Are you fond of Italian food? If you are, then you probably like oregano. This Mediterranean herb is widely used in Italian, Spanish, Mexican, and French cuisine. Oregano also has a solid reputation in folk medicine. So, can dogs eat oregano? Find out below.
Oregano is another plant in the mint family. It’s a flowering plant that is widely naturalized in the northern hemisphere where conditions are temperate. It’s closely related to the herb marjoram. The leaves are used in cooking. There are numerous subspecies and strains of oregano. Many of them are cultivated for different flavors.
As an herb, oregano is normally used in very small amounts. Don’t expect to find huge nutritional benefits from it as a food. One teaspoon of dried oregano leaves contains 2.7 calories. It has 0.3 mg of sodium, 13 mg of potassium, 0.7 grams of carbohydrates, 0.4 grams of dietary fiber, and 0.1 grams of protein. It has very small amounts of the daily recommended values for vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
That doesn’t mean that oregano isn’t good for you. Oregano contains a number of antioxidants such as thymol, carvacrol, limonene, terpinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene. These antioxidants contribute to the herb’s health benefits. The chemical compound pinene also contributes to the flavor.
Antioxidants help the body eliminate free radicals which are associated with oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to the break down of cells and to diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It’s thought that antioxidants that get rid of some free radicals can be good for your health.
Oregano has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It has been used to treat ailments such as:
- sores on the skin
- achy muscles
- boosting overall health
There is also some recent interest in investigating oregano for other potential benefits:
- Regulating blood sugar and lipids
- Fighting cancer
For many years, some antibiotics were routinely used as a preventive measure while raising chickens and other poultry. The use of these antibiotics in the United States was eliminated a few years ago. Many people who raise chickens were left looking for other ways to try to keep their birds healthy while they raised them. Some of them have turned to the use of oregano in the diets of their poultry. They consider oregano to be something of a natural antibiotic.
In the past, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has issued warning letters to some companies that they should not advertise their oregano herbal products, including oregano essential oil, as having unproven health benefits. Many of the medicinal benefits of oregano are unproven.
Oregano essential oil contains the antioxidants carvacrol and thymol. These antioxidants may be particularly useful as antibacterials. In one study, oregano essential oil prevented strains of Staphyloccus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria from developing in meat and dairy products. This suggested that it could be used to control bacterial growth in foods.
Oregano essential oil also showed significant antibacterial activity against 11 microbes that don’t typically respond to other drugs. This appears to suggest that there are substances in oregano that could help fight diseases that don’t respond to antibiotics.
Oregano extract was used to reduce inflammation in one study.
Authors of one study using rats in 2016 found that oregano might help manage type 2 diabetes.
As with some other herbs, oregano is safe for most people to consume. However, there are some possible risks at times.
- If you are taking medications or have a specific medical condition, talk to your doctor before adding oregano to your diet as a supplement.
- Avoid products containing oregano for two weeks prior to any surgery since oregano can increase the risk of bleeding.
- If you are using oregano essential oil, dilute it with a carrier oil such as olive oil, or add it to water (as for a steam bath). Don’t use oregano oil at a concentration of more than 1%. Otherwise skin irritation can occur.
- Essential oils can be dangerous if you swallow them or apply them directly to the skin. Always check to discover the correct way to use a product to prevent any toxic reaction.
- Oregano can affect the body’s ability to absorb certain minerals such as iron, copper, and zinc. It may also lower blood sugar levels.
- Oregano belongs to the Lamiaceae family. This is the same family as basil, lavender, mint, and sage. If you are allergic to any of these plants you could very well be allergic to oregano so use care.
Can Dogs Have Oregano?
Oregano is not harmful to dogs when used in moderation. In fact, dogs can benefit from oregano in many of the same ways that humans can. You do need to use the same precautions for dogs that you would use for humans. Don’t give your dog undiluted oregano essential oil either topically or orally. And, only give your dog oregano in small amounts.
The same compounds in oregano that make it good at fighting harmful bacteria and microorganisms in humans (and chickens) also appear to help dogs.
Oregano has proven useful for fighting some parasites in dogs. It’s been used to help with:
- Ear mites
- Yeast infections
- Staphylococcus aureus — a.k.a. MRSA
Oregano is safe for most dogs but if your dog has any specific health problems, talk to your veterinarian before using it. Do not use it with puppies under the age of 10 weeks old. Don’t give it to pregnant or nursing females. Use caution giving it to any dog with diabetes since it can lower blood sugar levels.
Don’t give oregano to any dog with a bleeding disorder since oregano can increase bleeding. Don’t use oregano around a dog’s eyes, nose, or genitals. Essential oils can burn, especially if they are too strong, and these are sensitive areas.
How Much Oregano Can You Give Your Dog?
If you are using oregano essential oil, a little goes a long way! If you are using it topically for your dog, such as for a skin condition, mix one drop of the oil with one teaspoon of the carrier oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil). If you notice any irritation or reaction, discontinue use immediately.
If you are giving oregano essential oil to your dog orally, you can use 2-3 drops in one teaspoon of a carrier oil.
You can make your own oregano oil at home. Mix ½ teaspoon of good quality dried oregano with ½ to one ounce of olive oil. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for one or two days. Then dilute and use as your would with oregano essential oil purchased at a store. Don’t worry that the dried oregano won’t be potent. Dried oregano can be more intense than fresh oregano.
If you are giving your dog oregano for a specific issue and using a small dosage, you can generally treat your dog 2-3 times per day. We do recommend that you talk to your veterinarian or a holistic veterinarian to get a good diagnosis. A professional can take into account your dog’s overall health, weight, age, and other factors.
If oregano leaves are simply an occasional part of your dog’s diet, such as a small ingredient in cookies or treats, you can give them several times per week.
Oregano has been a popular herb in Mediterranean foods for centuries. It’s also popular in folk medicine. Today it also shows promise in some studies as a way to fight bacteria and help some health problems. It’s safe for dogs in small amounts. In fact, it’s even used to treat some parasite problems and other health issues. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions.