While a small amount of gingerbread may not bring immediate harm, regularly giving dogs gingerbread as treats can cause them to have stomach upsets or pancreatitis.
Gingerbread is a confection usually made with preserved or fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, star anise, brown sugar, molasses, honey, or corn syrup.
Let us examine in detail how each of these ingredients could affect our dog’s health.
What makes gingerbread so irresistible for us is the sugar content and its effect is the same to humans as to our pooches. As we all know, consuming too much of this ingredient will increase the glucose level in the blood resulting in weight gain, tooth cavities, and diabetes.
Some recipes call for corn syrup to sweeten the cake but it is no better than regular white or brown sugar since corn syrup also has a high glycemic index.
Butter is another main ingredient of this confection, and is mostly made of saturated fats. It is not toxic to dogs but too much consumption can also lead to obesity and pancreatitis.
Wheat flour is usually used for gingerbread and for some dogs it can trigger some allergies especially if they are gluten intolerant. A better alternative is a gingerbread that has whole wheat flour which contains more protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
This being a gingerbread, ginger is naturally one of the main ingredients. Ginger provides a slew of health benefits like anti-inflammation and anti-cancer properties due to a compound called gingerol.
The safe amount of ginger is based on the size of your pooch, which is roughly between ¼ and ¾ teaspoon of fresh ginger.
One ingredient you should avoid giving your pooch is nutmeg, a seed or ground spice type. This spice is usually added to gingerbread to add a layer of sweetness and it blends well with cinnamon.
The aromatic compound present in this spice is myristicin that is considered toxic to animals, and a large intake of this compound can cause hallucinations, disorientation, increased heart rate, and seizures.
Cinnamon is a safe spice for dogs and is considered non-toxic. It is known to increase their energy and boost brain function. It also has anti-fungal properties that protect it from yeast infections.
When using cinnamon, it is recommended to use the Ceylon variety rather than the Cassia variety since the former contains less coumarin that promotes blood thinning.
Allspice and cloves are also two spices found in gingerbread. While they are used sparingly on gingerbread, they both contain the compound eugenol that is found to cause liver toxicity in cats.
Other ingredients found in some gingerbread recipes are star anise that is known to make dogs hyper.