Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread?

April Saylor
By April Saylor. Reviewed by Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP on Aug. 16, 2023
white dog begging a little boy for food at the kitchen table

NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be OK for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors, such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

There’s nothing like the sweet, spiced, and slightly bitter scent of gingerbread in the oven to kick off a day of holiday baking. And because it’s so tasty, it’s understandable that pet parents might want to share the gingerbread joy with their pups. But can dogs eat gingerbread safely?

When it comes to your standard gingerbread recipes—namely, ones that contain nutmeg—the answer is no, gingerbread is not OK for dogs. But there are plenty of dog-friendly gingerbread options to choose from instead.

Let’s dive into the reasons why dogs should not eat gingerbread and highlight some safer alternatives that they can safely enjoy.

Is Gingerbread Bad for Dogs?

While gingerbread is made with ginger, a spice known for its health benefits, there are other ingredients in this sweet treat that aren’t suitable for canine consumption. Traditional gingerbread recipes are made with harmful ingredients that can make dogs sick, including sugar, butter, and nutmeg. 

The nutmeg is the biggest risk for pups who get into gingerbread. Nutmeg is toxic to dogs and can cause hallucinations, seizures, and even be fatal when ingested in large amounts. 

The sugar found in gingerbread and its accompanying icing or candy decorations is not good for dogs, either. But it’s especially problematic for dogs who have too much sugar, too often, as this can lead to weight gain and even diabetes in dogs over time. 

Butter isn’t toxic to dogs, but it is bad for them. Eating treats and snacks that contain butter can cause digestive upset as well as serious problems like pancreatitis

Can Dogs Eat Gingerbread Cookies?

Gingerbread cookies are essentially the same as gingerbread, but in a different form. They too are typically made with the same harmful ingredients mentioned above, making them equally hazardous to your dog’s health. Even in small amounts, these cookies can cause vomiting and diarrhea

What To Do if Your Dog Ate Gingerbread

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen—especially during the excitement of the holiday season when dogs are more likely to get into things they shouldn’t. But the risk of harm does depend on the amount of gingerbread that’s eaten. For instance, a large dog (like a Great Dane) who eats one small gingerbread cookie may be just fine, while a much smaller dog (like a Chihuahua) who eats the same amount could get sick. 

If your dog has eaten gingerbread, keep an eye on them and watch for any of the following symptoms: 

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Lethargy

  • Trembling

  • Seizures

  • Changes in behavior

Call the vet if your dog starts showing any of these signs after eating gingerbread or gingerbread cookies. They’ll be able to advise on whether it’s a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

However, if your dog has consumed a very large amount of gingerbread or appears disoriented, begins hallucinating, or has an increased heart rate or blood pressure, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 and head to the nearest veterinary emergency clinic right away. These are signs of myristicin toxicity, which can happen if your dog ingests a significant amount of nutmeg, which is found in many gingerbreads.

What To Feed Your Dog Instead of Gingerbread

While gingerbread is a no-go for dogs, there are plenty of other store-bought and homemade sweet snacks they can enjoy safely. 

Homemade Holiday Dog Treats

There are a ton of DIY dog holiday recipes inspired by classic cookies, but without the harmful ingredients. The next time you’re in the mood for a homemade holiday cookie or sweet treat and want to share with your canine companion, try one of these: 

Store-Bought Holiday Dog Treats

No time to make your own? There are plenty of dog-friendly gingerbread (or gingerbread-esque!) cookies that are safe to share with your pooch.

Just remember that as with any new food or treat (even the healthy kinds!) moderation is key. Talk to your vet about any concerns you have about your dog’s diet or whether they can eat certain foods safely. A vet will be able to offer personalized recommendations based on your pup’s health, age, weight, and history.

Featured Image: iStock/Pekic

April Saylor


April Saylor

Freelance Writer

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