Is Nutmeg Bad for Dogs?

Besides telling you if dogs can eat nutmeg, we will cover more on this popular spice that is not all good in large quantities.

Overview

Nutmeg refers to the seed or spice obtained from various species of genus Myristica in the family Myristicaceae with Myristica fragrans (true or fragrant nutmeg), a tropical evergreen plant with dark leaves, the most commonly cultivated. Please don’t confuse it with California nutmeg or Torreya californica as the two are not closely related, and the latter isn’t used as a spice.

The spice, which comes from Myristica fragrans seeds, has a pungent fragrance and a warm bittersweet taste and is used in baked goods, confectionaries, meats, sauces, vegetables, beverages (eggnog), among other dishes.

The seeds are also a source of nutmeg butter and essential oil used in pharmaceuticals like making cough syrup, toothpaste, and perfumery or as a spice instead of nutmeg. However, in its pure form, this essential oil is associated with myristicin poisoning.

Furthermore, Myristica fragrans is a source of mace spice (made using the reddish seed covering) with a similar but delicate taste, and you can use the fruit covering (pericarp) jam or fragrant candies.

Healthwise, nutmeg is very beneficial as is has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, may boost libido, and has benefits to the heart and helps in boosting mood and enhancing blood sugar control. (1)

Can dogs eat nutmeg

Toxicity to humans

In its usual usage as a spice, freshly ground nutmeg powder and its oil are harmless. However, excessive consumption may result in contact dermatitis, interact with anxiolytic drugs, cause allergic reactions, or have psychoactive effects. These symptoms are attributed to myristicin and elemicin.

For instance, myristicin “can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain when consumed in large amounts,” notes Wikipedia. Also, side effects not limited to anxiety, delirium, headaches, nausea, confusion, anxiety, amnesia, dry mouth, eye irritation, dizziness may occur.

Finally, while its use as a culinary spice during pregnancy is safe, large doses may cause hallucinations, premature labor, miscarriage, or interact with some medicines used during labor to relieve pain. You better avoid it during pregnancy. Did you know it was once considered an abortifacient?

Can dogs eat nutmeg?

No. We don’t recommend dogs having nutmeg. However, if ingested in tiny quantities, such as your dog eating foods or diets whose recipes used usual amounts of this spice, he may not suffer any symptoms, even mild ones. Nevertheless, a few may suffer from mild diarrhea and vomiting.

On the other hand, a huge “amount of nutmeg is ingested, myristicin toxicity can cause symptoms including hallucinations, disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and possibly seizures,” warns Pet Poison Helpline. These symptoms may last up to two days.

While considered to cause moderate toxicity, the possible symptoms will depend on several factors, such as your dog’s general health status, weight, age, and size. Small dogs are likely to suffer severe symptoms than larger ones.

My dog ate nutmeg

If your dog eats a small amount of human food with this spice, a small piece of cookie or cake such as gingerbread, ginger snap, you don’t have to be worried since the low nutmeg concentration is unlikely any symptoms. Note that a lot of baked goods and cakes with nutmeg may cause mild to moderate symptoms.

However, should your dog eat a lot of this spice or drink nutmeg essential oil, which usually has 4-12% myristicin, call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number (888) 426-4435. Alternatively, you can also call  Pet Poison Helpline’s phone number (855) 764-7661 or your vet for further assistance and advice. Don’t try any home remedies.

Conclusion

Since excess amounts of nutmeg cause toxicity, keep all baked foods with this spice, containers carrying the spice, or its essential oil in closed cabinets.

Also, don’t forget to safely keep your chocolate, onion powder, xylitol, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, avocado, garlic, raisins, and other foodstuffs toxic to your pet.  

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