Probably more popular in Great Britain, Australia, and New England than elsewhere, mince pie (or mincemeat pie, as it’s also known) dates back to the 13th century when Crusaders returning to Europe brought back Middle Eastern ideas of combining meats, fruits, and spices. Today these pies are usually found around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The meats have vanished in many mince pies (though not all) in favor of becoming sweeter. Can dogs have mince pie? Let’s check the ingredients.
Mince Pie Nutrition
The mince pie has undergone many changes over the centuries. These pies were originally a combination of sweet and savory ingredients, including meats – hence the term “mincemeat.” In England in the 17th century the recipe include mutton (or veal or beef) and mutton suet, pepper, salt, cloves, mace, currants, raisins, prunes, dates, and orange peel. A 19th century American recipe called for calf tongue, beef suet, bloom raisins, currants, mace, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar, apples, lemons, brandy, and orange peel.
By Victorian times, the addition of meat in the mince pie begins to disappear. None Such , owned by the J.M. Smucker Company, still contains beef. So, if you are planning to buy prepared mincemeat, you have a choice of meat or no-meat in the filling.
As for nutrition, one piece of mince pie (1/8 of a 9” diameter pie) is about 165 grams. It has 62 percent carbohydrates, 34 percent fats, and 4 percent protein. It’s very low in cholesterol but most of the calories come from sugars.
That one slice contains 477 calories.
It has 79.2 grams of carbohydrates, 4.3 grams of fiber, 17.8 grams of fat, and 4.3 grams of protein.
Mincemeat pie is high in some vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese, and selenium.
Despite the vitamins and minerals, mince pies are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Beef suet is a standard ingredient in traditional recipes. Consider a mince pie a luxury food.
You can find “healthy” mincemeat pie recipes online but healthy depends on your perspective. Some pies may contain less sugar or less fat but they are still fairly rich desserts with quite a few calories.
For a look at the full ingredient list if you are making mince meat filling from scratch, this web site has a good list. We’ll take a look at some of the ingredients that may not be suitable for dogs below.
Can You Give Your Dog Mince Pie to Eat?
Mince pie is not recommended for dogs. The ingredients that make mince pie delicious include raisins, currants, nutmeg, and alcohol (brandy and/or rum). All of these ingredients can be toxic to dogs.
Raisins are one of the foods that can be most toxic to dogs, along with currants. All kinds of raisins and currants can be toxic to dogs, including organic and seedless varieties. There is no well-established toxic dose. Some dogs are more sensitive to these fruits than others but there is no way to predict which dogs are most sensitive. A dog that eats raisins or currants can develop kidney failure.
Early symptoms of raisin toxicity
- Vomiting (usually within 24 hours of ingestion)
- Lack of appetite
- Possibly diarrhea within the next 12-24 hours
Signs of acute kidney failure if not treated early
- Lack of appetite
- Uremic breath (ammonia odor)
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Kidneys stop functioning
If you suspect that your dog has eaten raisins or currants – even a few – take him to the veterinarian right away. The faster your dog can be treated, the better the prognosis.
Nutmeg contains a substance called myristicin which is very bad for dogs. It acts as a neurotoxin. At high doses your dog could experience disorientation, hallucinations, increased heart rate and blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and seizures.
Mace is the seed covering for nutmeg. Once dried and crushed, it becomes a popular spice. In large amounts it can present some of the same problems for dogs as nutmeg. It can produce stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and nervousness.
Cinnamon, another ingredient often used in mince pies, is not toxic to your dog. It’s often used in doggy birthday cakes and cookies. However, too much is not recommended. Large amounts of the powder or exposure to the essential oil could lead to some health problems.
Cloves and allspice contain compounds called eugenols which can cause liver toxicity in cats. They seem to be relatively safe for dogs.
Ginger isn’t harmful to dogs. It’s often used in dog treats and snacks today and even added to dog foods. However, you probably don’t want your dog to eat it in large amounts. Some mince pies also include crystallized or candied ginger as an ingredient.
In addition to the spices, mince pie filling is loaded with sugar. Depending on the recipe, it can have brown sugar, granulated sugar, or other kinds of sweeteners such as corn syrup. Large amounts of sugar aren’t good for dogs. Too much sugar can affect your dog’s heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and other organs.
Mince pies also feature nuts such as almonds. One or two of these nuts won’t hurt your dog but eating a lot of nuts can be problematic. In addition, you may not be certain if there are other nuts in the pie that might be more harmful such as macadamia nuts which are toxic to dogs.
Finally, many mince pies contain added brandy, rum, or other alcohol. Liquor can be very harmful to your dog.
There is always some leeway with traditional dishes like mince pie so it’s possible someone might make a mince pie that doesn’t contain any of these ingredients. However, you can’t be certain. It’s best not to take any chances where some of these harmful ingredients are concerned.
How Much Mince Pie Can Dogs Eat?
We recommend that you don’t let your dog eat any mince pie.
In the UK, Tesco sells some mince pies that are made for dogs.
What If Your Dog Eats Some Mince Pie Filling?
Since mince pie filling almost universally contains raisins (and sometimes currants), along with some other harmful ingredients for dogs, we suggest that you call your veterinarian’s office immediately. Describe how much mince pie your dog ate and if there are raisins in the pie. Ask your veterinarian if you should take your dog to the office or watch for symptoms.
People seem to love or hate mince pie. It brings out strong feelings! Your dog might be very tempted by this dessert since it’s often made using suet and even beef. However, mince pie is a definite no for dogs because of the raisins, currants, nutmeg, and other ingredients. If you are serving it in your home, keep it where your dog can’t reach it. Make sure you tell your family members and guests that it’s strictly off-limits to dogs!