Cinnamon is a much beloved spice with many practical uses. From a cinnamon stick used to flavor a delicious cup of cider to cinnamon buns and even use in savory dishes, cinnamon earns high marks for its mysterious, sweet scent. Best of all, cinnamon tastes as good as it smells. When combined with other spices and sweeteners, it is a potent combination that is almost impossible to resist! Just ask anyone facing a piece of cinnamon toast. They’ll lap it up and head back to the toaster for more.
Even breakfast cereals get in on the act with such combinations as Cinnamon Life and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Its influence in persuading buyers of cereal cannot be denied! Add cinnamon into the mix, and it’s almost certain that more people are going to buy the product.
Yet cinnamon doesn’t just appeal to people. Dogs too are attracted by the scent of this intoxicating spice. Since we only want to feed the very best things to our dogs, it is important to understand if cinnamon is something our dogs can eat since some spices and foods humans eat can be toxic to our canine friends.
Is it safe to feed your dog cinnamon?
What is cinnamon?
A surprising fact to many cinnamon fans is the knowledge that this well-loved spice is derived from the bark of certain trees. It is a versatile ingredient which can be used in bark form or ground to be added as a spice.
Its aroma is intensely fragrant and pleasing, and as such, it finds a use in a variety of home items such as candles, essential oils, and bath products. It is, of course, also a spice used in virtually every cuisine in some format. Cinnamon lends itself particularly well to sweet applications such as cinnamon buns but also finds its way into the savory realm.
But cinnamon is not merely a name given to denote a particular spice. It also represents a shade of color. In certain countries, cinnamon is also referred to as “cassia.” Somehow this name hasn’t caught on in North American culture. Perhaps Cassia Toast Crunch just doesn’t share the same ring?
Where does cinnamon come from?
Not surprisingly, cinnamon has ancient origins. History records that the Egyptians made use of this seductive spice in 2000 BC. It achieved such notoriety for its taste and potency that it soon became the gift of choice for royalty or visiting dignitaries.
Cinnamon is indigenous to many different Middle Eastern countries. It is most commonly grown in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar.
Yet cinnamon was also seen by the ancient Egyptians to possess medicinal properties who incorporated it into the embalming ritual for preserving mummified bodies. It also found use in the worship of various deities in Greek and Roman cultures.
When not combined with sugar or other aromatics, cinnamon has an almost bitter taste. Care must be taken to add only the correct amount to properly season a dish. Balance is critical to the enjoyment of this spice. In this case, too much of a good thing is indeed just too much.
Is Cinnamon Safe for Dogs?
As a dog owner, you are no stranger to Fido’s imploring eyes when you are sitting back and enjoying a fresh from the oven cinnamon bun and a hot cup of tea. A selfless person at heart, you like to share when you can. However, it’s important to ensure that Fido is healthy, and you don’t want to feed him anything that might make him sick, or worse, that is toxic for him.
The good news is cinnamon is a perfectly healthy spice suitable for your dog to eat. Unlike nutmeg, another aromatic often used in baked goods and cooking, cinnamon is non-toxic.
It is interesting to note that cinnamon provides many different health benefits for our dogs. Among the things that cinnamon can help to support are:
- Improved cognitive ability
- Protection against diabetes
- Prevention against yeast-related problems
- Maintenance of dog food freshness
- Provision of anti-inflammatory properties
Of course, with all human foods, there are some caveats. Since cassia is often used as a “cinnamon substitute,” it is important for owners to carefully read the labels of all ground cinnamon products to ensure that they are feeding their dogs the correct item. Cassia is naturally a much darker hue than cinnamon. It contains the chemical coumarin. Coumarin, if ingested in excess, can impair and impact liver function. Ceylon cinnamon is the preferable option for canine consumption.
In addition to this, cinnamon is known to have mild anti-coagulant properties. For this reason, it is critical to add cinnamon to your dog’s diet in moderate amounts of no more than a teaspoon daily, administered with food.
Of greater concern is food fed to dogs which contains not only cinnamon but also excess amounts of fat and sugar. Not only can a healthy dose of cinnamon toast potentially lead to weight gain, it can also encourage pancreatitis. Pancreatitis at its best is mildly uncomfortable, but at its worst, can be life-threatening. It most often necessitates veterinary intervention. While it is acceptable to feed your dog a small portion of a cinnamon bun or even a spoonful of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it is best to limit it to very small portions and only on an occasional basis.
Is cinnamon safe to feed your dog? While you might not want to introduce him to all of your favorite cinnamon-based foods in a single day, it is perfectly fine to allow your dog a little treat now and again. Next time you find Fido giving you “the look” while you leisurely enjoy a buttery piece of cinnamon toast, you can safely let him sample a tiny bite. As with all human foods fed to animals, moderation is the key.