Can Dogs Eat Basil? Is Basil Safe or Poisonous for Dogs?

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Can Dogs Eat Basil

Finding a healthy diet for a dog is a critical way of improving their life and ensuring it is as happy as possible. For example, you may want to experiment with healthy herbs and ingredients that make a dog’s diet more diverse. Basil is just one herb you may want to try. This unique plant has a potent taste and various health benefits that may be worth investigating for your dog.

Can Dogs Eat Basil?

dog sniffing herbs

Dogs’ stomachs aren’t always adaptable to many human spices, as they are primarily carnivorous. Though they have more adaptable diets than cats (who can truly only digest meat), dogs mostly prefer meat-based foods and only eat vegetables or fruits if meat is not available or as a way of expanding their diet. As a result, their digestive system isn’t always compatible with herbs.

However, basil is a more or less safe plant that some dogs will enjoy. Its potent aroma appeals to many dogs and will blend well with various types of foods and dishes, helping to expand your pup’s dietary range. However, fresh basil leaves may be a bit much for some breeds or individual dogs, as they may be too sharp in their taste. Some dogs may simply turn their nose up at green foods, as well.

A little fresh basil powder may be the best way to feed your dog this herb. Sprinkle it on top of their food or on their treats to see how they react to it. Unfortunately, there isn’t a breed that responds well universally to basil. It’s down to the individual dog, as some will like this herb while others will not. A little experimentation and working with your dog’s vet should make this experience easier to figure out.

Thankfully, dogs should digest basil better than cats and get more of its nutrients. These include a heavy dose of vitamin K, which is a vital nutrient for many dogs. Most of its other vitamins and minerals are present in trace amounts, though extra nutrition is good for dogs. Beyond vitamins, basil also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements that may be beneficial for a pup.

For more info, watch this helpful video on more helpful herbs for dogs:

What Happens if a Dog Eats Basil?

If your dog hasn’t eaten basil before or has little experience with plant-based foods, you may want to take it slow when introducing them to this herb. It’s not likely that they’ll experience any dramatic side effects. However, some dogs may be intolerant to basil or other similar herbs and may develop a few common symptoms. For example, some dogs may experience:

  • Diarrhea – Basil may cause a dog’s stomach to work too much and create very loose and common stools that may end up in your home.
  • Vomiting – The potent flavor of basil may be too much for a dog’s stomach at a high level. As a result, they may pass it out orally to remove it from their system.
  • Allergic Reactions – Some dogs may be allergic to basil, which you won’t know until they try it for the first time. These reactions can be pretty potent and problematic for their health.

Common allergic symptoms include itchy skin, hives, rashes, troubles breathing, fainting, and even unconsciousness. If your dog develops an allergic reaction to basil, take them to your veterinarian right away. You might even want to get them tested for basil allergies before introducing it to their diet. In this way, you can cover your bases and avoid serious health complications with your pup.

You may even notice your dog passing whole basil leaves or experiencing a reaction to basil powder due to other ingredients. For example, some basil powder may include garlic, a food that is dangerous for dogs. Always read the ingredients list carefully when choosing any new meals for your dog. Doing so will help to minimize the potential adverse reactions your dog may experience.

How Much Basil Can I Give my Dog?

If you’re planning on changing your dog’s diet by adding basil, try to err on the side of caution. Giving them small doses will make it easier to work up to more if they end up liking it. Giving them smaller amounts also helps to cut back on any potential stomach issues. If your canine companion’s stomach reacts to a small amount of this herb, it doesn’t need any more of it in its life.

That’s why we created this simple guide to dosing basil for your dog. We based our advice on a dog’s overall size. The suggestions here should be considered the top end or maximum amount that you can give your pup. Work your way up to that amount if your dog enjoys basil and never goes over. If you see adverse reactions, decrease your dosage from the following three levels:

  • Small Dogs – Give your small pups (under 15 pounds or so) no more than a pinch of basil every day. Any more may cause stomach problems or add too many calories to their diet.
  • Medium Dogs – A half teaspoon of basil is all that medium dog breeds (15-40 pounds) need for their diet. Some heavier medium-sized dogs may tolerate more basil.
  • Large Dogs – Any dog over 40-50 pounds is likely to tolerate a teaspoon of basil with their daily meals easily. Try to pick an amount based on your dog’s overall size and diet.

Just because your dog can eat up to a certain amount of basil every day doesn’t mean that they need it that often. Consider basil more of a treat for your pup instead of a staple meal. Depending on their diet and reaction to it, they may enjoy a little bit with their food once a week or less. Dog treats should never be more than 10% of their diet, so make sure that you follow this guideline.

If you plan on serving fresh basil from your garden or a farmer’s market or superstore, you should wash it before you give it to your dog. After all, your dog can react to the same kind of parasites, bacteria, and mold that may grow on basil and other plants. However, you don’t need to wash it long. Instead, rinse it with cool water for several seconds, and your basil should be safe to serve to dogs.

What Herbs are Toxic to Dogs?


The American Kennel Club created a comprehensive list of herbs that may be toxic to dogs. Thankfully, basil is not on this list. However, many more are, and they need to be carefully watched to ensure that your pup doesn’t end up eating something that they shouldn’t. In addition, some of these herbs may end up in basil powders or basil-based meals, which could cause complications with your dog’s health.

As a result, you need to make sure that you understand a few herbs and plants that may be dangerous to your dog’s health. These items may be in your fresh basil garden where your dog likes to root around. When trying to eat basil (if they enjoy it), they may end up eating many of these herbs by mistake. Just a few that you need to watch out for in your dog’s diet include:

  • Garlic – The most common culprit and issue with basil powders, garlic is added to various basil dishes and may cause severe reactions in a dog that can be pretty unhealthy.
  • Holly – While not likely to end up in basil powder, holly may grow near basil plants outdoors and cause diarrhea, vomiting, and severe digestive system problems.
  • Hydrangea – These flowers may also grow up near basil plants and, with an alluring taste, could cause lethargy, diarrhea, and severe distress in your pup.
  • Walnuts – Walnuts can produce reactions in dogs, mainly if they eat a large amount. Wild walnuts are particularly problematic because they often contain mold.
  • Some Fruits – Although dogs tolerate and enjoy many sweet fruits, those with pits (such as peaches and plums) can be problematic for their health.

If your dog eats any of these problematic herbs or flowers, you should contact the American Kennel Club or your veterinarian to learn more. The Pet Poison Helpline (call them at 855-764-7661) can provide some help, as well, by diagnosing the situation and providing you with advice. In addition, you may be asked to collect your dog’s vomit or stool, so be prepared for this unpleasant action.

Just as importantly, you may want to learn how to identify these plants and remove them from around your home. We understand that this might mean eliminating attractive bushes or even trees from your yard. However, there’s no reason you should put your canine companion’s health at risk if you can avoid it. If you’re not ready to remove these growths, consider fencing them off instead.

Can Dogs Eat Basil Pesto?

spoonful of pesto

Pesto is a tasty sauce that mixes well with a variety of different meals, such as pasta and even sandwiches. This sauce primarily uses basil as an ingredient to create a very stirring and fresh array of flavors that make pesto delicious for a wide variety of meals. But, unfortunately, your canine buddy should stay away from pesto because it is simply not a healthy option for their diet.

That’s because most pesto uses a large amount of garlic to boost its flavor and appeal. As we’ve mentioned before, garlic is dangerous to dogs and should be avoided. That said, you can make a homemade pesto focused entirely on basil and without garlic. This pesto recipe will be safe for your dog and should blend well with just about any meal or dietary plan, as long as you also remove oil and cheese from the recipe.

Pesto may also contain a high amount of pine nuts, which are also unhealthy for a dog’s diet. Check the labels of any store-bought pesto and avoid any that contain these ingredients. Unfortunately, few pesto sauces will be suitable for dogs, which is why it is best to just keep it out of their diet. Talk to your vet immediately or contact pet poison services if your dog does eat pesto sauces with garlic.

Watch for signs of weakness, lethargy, falling, fainting, and even red urine or bowel movements. These symptoms all indicate that your dog may be experiencing anemia caused by garlic or other ingredients in pesto. Don’t wait too long to get help for your pet: an emergency veterinarian may be able to help you with this process and give you the assistance necessary to keep your pup safe.

Dog-friendly pesto varieties may be available from your veterinarian’s office or pet food stores. You can also create a similar pesto-style sauce using just basil and serve it to your dog. It may not have the same kind of zip that you’d get from your traditional pest sauce. But it will be safe for your dog as long as you moderate how much they receive and don’t go over the dosage suggested above.

Protect Your Pup From This Problem

dog with no appetite

As you can see, basil is a reasonably safe herb that may blend well with your dog’s dietary needs and health demands. Understand that tastes will vary between dogs, with some loving basil and others turning their nose up at it. Please don’t force your dog to eat something that it doesn’t enjoy. After all, dogs typically eat just about anything, and if a pup turns down a food offer, they must genuinely dislike it.