Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a popular herb used in many dishes. While people usually either love it or hate it, how do dogs feel about it? Can they enjoy some, or it is better if they avoid it?
Cilantro, also sometimes known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a popular herb used in cooking worldwide. You might know it, from eating it in a salad or with guacamole or salsa, in your favorite Mexican dish! Apart from adding a distinctive flavor to food, it is also a surprisingly good source of certain vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants for us humans. But, is it safe and healthy for dogs? Can dogs eat cilantro too? Can dogs get any benefit from eating it?
In this article we will discuss all the pros and cons of feeding cilantro to your dog, so that you can be better informed when deciding what to feed your beloved pooch.
Is it Safe for My Dog to Eat Cilantro?
It is totally normal to wonder if cilantro is ok to give to your dog, as it is important to be careful when feeding any herbs to a pet. Many herbs may actually cause health problems and some may even be toxic to your dog.
So, is cilantro safe? The answer is YES; dogs can eat cilantro.
If fed in moderate amounts it is safe and may also provide some health benefits to your dog too.
What Are the Possible Health Benefits of Cilantro?
Cilantro leaves are a good source of vitamins A, K and C, as well as the minerals iron, manganese and potassium. Another advantage is that it is also extremely low in calories, and has no cholesterol.
With that in mind, let’s check out some of the possible health benefits(1) this herb can offer your dog:
Help fight off infections
Various studies have found that cilantro has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity.(2) Therefore, it can potentially help your dog fight off infections, especially those within it’s digestive system.
Improve your dog’s breath
This herb can be used as a natural way to clean your dog’s mouth, freshen your dog’s breath and help prevent gum infections. This may be useful if your dog really doesn’t like having his teeth brushed or if you want to try a natural method to improve his breath.
A great source of antioxidants
Cilantro contains lots of potent antioxidants.(3) These help to defend the cells in the body from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. These amazing little antioxidants may also help to prevent certain diseases and cancers.
Help maintain healthy skin and vision
Cilantro is a great source of vitamin A, which apart from acting as an antioxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy skin and is essential for vision too.
A great source of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is essential for the normal blood clotting process in your dog’s body. Cilantro is jam packed with this vitamin, which helps the blood clot and prevent excessive bleeding if your dog cuts himself or has a wound. Vitamin K also plays an important role in maintaining strong, healthy bones too!
Help with digestive issues
In traditional medicine, cilantro has been used for hundreds of years to help settle an upset stomach and other digestive issues in humans. It can also be given as a natural remedy to aid dogs with sensitive digestive systems, an upset stomach or those dogs that suffer from excess gas. So, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, or is prone to gas, you could try adding a little bit of this herb, to naturally aid his digestive system.
Now that we have covered all the possible benefits of feeding cilantro to your dog, lets discuss any possible risks associated with it too.
Are There Any Risks?
There is a small chance that your dog might be allergic to cilantro, just like some people can have an allergy to it too. It isn’t very common, but that doesn’t mean that it wont happen. Therefore, it is always important when introducing a new food, such as cilantro, to only offer your dog a tiny amount, to ensure he/she has no allergic reaction.
An allergic reaction can appear in many different forms, from a mild skin rash, to an upset stomach (vomiting or diarrhea) to more severe symptoms such as swelling of the face and body. If you notice any puffiness or swelling of the face of your dog after it has eaten something new, it is best to take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
What Might Happen if My Dog Eats Too Much Cilantro?
Most commonly, if you give your dog too much cilantro it will cause your dog to have mild digestive trouble with nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Also, if you suddenly introduce a large amount of cilantro into your dog’s normal meal, he will probably be quite surprised and less likely to eat it.
Will My Dog Like Cilantro?
This is one of those herbs with a very distinct flavor, that often divides people into those that really love it and those that really hate it. Dogs are often the same, with some dogs eating it without a problem, and other dogs refusing their food if it is added to their meal.
The only way to know if your dog will like cilantro is to try adding it to his normal meal. It is always best to add a tiny bit at first, then if your dog doesn’t seem to mind the new flavor in his food, you could slowly increase the amount.
However, how much cilantro should you add? And can you give your dog too much cilantro in his food? Read on to find out some specific guidelines to help you decide how much of this herb to safely add to your dog’s diet, and the best way to serve it.
How Much Cilantro Should I Feed My Dog?
It is always important to remember that when you are introducing a new food to your dog’s diet, it should be introduced in small amounts and very slowly. This allows you to check for any allergic reactions and help prevent an upset stomach.
When it comes to cilantro, a pinch mixed into their normal meal, is a safe starting point. If after a few days, your dog seems fine with this amount, then you can slowly increase it to full teaspoon of fresh cilantro mixed into the meal a couple of times a week. You really shouldn’t have to give much more than that.
The Importance of a Good Quality, Well Balanced Diet!
First and foremost, your dog should eat a good quality, well balanced, complete dog food. This could be a dry or wet, home made or commercial diet.
It’s understandable that sometimes you might want to add extra variety and flavor to your dog’s diet. This can be done through healthy treats or suitable and safe vegetables or herbs. If you want to add additional supplements such as cilantro, you really only need to give a little bit a couple of times a week, with his normal food.
Talk to your veterinarian if you need more information or advice regarding your dog’s diet and adding supplements.
What Type of Cilantro: Leaves, Seeds or Powder?
Cilantro is available as fresh leaves, often sold as a whole plant or just a fluffy bunch of stalks and leaves. Often the seeds and the dried powder are called coriander, and are available in the spice aisle of most supermarkets.
The fresh leaves contain higher levels of vitamins, while coriander powder and seeds contain much lower levels of vitamins but much higher levels of minerals. There seems to be more health benefits from feeding the fresh cilantro leaves.
How Should I Serve Cilantro?
The fresh cilantro leaves can be chopped up and mixed into your dog’s normal food, or sprinkled on top if he doesn’t seem to mind the taste. With a fussy dog, you could try a pinch of the coriander powder instead, or the chopped leaves may need to be mixed with something tasty that he likes, such as meat.
Cilantro is commonly found in guacamole and salsa or added to many types of Indian curries. These are definitely NOT suitable to give your dog. Only give plain, fresh, cilantro leaves or plain coriander powder.
If your dog really doesn’t like the taste of cilantro, and turns his nose up at his normal meal when it is added, then it is best not to force it. Continually offering your dog something that he or she doesn’t like, could even cause your dog to go off his food. Imagine you were forced to eat something you didn’t really like- it wouldn’t be very nice!
Cilantro is a good source of vitamins A, C and K and the minerals iron, manganese and potassium. If your dog eats a good quality, well balanced dog food then it is unlikely he will be lacking in these essential vitamins and minerals. However, we understand that sometimes you might want to supplement and add flavor to your dog’s food.
Cilantro is a safe and healthy supplement to feed your dog, if given in moderate amounts. It might even have some health benefits for your dog, such as freshening his breath, helping with digestive issues and helping maintain healthy skin and eyesight. It is also jam packed with potent antioxidants which can help prevent certain cancers and diseases!
Just remember, that it is best to introduce a new food very slowly, to ensure that your dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction or any stomach upset after eating it. If your dog eats too much cilantro, it can cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Generally, a little bit of cilantro, mixed into your dog’s food a couple of times a week is sufficient. If in any doubt about your dog’s diet and supplementations, then ask your veterinarian for advice.
Hope you found this article interesting and informative. If so, feel free to spread the word!
This article has been written by Dr Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.
Margarita graduated from the University of Liverpool, earning a Bachelor in Veterinary Science with distinction. She worked in small animal and equine practice for a few years, before choosing to focus solely on companion animals. She has developed a special interest in internal medicine and ophthalmology.
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