Love it or hate it, there’s just no getting around the fact that ginger has long been considered a spice with a lot of medicinal muscle. Ginger is well known for easing stomach upsets as well as reducing morning and motion sickness.
What’s more, ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. And it’s these anti-inflammatory properties that have led to ginger being used to help improve the symptoms of arthritis sufferers among others.
But can our dogs benefit from this fragrant spice in the same way that we do? Is ginger for dogs safe?
What is ginger?
It may look like a strange and slightly unhealthy cactus. But ginger is actually a rhizome (underground stem) or root.
Belonging to the same Zingiberaceae family as turmeric and cardamom. It’s been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes in Chinese and Indian cultures for thousands of years.
Although it’s often used fresh. Ginger is also available dried, powdered, juiced or in oil. In fact, ginger is so versatile it’s also available as tea, capsules and tinctures making it easy to add into your or your dog’s diet.
But what makes ginger so perfect for our and our dog’s health?
The benefits of ginger
Despite gingers robust nutritional profile. Offering a good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese, this isn’t what makes ginger so unique.
Gingers secret weapon is bioactive compounds called gingerols. These gingerols are concentrated in the oily resin from the root and are responsible for many of gingers health giving benefits.
Gingerols have powerful anti- inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Not only that but gingerols help reduce fever and relieve pain.
So how can we use ginger to help support our dog’s health?
What can ginger be used for?
Despite being best known as an aid to relieve nausea. Ginger offers a lot more in health benefits to our dogs.
From reducing travel sickness to soothing muscle pains. There’s never been a better reason for adding a bit more spice to your dog’s life.
It’s miserable if your dog gets car sick, isn’t it? Not only is it unpleasant for your dog, but it’s no fun clearing the mess away either.
Giving your dog Ginger around thirty minutes before travel can really help settle their stomach. In fact, although no one really knows how ginger works to help relieve nausea its effectiveness has been supported by various studies.
Bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening condition caused by excess wind. As the gas increases it causes a dogs stomach to inflate and stretch like a balloon obstructing blood circulation to the heart.
Not only that, but the stomach often twists preventing the normal escape routes for gas at both the top and bottom of the stomach.
Dogs that eat too fast or too much in one go are at a greater risk of generating excess wind than their slower eating counterparts. However, as ginger stimulates the stomach, relaxing and soothing the intestinal tract its used as an aid in the prevention of bloat.
While we often associate arthritis with older dogs. However, any dog, of any age can suffer from inflammation of the joints.
As ginger and it’s gingerols compounds are anti inflammatory it can play a vital role in helping to manage the condition.
Not only that, but ginger is thought to have pain relieving properties. So adding ginger to an arthritic dogs diet can have a double impact on their comfort.
It’s a big claim, but studies are showing promise in gingers ability to help reduce or slow the rate of cancer cells.
What’s more, gingers immune boosting properties and anti-inflammatory compounds offer an important health boost. As inflammation and a suppressed immune system go hand in hand with the onset of the disease.
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition and causes lasting damage to the heart and lungs. Although prevention is the best course of action. There are veterinary treatments available that are more successful the earlier the condition is caught.
However, ginger is also being tested for its effectiveness in treating heartworm in dogs. Although the research is still in its infancy at least one study has shown promise;
As fifty-five days after the last treatment of ginger was given to dogs suffering from heartworm, the concentration of heartworms had reduced by eighty-three percent.
With so many potential benefits, is there any reason not to add ginger to your dog’s diet?
Ginger and precautions
For most dogs, ginger is completely safe. But as with any new food starting with a small amount will prevent any adverse effects from becoming too severe. Ginger can upset some stomachs and diarrhoea is a possibility.
Ginger also can interact poorly with some medications. In particular blood thinners like Aspirin. So if your dog is already on any medication do check with your vet to make sure that ginger is safe for your dog.
Likewise, check with your vet if your dog has a heart condition or diabetes. As ginger can lower blood pressure as well as blood sugar.
How to give ginger to your dog
You can add ginger to your dog’s food in several ways. Raw ginger should be peeled and finely chopped. Otherwise dried powders, teas and capsules are good alternatives.
As a guide, a medium sized dog of between twenty to fifty pounds would need to take around a teaspoon of dry ginger a day to be effective.
While small dogs of up to ten pounds would only need around an eighth of a teaspoon. And extra large dogs of over a hundred pounds would need up to a tablespoon per day.
And if none of those options are suitable there’s always the bake at home solution like this gingerbread recipe from Hearing dogs.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour (or wheat-free flour for dogs with wheat allergies).
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (keep this to a minimum as too much can lead to mouth blisters!).
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 cup runny honey or molasses
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup light olive oil or flaxseed oil
- Preheat oven to 325° F
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves until combined.
- In a small bowl, using a sturdy spoon, stir together the honey, water and oil.
- Pour the mixture into the flour.
- Using the same sturdy spoon, stir ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness.
- Use your favourite cookie cutters to cut shapes.
- Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- Place your cut outs on the baking sheet.
- Continue to roll and cut out shapes with the remaining dough.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
Storing – The gingerbread dough will keep fresh for several weeks in the refrigerator, or you can keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Yield – Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, you should yield approximately 28 dog biscuits.
Ginger for dogs conclusion
With so much going for it, ginger seems to be an easy way to gain big benefits for your dog’s health.
Despite it not being suitable for all dogs, ginger can provide relief from nausea, help prevent bloat and provide respite from the symptoms of arthritis.
So next time you’re looking for a healthy treat for your dog why not make the most of ginger and it’s medicinal muscle.