The question is can dogs eat basil? According to the ASPCA, it’s safe for your dog to eat basil in that it’s non-toxic to your dog. However, to answer the question to its full extent, you will need to look at two perspectives. The first is basil toxic to your dog, and secondly, will your dog derive any health benefits from eating the herb? If there are no particular benefits, then there’s an argument that asks, what is the point?
As we said at the start, basil is not toxic to your dog, but there is still the question of the nutritional benefits your dog can obtain, if any, from feeding him basil.
Health Benefits Of Basil For Dogs
Basil does contain antioxidants, and they can provide essential health benefits. So, feeding basil to your dog will aid his immune system and help in his fight preventing severe illness. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant level of basil may help your dog ward off illnesses, including cancer. There is some suggestion it can reduce stress levels with over-anxious dogs and may even reduce arthritic pain.
There does seem to be some nutritional value in feeding basil to your dog, but I caution against believing that this herb can cure any severe illness in your dog. I cannot find any definitive evidence by any study that proves the claims that basil protects dogs against severe and life-threatening diseases. I would also add that these are the kind of questions you should put to your vet before taking the step and feed basil to your dog.
Undoubtedly basil contains an exceptional nutritional value such as beta-carotene, vitamins K, B6, C, A, and E. There are trace amounts of other vitamins as well. One tablespoon of basil contains 47mg of calcium, 55mg of potassium, 15mg of manganese, and 1.89mg of iron. For example, the amount of calcium you get from one glass of milk is the same as two teaspoons of basil.
I’m not disputing basil is a powerhouse of nutritional value, but does that translate into the same benefits for dogs? No-one knows because there have been no studies on its effect on dogs over an extended period.
Nutritional Benefits Of Basil
In this section, I want to discuss what we know about basil and its nutritional values in more depth. Basil is one part of the mint family, and the oils and extracts of basil contain antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Sweet basil is the most common variety of the herb and adds a distinctive flavor to many well-known dishes such as pesto, salads, pizza, etc. Asian cooking uses a massive amount of basil in various dishes, and one type of basil known as Thai basil is prevalent.
In the west, sweet basil is what you’ll predominantly find in grocery stores. People who know basil well can tell the different varieties by their fragrance. Another variety of basil that’s hugely popular is holy basil. This variety is a popular choice in Ayurvedic medicines.
There are claims that basil provides nutritional values as herbal medicine and as essential oils. Two tablespoons of fresh basil contain 27% RDA of vitamin K, which is very useful. However, there is more vitamin K in kale and spinach.
As another example, sweet basil contains high eugenol levels; this is where the powerful smell originates. Citrus basils such as lime and lemon have limonene. Limenone and eugenol are said to possess antioxidant properties.
What Can Basil Do For Dogs?
With all the studies and reviews discussed above, it’s little wonder then that we want to apply the same benefits to our dogs. If you can give your dog a snack either in a fresh or dried form with antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties, why shouldn’t you?
1. Can Basil Prevent Cellular Damage In Dogs?
Antioxidants help destroy free radicals that can damage body cells. Cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and more are linked to oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Because basil has antioxidant properties, can it destroy free radicals that damage a dog’s cells? There is some evidence that it does in humans, so hopefully, this potential can be the same with dogs.
2. Protection Against Cancer
Similar to cellular damage can basil’s antioxidant properties help prevent cancers in dogs. There is some evidence to suggest that it might work in animals.
A review undertaken and published in 2013 attempted to ascertain if holy basil could help prevent cancer. The authors of the study claim that phytochemicals present in holy basil may help prevent oral, liver, lung, and skin cancers.
There have been many additional reviews and studies concerning basil in the last seven to eight years for a wide range of severe diseases such as protection against skin aging, reducing blood sugar levels, cardiovascular health support, boosting mental health, reducing inflammation and swelling, and fighting infection.
3. Liver Health And Basil
A study concerning rats in 2015 sought to prove that powdered antioxidants that included holy basil would benefit liver injury.
4. Basil’s Anti-Inflammatory Benefits For Dogs
Should basil’s anti-inflammatory benefits transfer over to dogs, it could protect your dog from serious health issues such as arthritis.
It might even be more beneficial for a dog than the prescribed medicines for arthritis which tend to be painkillers and not a treatment that tries to help control the disease. Beta-caryophyllene (also known as BCP, β-caryophyllene, caryophyllene) is a terpene found in large amounts in basil. BCP will bind with the body’s CB2 receptors, which regulate inflammation.
5. Basil’s Calming Benefits For Dogs
We know dogs can suffer from anxiety just like humans. There can be many reasons for this; for example, they get upset when they are left alone, or if a dog is in a situation unfamiliar to them, they play up. It can lead to different kinds of behavioral issues. Basil may be a way to help calm them.
Some dogs cannot get over this anxiety or nervousness without being given medicines prescribed by their vet. Basil may be able to help in mood disorders in dogs. CB2 receptors can also be responsible for anxiety and depression, so BCP can help alleviate these symptoms.
6. Basil May Help Prolong A Dog’s Lifespan
Every living creature ages, and as they do, they can develop diseases or health issues that shorten their lifespan. If we’re saying that basil can help protect against severe conditions such as liver, heart disease, and cancers, it follows this might, in turn, increase a dog’s life expectancy.
Arthritis, cellular damage, life-threatening diseases all advance aging; if your dog can gain protection from these health issues, it might increase their lifespan and quality of life in their later years.
What’s The Best Way For Dogs To Eat Basil?
1. Added To Dog Food
It’s best to add basil to your dog’s usual daily food. A couple of leaves broken up and sprinkled over his food should do the trick. Of course, basil cannot be a dish by itself; it wouldn’t sustain your dog. A well-balanced diet contains all the necessary vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and fat your dog requires. Adding basil in small amounts is just a supplement to his diet.
2. Your Dog Needs Only Small Amounts Of Basil
The old saying “ too much of a good thing” applies to basil. Your dog only needs a minimal amount in his food. Too much, and your dog may suffer from digestive issues, skin problems, and possibly even allergic reactions.
Dogs Can Be Allergic To Basil
Feeding anything new to your dog should be done slowly and cautiously. You don’t know until your dog tries a different food what will happen, and your dog might suffer allergic reactions to basil and herbs in general.
Start with a tiny amount and carefully watch for any allergic reaction. You might see your dog sneezing a lot, developing itchy ears, or scratching his body. If he has a problem digesting basil, he may vomit or have diarrhea. Should your dog have any of these types of reactions, stop feeding him basil. You must provide this information to your vet, so he has a record of the allergy symptoms.
Is Basil Toxic To Your Dog?
Basil is not toxic to your dog, but there are provisos. It must be offered in only tiny amounts, and you should give it as food in your dog’s regular diet. According to WebMD basil, may be unsafe to take by mouth as medicine because it contains estragole, a chemical that may increase liver cancer risk. Large amounts, even as food, can cause digestive upsets (diarrhea and vomiting). Also, look for any signs of an allergic reaction.
If you know that your dog is not allergic to herbs and only feed him basil in minimal amounts, your dog can eat basil. Basil isn’t toxic to dogs, and if your dog doesn’t have any digestive or allergic problems with eating tiny quantities, then there may be some health benefits.
The problem occurs if you have never fed herbs to your dog; you can’t know if he’s allergic until you try. You might be putting him through some distress by giving him basil. Can dogs eat basil? You have to ask yourself if any possible benefits outweigh the risks.