Can Dogs Eat Nutmeg? (How Much Is Too Much)

Can Dogs Eat Nutmeg? Photo of a dog looking at nutmeg spice.

A lot of seemingly harmless human foods are actually dangerous for dogs, even in small quantities. Is nutmeg one of them that you should add to the “no” list? Read on to find out!

Nutmeg is a dangerous spice for dogs since it contains an active chemical called myristicin, which can be toxic. In most recipes, however, the amount of nutmeg is so low that toxicity isn’t something to be too concerned about. Below, we’ll go over what makes nutmeg so dangerous, when you should worry, and how to spot a dog who’s had too much nutmeg!

What happens if a dog eats nutmeg?

If he’s had nutmeg in cookie or pie form, in just a bit or two, you’ll most likely find that there’s no problem. The odds are that he’s not had enough of it to cause much of a problem. If he’s had extract or has found his way into the bottle of nutmeg, however, you may find that he will be dealing with some serious digestive and health-related side effects! We’ll go into detail about that a little later!

How is myristicin dangerous?

The danger in nutmeg comes from the chemical myristicin. Even in small quantities, this can create severe, potentially life-threatening symptoms in dogs. Did you know that humans can actually get high from myristicin? Now imagine the same portioning in your dog! It’s not so hard to see the danger, is it?

Where should I look for nutmeg?

Nutmeg is in a lot of baking, especially store-bought goods. Generally, you’ll find nutmeg in recipes such as apple or pumpkin pie, gingerbread cookies, and bechamel sauce. A word of caution is that nutmeg, much like cinnamon, isn’t always listed separately as a spice! Sometimes it is just listed as “spices” in store-made goods. If you think it may possibly have nutmeg in it, you’ll want to be extra careful in portioning for your dog’s safety! 

Not all amounts are the same!

Just like when you are baking for humans, you’ll find that different forms of nutmeg are going to be different for your dog’s safety. 

For instance, powdered nutmeg is less dangerous than essential oil or extract when it comes to portioning. It takes more powdered or whole nutmegs to kill a dog, whereas the liquid form is much more concentrated and can kill dogs with much less (even just a few licks could do it).

How much nutmeg is toxic to dogs?

This depends on many factors, of course, including your dog’s size and the strength of the budget. However, the general rule of thumb is that a teaspoon of nutmeg in its powdered form (about 5g), or half that (about ½ a teaspoon, or 2.5 g) can cause toxic effects in many dogs.

The other consideration is raw nutmeg versus baked or processed. Some research suggests that the active ingredient that is so dangerous (myristicin) is less harmful baked or processed than raw.

Can nutmeg kill a dog?

Yes! Many vets consider nutmeg to be as dangerous as chocolate when it comes to its potential to kill dogs. Not only does it cause very serious symptoms (more on that in a bit), but it also causes damage in smaller portions, as you’ve learned. Then there’s the fact that it tends to be “hidden” in many foods that we like to give our dogs a sample of, making it easy to give him too much accidentally!

My dog ate nutmeg. What do I do?

In case of panic because you’ve discovered that your dog has eaten nutmeg, read this list:

  • Remove your dog from the nutmeg
  • Please take note of how much he’s eaten (and what form it’s in)
  • Call your vet
  • Watch closely for symptoms be prepared to take him in

Even if you’re pretty sure that your dog hasn’t eaten nearly enough for it to be toxic, you’ll still want to call your vet. These are the professionals and will know whether or not your dog should come in to be treated once you give them the details. Serious symptoms to watch for in your dog include:

  • Hyperactivity OR lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Dry mouth/Increased thirst
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Mental issues (see below)
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, no matter how minor, you’ll want to tell your vet and ask to bring him in for treatment. Even in small amounts, nutmeg can create serious problems for a dog’s central nervous system, meaning immediate care by a trained professional.

What do mental issues look like in a dog?

It seems strange that nutmeg could cause mental issues, but it’s actually very common! It’s reported even to cause hallucinations in dogs. If you notice that our dog is actually strange, mentally speaking, take him to a vet as soon as you can. Once he gets to this stage, you’ll need to act very quickly to save his life! Examples of this could include:

  • Fearfully running away from something
  • Chasing something that isn’t there
  • Seeming terrified or aggressive for no reason
  • Not seeming like himself

As a loving pet parent, you are the best person to notice these subtle but important changes. If he’s eaten nutmeg, keep an eye out for all of these! 

Conclusion

Nutmeg contains a chemical that can be extremely dangerous to dogs, even fatal in some cases. Dogs should never eat nutmeg, though small amounts in most baked goods are considered to be relatively safe.

Know someone who needs to know this before pumpkin spice season rolls around? Please share this with them!

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