If your dog is taking an interest in something cinnamony your family is eating, you’re probably wondering if it's safe to let them have a bite. Cinnamon is a unique spice that poses a wealth of potential wellness benefits, and in some cases, it may be safe for your dog to consume. It all depends on the type of cinnamon, the amount of cinnamon, and the other ingredients in the treat. It’s also worth noting that there are plenty of other alternatives to give your dog a wellness boost!
The Two Types of Cinnamon
There are two unique types of cinnamon: cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon. They may taste similar, but they’re fundamentally different. Both types of cinnamon are the ground inner bark of trees. There are two types of cinnamon trees that grow in different parts of the world.
Cassia cinnamon, the most common type of cinnamon, isn’t safe for dogs. Ceylon cinnamon can be safe for dogs in small amounts.
Cassia cinnamon is the most common type of cinnamon and is the least expensive to produce. It’s almost never labeled as cassia cinnamon because it’s the standard type you’ll find in the spice aise of the grocery store under brands like McCormick. The general term “cinnamon” typically refers to cassia cinnamon, and it’s also the cinnamon that’s used in almost every pre-packaged, pre-produced cinnamon-inclusive food or drink item you’ll buy, like cinnamon buns, chai tea, and cinnamon raisin bread (which you should always keep out of reach of your pup — raisins are toxic to them!)
Cassia cinnamon is grown and harvested in Indonesia and China. This cinnamon is dark in color and very spicy. It’s high in a compound called coumarin, which is perfectly safe for humans but may increase the risk of tumor formation in animals. Dogs shouldn’t have cassia cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka. It’s lighter in color and naturally tastes a little bit sweeter than cassia cinnamon. Because it’s harder to come by, Ceylon cinnamon usually comes at a premium price point. It’s often clearly labeled as Ceylon cinnamon, and it’s commonly found in the supplement aisle versus the food aisle. You may also spot it as a featured ingredient in brunch cafes — if someone uses Ceylon cinnamon, they will be sure to market it in whatever product they’re selling.
Ceylon cinnamon’s coumarin levels are naturally much lower. This makes Ceylon cinnamon a safer alternative for animals.
The Benefits of Cinnamon for Dogs
Before giving your dog cinnamon, it’s important to speak with your vet. There may be some instances where cinnamon can provide additional support to dogs with specific wellness concerns. Cinnamon won’t replace veterinary care, but it can help to support the other efforts you take to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Cinnamon is an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Cinnamon acts as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants work to protect healthy cells in the brain and body from damage that can occur as a result of environmental pollutants or metabolic processes. Damaging cells, called free radicals, attempt to steal electrons from healthy cells. The antioxidant cells in cinnamon sacrifice their electrons instead, shielding healthy cells and allowing them to live their normal lifespan.
Cinnamon Has Holistic Wellness Properties
Cinnamon has been demonstrated to promote stable blood sugar levels and to support healthy blood pressure. Cinnamon isn’t capable of managing health conditions, but it may be a valuable addition to your dog’s wellness plan or a supportive preventative measure. Before giving your dog cinnamon for wellness concerns, speak to your veterinarian about its potential benefits and safe use in your dog’s diet.
Is Cinnamon Bad for Dogs in Large Amounts?
Powdered cinnamon is less concentrated than cinnamon oils or extracts. You should never give your dog essential oils of any kind. Large dogs can safely consume up to a teaspoon of cinnamon a day. For smaller dogs, a tiny pinch will suffice.
If your dog chews up your decorative cinnamon broom or finds a cinnamon stick, you probably don’t need to be concerned. Call your vet and ask for advice. If your vet believes it’s better to be safe than sorry, they may recommend that your dog come in for a check up.
How To Give Your Dog Cinnamon
Eating plain powdered cinnamon is unpleasant. Your dog won’t be interested in using cinnamon this way. Instead, sprinkle cinnamon on top of wet food. If your dog doesn’t like the way cinnamon tastes or smells, they may not eat it. That’s okay. Your dog doesn’t need cinnamon to be healthy, and there’s no reason to push cinnamon on a dog with a natural aversion.
You can also add cinnamon to your homemade dog treats. Cinnamon pairs well with ingredients like banana, sweet potato, oats, and pumpkin in dog treats. You can easily make your own dog treats from these ingredients and use cinnamon to up the antioxidant profile of your pup’s snacks.
How Often Should I Give My Dog Cinnamon?
As long as you’re providing your dog with a small amount of pure Ceylon cinnamon, your dog could have cinnamon as often as every day. That said, make sure to monitor your dog for any potential side effects.
Start by giving your dog cinnamon once or twice a week, leaving several days in between each serving. If your dog tolerates cinnamon well, you can provide it more frequently.
Does Cinnamon Cause Side Effects for Dogs?
Any food that isn’t specifically intended for dogs has the potential to cause side effects.
Whenever you introduce something new into your dog’s diet, you should always monitor your pet for side effects such as:
- Coughing, sneezing, or wheezing from consuming dry cinnamon
- Irritation or swelling to the mouth or gums
- Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Low blood sugar
- Lower heart rate
You can tell if your dog is coughing or is having tummy trouble. Lower heart rate and low blood sugar may not be obvious. That’s why it’s important to use cinnamon conservatively.
A very small amount fed infrequently may be beneficial, but large servings of cinnamon or cinnamon fed too frequently can cause side effects you won’t easily be able to identify.
Be Wary of Spice Blends and Prepared Foods with Cinnamon
Be certain that the cinnamon you’re using is pure Ceylon cinnamon. Cinnamon spice blends may contain added sugar or other spices — be on the lookout for “sugar-free” cinnamon blends, as these may contain the sugar-subsitute xylitol, which is toxic to dogs even in small amounts. Pumpkin spice is heavy on the cinnamon, but it also contains spices like nutmeg, which is dangerous for dogs to consume.
Prepared foods containing cinnamon, like cinnamon rolls and cinnamon raisin bread, will contain ingredients your dogs can’t have — raisins, for example, can be deadly in very small amounts for even huge dogs. Your dog should also avoid added sugar or an excessive amount of fat.
All of this said, there are treats specifically formulated for dogs that contain cinnamon. If you’re unable to prepare your dog’s treats at home, look for high quality dog treats made with Ceylon cinnamon at the pet supply store. This is the easiest way to assure that the snacks you’re giving your dog are safe.
Supporting Your Dog’s Wellness Without Cinnamon
If your primary interest in using cinnamon for your dog is to promote overall wellness, there are other options you can explore.
VETCBD Hemp believes that providing holistic support to your pet can help to improve their happiness and longevity. VETCBD Hemp’s American-grown, hemp-derived, pet-safe CBD tincture supports normal brain health, normal GI health, and joint mobility in dogs.
In addition to providing holistic support to the body, CBD also provides holistic support to the mind. CBD can help to promote a calm mood in dogs, which is especially useful during thunderstorms or fireworks when dogs may show signs of environmental distress.
Ask your vet about incorporating CBD into your dog’s wellness routine — it’ll bring a lot more benefit than those occasional sprinkles of cinnamon!