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Can Dogs Eat Cinnamon? Yes, If You Weigh The Risks

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5 min read

Updated - May 21st, 2021

The good news is cinnamon is not toxic to dogs and holds some pretty amazing health benefits when given in proper amounts. But that’s not to say anything with cinnamon is okay to offer your pleading-eyed canine begging for a taste of your cinnamon scone. There are some concerns and precautions you need to know when offering this sweet and tasty spice to your dog.

Let’s dive into the wonders of cinnamon and the things you need to know to keep your dog safe.

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is from the inner bark on a genus-species of trees known as Cinnamomum. We can find two types of that sweet-smelling spice used in many recipes – Cassia and Ceylon.

Cassia Cinnamon comes from Indonesia and China. The sticks have a rougher texture and are dark brown with a strong taste. This type of cinnamon is readily found in most grocery stores and inexpensive. Cassia has the highest amount of coumarin and is not recommended for dogs.

Ceylon Cinnamon, called “true” cinnamon, is harder to find and more expensive. It comes from Sri Lanka, is light brown, and has a sweeter taste to it. With lower coumarin, we consider Ceylon safer for dogs.

Coumarin is a natural compound found in cinnamon that is toxic in large amounts. Its purpose is to keep predators away from the trees and it’s very bitter with a sweet vanilla smell.

Health benefits of cinnamon

Cinnamon offers many wonderful health benefits for your dog, and you as well. The secret to these amazing benefits is most likely because of cinnamaldehyde. Scientists believe this is the compound found in cinnamon responsible for health benefits. 

Just remember that while it’s not toxic, there are amounts that are too much for your dog, so pay close attention when feeding it.

Antioxidants: This spice is rich in antioxidants, which protect against cell damage from environmental stresses and slow down cognitive aging. The antioxidants support brain function, improving focus and memory, which is helpful for aging dogs that may have dementia symptoms.

Anti-Fungal Properties: Dogs with allergies or who suffer from yeast infections can benefit from cinnamon. It inhibits the growth of Salmonella, Listeria, and Candida Albicans. Another benefit is food preservation. Sprinkling cinnamon on food prior to refrigeration will prolong the shelf life.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Cinnamon can reduce swelling and inflammation in dogs with arthritis, sore muscles, and joint pain.

Heart Health: A study on the effects of cinnamon in dogs with heart and high blood pressure issues showed significantly lowered heart rate and systolic blood pressure in dogs that received controlled doses of cinnamon. Check with your vet if you think adding cinnamon to your dog’s food could be beneficial.

Blood Sugar Regulation: Studies have also shown that cinnamon, given in small doses, can lower blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. It slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream after meals high in carbohydrates like kibble can be. If your dog has diabetes, check with your vet prior to offering cinnamon.

How much can cinnamon I feed my dog?

The Pet Poison Helpline states a teaspoon of cinnamon has no toxic effect on your dog. Smaller breeds need smaller amounts than larger breeds, of course; and only offer cinnamon oils in tiny amounts because of their high concentration levels.

If your dog ingests cinnamon from the pantry or chews on a stick of cinnamon, don’t panic; it’s probably okay, but call the hotline or speak to your vet to be safe.

Risks from Cinnamon

Cinnamon comes in many forms – cinnamon sticks, essential oils, and the most common, ground into powder. Any form of cinnamon can cause digestive issues like a stomach-ache, and mouth irritation (just like it does for humans). 

Remember all those cinnamon challenges on YouTube a while ago? The same reactions can happen to our dogs when they ingest too much. When your dog inhales ground cinnamon, mouth irritation, coughing, choking, and difficulty breathing can occur. Consult a vet if your dog inhales cinnamon powder and shows these symptoms of cinnamon overdose:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Liver disease
  • Changes in heart rate

All of these require an immediate vet visit.

Foods containing cinnamon, including baked goods like cinnamon rolls (YUM!), are plentiful in our kitchen and pantries. The high fats and many extra ingredients in these foods, like butter, sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder, xylitol (which is a very toxic artificial sweetener), raisins, some nuts, and nutmeg are bad for dogs. Obesity, stomach upsets, and pancreatitis can develop when your dog eats human food in large quantities.

Nutmeg and Cinnamon

Cinnamon and nutmeg are two different species that come from the same parent plant, but they’re very different. Cinnamon is not toxic to your pooch in small amounts, but nutmeg is.

Nutmeg contains myristicin, a compound also found in dill, parsley, and peyote. A small amount won’t cause toxicity, but no one really knows how small that amount is per breed of dog. For that reason, it’s best to avoid any nutmeg in your dog’s treat offerings.

Side-effects of ingesting nutmeg can last up to 48 hours and occur with as little as 1-3 tablespoons of the spice. Nutmeg toxicity symptoms:

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

If your dog ingests nutmeg, consult with your veterinarian immediately. Pumpkin believes you should never have to decide whether to take your dog to the vet. Their “Best In Show” pet insurance can help take the financial worry out of vet visits when you need it most.

Feeding cinnamon safely

For most dogs, a half teaspoon of cinnamon fed now and then has some health benefits. There are also many commercial treats and dog foods that include cinnamon in their formulas at safe levels.The internet has a few DIY options for you too! Like these:

Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Dog Treats

Cinnamon and Honey Dog Treats

Oat Cinnamon and Apple Dog Treats

So, in conclusion, if you’re wondering whether cinnamon is safe for dogs or not; the answer is yes. Given in small amounts, there are many health benefits your dog can enjoy when you add this tasty, sweet spice to your dog’s diet. Just remember to avoid all the extra ingredients your dog doesn’t need and be sure to check with your vet first if you think a therapeutic dose may help your dog with health problems.

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!