Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread?

dog with food bowl
Jaromir Chalabala/

Written by Katelynn Sobus

Published: January 5, 2023

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Who doesn’t love the smell of gingerbread in the oven or making a gingerbread house during the holidays? If you have extra cookies or your dog has torn apart the gingerbread house, you might wonder: is gingerbread safe for dogs?

This article will discuss why you shouldn’t feed your dog gingerbread, what to do if your dog gets into it, and more.

Is Gingerbread Toxic to Dogs?

Homemade gingerbread cookies in the form of fabulous gingerbread men and christmas trees in blue cup in new year composition

Gingerbread contains nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs.

Gingerbread contains nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs. However, since it contains so little nutmeg, your dog is unlikely to suffer from poisoning.

If it eats a lot of gingerbread, especially if it’s a small dog, you might see symptoms. Otherwise, you may just notice an upset stomach.

Gingerbread is also high in sugar and fat, so it’s not a healthy treat for your dog, regardless. Dogs don’t need excess sugars in their diet, and foods that are high in fat can cause pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is an incredibly painful condition. The dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed, causing symptoms like severe stomach upset, decreased appetite and energy levels, and increased thirst.

Pancreatitis is an emergency and can be deadly if left untreated. Though it has many causes, including cancers, masses, and injuries, avoiding fatty foods is the best way to prevent pancreatitis in dogs.

The last thing to keep in mind is that any new food can cause stomach upset, especially unhealthy foods like gingerbread.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Gingerbread?

If your dog ate gingerbread, the largest risks are nutmeg toxicity and pancreatitis. Both are emergent situations and require immediate veterinary attention.

Symptoms of nutmeg toxicity include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Luckily, it tends to take more nutmeg to poison a dog than you’ll typically find in gingerbread. However, it’s still important to monitor your pup for symptoms, particularly if it’s small or has eaten a lot of gingerbread!

Because gingerbread is high in fat, it can also cause pancreatitis. The symptoms of pancreatitis are:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst or urination

If your dog eats gingerbread, monitor it for the above symptoms. If your dog has eaten a lot of gingerbread or is showing symptoms of poisoning or pancreatitis, visit an emergency vet clinic right away.

You can also call a pet poison hotline for help to determine whether your dog needs to see a vet. The vet will be able to give you exact information while considering your dog’s size, the ingredients in the gingerbread, and how much it ate.

Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread Without Nutmeg?

Gingerbread cookie on a fir tree. Beautiful background with copy space.

Nutmeg isn’t the only risk to gingerbread, as it also contains excess sugar and fat.

Unfortunately, nutmeg isn’t the only risk to gingerbread. Therefore, gingerbread without nutmeg still won’t be healthy for your pup.

As we discussed above, gingerbread contains excess sugar and fat. Excess sugar isn’t good for dogs, especially in high amounts or if your dog has health issues like diabetes.

While fat is a necessary part of every dog’s diet, it should be getting enough of it in its dog food. Foods that are high in fat can cause pancreatitis, which requires emergency treatment.

It’s not worth the risk, especially since it’ll be harder to find a vet around the holidays–and who wants to spend their holiday in a vet clinic, anyhow?

Alternatives to Gingerbread for Dogs

If you want a safe cookie to give your dog, try buying some holiday-themed dog treats. Or, since ginger isn’t toxic, you can include it in some safe, homemade treats. Just leave out the sugars and toxic spices.

Remember to always feed treats in moderation. They should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet.

Of course, you can use an estimate–and going over a bit for one day during the holidays, so long as you’re usually under this threshold, will be okay. But remember that too many treats can upset your dog’s stomach, just like a kid eating too much candy on Halloween!

When it comes to gingerbread houses, you can also make dog-safe versions. Use something other than icing to hold them together, to avoid that excess sugar intake.

Also, remember that your dog shouldn’t eat the whole house, so it can be wasteful–unless you have some other puppy friends to share with!

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About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

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