Can Dogs Eat Basil

picture of basil

Another culinary herb in the mint family, basil is used in cuisines throughout the world. Along with its use in food, basil is also used in folk medicine as an insect repellent and to inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. Of course, the important question is, can dogs eat basil? Find out below.

Nutrition

As with many other herbs, especially in the mint family, basil is sometimes used as a tea as well as in cooking. There are numerous varieties but the most popular is sweet basil. It’s commonly sold in grocery stores and used in Italian recipes. A variety called holy basil is typically used in herbal teas and for supplements.

Most recipes call for very small amounts of basil so it provides few vitamins and minerals in this form. Fresh leaves are usually added in the final stages of cooking so their flavor won’t fade.

Basil, fresh (Note that 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of basil is far more than you would normally add to any recipe.)

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 94 kJ (22 kcal)
Carbohydrates 2.65 g
Dietary fiber 1.6 g
Fat 0.64 g
Protein 3.15 g
Vitamins Quantity

%DV

Vitamin A equiv.

beta-Carotene

33%

264 μg

29%

3142 μg

Thiamine (B1) 3%

0.034 mg

Riboflavin (B2) 6%

0.076 mg

Niacin (B3) 6%

0.902 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5) 4%

0.209 mg

Vitamin B6 12%

0.155 mg

Folate (B9) 17%

68 μg

Choline 2%

11.4 mg

Vitamin C 22%

18.0 mg

Vitamin E 5%

0.80 mg

Vitamin K 395%

414.8 μg

Minerals Quantity

%DV

Calcium 18%

177 mg

Copper 19%

0.385 mg

Iron 24%

3.17 mg

Magnesium 18%

64 mg

Manganese 55%

1.148 mg

Phosphorus 8%

56 mg

Potassium 6%

295 mg

Selenium 0%

0.3 μg

Sodium 0%

4 mg

Zinc 9%

0.81 mg

Other constituents Quantity
Water 92.06 g
·     Units

·     μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams

·     IU = International units

†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

 

Basil is a very good source of vitamin K in both fresh and dried forms.

Basil is a good source of beneficial plant compounds such as antioxidants.

Basil has been widely used in folk remedies for problems such as nausea and insect bites. It’s used in both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as other holistic systems.

Sweet basil is being studied (with mice) for its effectiveness in treating many things such as memory loss in association with stress and aging; depression and chronic stress; reducing stroke damage; improving fasting blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides; reducing high blood pressure; preventing certain cancers; and more.

Basil may help fight off bacterial infections in the body. The antioxidants in basil are also thought to help reduce inflammation.

Basil is considered safe for most people in small amounts. There are some precautions to note. Since basil leaves are high in vitamin K, which helps blood to clot, eating a lot of basil could interfere with certain blood thinners such as Warfarin.

At the other extreme, basil extracts, like those found in supplements, can thin the blood, leading to the opposite problem, especially if you have a bleeding disorder or will be undergoing surgery.

If you take medication to lower your blood pressure or diabetic drugs, use caution with basil supplements. They can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor and see if your medication needs to be adjusted.

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, avoid holy basil. This variety of basil may effect sperm in a negative way. It may also cause contractions during pregnancy. Its effects during breastfeeding are not known.

There are a few known cases of basil allergies in people who have eaten pesto which is made from basil.

Can Dogs Have Basil?

Basil is not toxic to dogs. It’s considered to be safe to give basil to dogs in small amounts. Of course, it will also depend on the food that the basil is used in. For example, you won’t want to give your dog spaghetti sauce with basil if it also contains onions or garlic – both of which are dangerous to dogs.

You can add a few fresh basil leaves to your dog’s meal. You can also share some dog-friendly pesto with your dog (no garlic).

Do keep in mind some of the risks associated with basil. If your dog is diabetic, basil can lower blood sugar levels. Talk to your veterinarian.

Avoid giving breeding dogs holy basil (used in supplements). Holy basil is associated with negative effects on the sperm and contractions during pregnancy for female dogs.

Dogs with any bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, should avoid basil extracts and supplements since they can thin the blood. The same is true with any dogs that will be undergoing surgery within a short time.

How Much?

Some dogs may like the taste of basil, others won’t. Honestly, some dogs probably won’t notice it in food at all. Dogs don’t have as many taste buds as humans so they don’t always taste some of the things we taste. (Dogs only have about 1700 taste buds compared to the 9000 that we have.)

We recommend that you only give your dog small amounts of basil. Stick to the same small amounts that are called for in recipes for human meals. Most recipes call for no more than ¼ to ½ teaspoon of dried basil. That is the equivalent of 2-3 fresh leaves.

How Often?

If you give your dog basil once or twice and he shows no ill effects, you should be able to give him the herb in small amounts in his food a couple of times per week.

If you are giving your dog basil supplements, we suggest that your talk to your veterinarian, especially if your dog is diabetic or has any other health conditions. Basil supplements are made from basil extracts. They are stronger than the leaves or dried basil. They can have some effects on your dog’s blood sugar levels and other health issues.

Conclusion

Basil is extremely popular all over the world in many cuisines. It’s also widely used in folk medicine. It is safe to give to most dogs in small amounts as fresh leaves or as the dried herb. If you are using basil supplements, we suggest that you talk to your veterinarian, especially if your dog is diabetic, has any bleeding disorders, or has any other health issues. Avoid giving breeding dogs holy basil or basil supplements since they can effect the sperm of males and cause contractions during pregnancy.

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