorie herb can add a new taste as well as supplemental vitamins and minerals into your dog’s diet.  Its anti-inflammatory properties can help with conditions such as arthritis or IBD.  Even more special is that basil may help calm dogs down if they’re stressed.  As long as you’re cautious about the amount of basil that you give to your dog, adding some basil to their diet should be considered a net positive!

Want to Learn More?

Check out these related articles from our “Read Before You Feed” series for more advice on safe foods for dogs!

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and this article should not be taken as medical or veterinary advice.  If you have any questions about your pet’s health or dietary needs, please contact your local veterinarian.