Cinnamon has fallen a little into disrepute in the recent past. The popular spice for Christmas cookies is said to suddenly contain a toxin ( coumarin ) that can even be fatal. Do cinnamon stars now belong under lock and key so that neither children nor dogs can eat them unnoticed and is cinnamon dangerous for dogs?
Dog ate cinnamon – Can dogs eat cinnamon?
Yes, dogs are generally allowed to eat cinnamon – if it is the “right” type of cinnamon. There is one ingredient that can be toxic, but as always, the dose makes the poison. On the other hand, cinnamon has numerous health-promoting ingredients, which is why it is not only considered a spice, but also a medicine – useful, but with risks and side effects.
Cinnamon contains coumarin
Coumarin is the active ingredient in cinnamon that does pose a certain risk, as high doses can damage the liver. The spice is made from the bark of cinnamon trees and is a purely natural product, the ingredients of which fluctuate and ultimately can never be generally determined.
What is certain, however, is that some types of cinnamon contain more coumarin than others. The inexpensive cassia cinnamon, which is used for many industrially produced foods for reasons of cost, contains a lot of coumarins.
Ceylon cinnamon, on the other hand, is significantly more expensive but is practically coumarin-free. So if you want to give cinnamon to your dog, make sure to use the exact name of the cinnamon so you don’t have to worry.
In the meantime, many ready-made spice mixtures or other products have been provided with a corresponding indication of which type of cinnamon was used.
Are cinnamon stars dangerous for dogs?
To bake cinnamon stars with a high amount of coumarin, one would have to intentionally add a lot of cassia cinnamon and still not be sure that this is enough to cause serious damage to health immediately.
Finished products must comply with legally prescribed limit values. A maximum limit of 50 mg per kilo of finished baked goods applies to cinnamon stars within the European Union. A guinea pig, for example, would have to gobble up around 4 kg of this to kill itself.
One can therefore cautiously assume that a dog, even if it weighs only 5 kg, will under no circumstances be able to devour 20 kg of cinnamon stars at a time.
Only an estimate can be made here as a lethal dose for dogs has not yet been established. Accordingly, it is not necessary to lock cinnamon stars in the poison cupboard, as serious poisoning is very unlikely.
What does coumarin have to do with rat poison?
Shocking reports of fatal coumarin poisoning in dogs who have eaten rat poison have been scientifically inaccurate. The active ingredient in rat poison is a coumarin derivative, which is not found in cinnamon but requires a special manufacturing process.
It is also impossible to accidentally make the derivative during cooking or baking. So here you have to worry less about your dog.
Can my dog be allergic to cinnamon?
It is quite possible. The first reactions of a cinnamon allergy often show up as itching or blisters in the mouth. Not every dog owner will notice this immediately. But at the latest when skin reactions occur, an allergic reaction can no longer be overlooked.
If your dog is allergic to pollen and reacts to mugwort, a cross allergy cannot be ruled out. You’d better keep it away from the Christmas cookies consistently.
Cinnamon as a herbal medicine
Cinnamon is one of the many spices that have traditionally been added to food to make them easier to digest because cinnamon is said to have a stimulating effect on digestion and help against flatulence – also in dogs.
In South American and Oriental cuisine it is quite common to add cinnamon to meat and fish dishes, while here it is mainly used for desserts and sweets.
The essential oil of cinnamon has an anti-inflammatory effect and stimulates the circulation. That is why it is particularly popular in winter because cinnamon warms and helps against colds.
Cinnamon is also said to have blood sugar and cholesterol regulating properties. However, there is no clear evidence of this yet. And if there is no evidence for humans, you can assume that research on dogs doesn’t exist either.
It is clear that if it is a drug, special care is required in handling it, and consumption by your dog – especially regular consumption – should be carefully dosed.
Nutrients in cinnamon and their effects on the dog
The inconspicuous brown powder contains a surprising number of vitamins. In addition to vitamin A, which is particularly healthy for the eyes, cinnamon also provides vitamins B1 – 3, which are necessary for the functioning of the nervous system.
The mineral content is even more interesting: Potassium as an electrolyte is indispensable for the organism. Cinnamon is also rich in magnesium, which your dog mainly needs for its musculoskeletal system. There is also a lot of valuable calcium that strengthens bones and teeth.
The trace elements zinc, copper, and manganese support the immune system, cell respiration, and the muscles of your four-legged friend.
Beware of coumarin also in tonka beans and woodruff
The aromatic substance of cinnamon is contained in both the exotically spiced beans and the native herbs, although the plants are not botanically related.
Therefore, you should be careful with feeding foods that contain tonka beans. This also applies to woodruff, who is also said to have an intoxicating effect.
If your dog loves green jelly, you probably don’t need to worry – today very few products contain real woodruff. Usually, artificial aromas provide the typical taste.
Can cinnamon be found in dog food?
So far, no manufacturer has added cinnamon to their feed. If you want to be sure that your dog is allergic to cinnamon, you can check with the producers.
If your dog wants cinnamon stars with tuna for Christmas, you’ll have to bake them yourself.
No worries about Ceylon cinnamon
Cinnamon does not harm your dog at all in the right dose and variety but can be beneficial to his health in individual cases. If you make sure that you only use Ceylon cinnamon, you can let your dog snack on foods that are seasoned with cinnamon now and then.
If your four-legged friend accidentally supplied itself with small amounts of purchased Christmas cookies, you don’t have to worry. Even if the cheap cassia cinnamon has been processed here, the legally prescribed maximum limits reliably protect against coumarin poisoning.