Can Dogs Eat Basil? (A Complete Guide)

Can Dogs Eat Basil? (A Complete Guide)

Yes dogs can eat basil! There is a general consensus that herbs and spices are toxic to pets. However, the ASPCA lists basil as non-toxic to dogs. In fact, the herb is packed with antioxidants which has notable health benefits.

A little basil is good for dogs and can help your canine friend's immune system and fight cellular damage and illnesses like cancer.

However, you should be careful when feeding dogs herbs and spices. Here’s a brief overview of the health benefits of basil to dogs before looking at the risks posed by basil.

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What Does Basil Do For Dogs?

Basil has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral benefits. As a result, you shouldn't be afraid if your dog snacks on some basil whether it's fresh or dried.

Here's a summary of dog health benefits from eating basil:

1. Prevents Cellular Damage

As an antioxidant, basil destroys free radicals that damage cells. The herb prevents cell damage and is also capable of healing cellular damage. This action alone can help prevent as well as treat many health problems affecting dogs.

2. Cancer Fighting Benefits

Basil’s antioxidants can help keep chronic diseases like cancer at bay. The herb has proven anticancer benefits.

3. Anti-inflammation Benefits

Given basil’s anti-inflammatory properties, the herb is capable of protecting dogs from diseases like arthritis.

In fact, the herb is a better remedy for arthritis when compared to common prescriptions like painkillers, which don't tackle the root cause of the problems.

Basil’s beta-caryophyllene can reduce inflammatory bowel disease risks.

4. Calming Benefits

Pets can get anxious or nervous in many instances that don't pose real danger. For instance, your dog can get anxious during travel or when they are in the presence of many people outdoors. In such instances, basil can act as a calming agent.

In fact, the herb is safer and better compared to most prescription medicines for anxiety. This explains why many certified calming dog supplements have some basil in them.

The herb can decrease levels of stress hormones like corticosterone known to cause anxiety in dogs.

5. Age-related Benefits

As dogs age, they are prone to health problems like senility and heart problems. Basil leaves can prevent such problems when administered moderately in your dog’s diet.

The anti-inflammatory benefits of basil can get rid of canine arthritis, chronic diseases, and cellular damage known to accelerate aging in dogs.

What Are The Side Effects Of Basil?

While dogs can have basil to enjoy health benefits discussed above, basil shouldn’t replace healthy dog food.

In fact, basil should only be used to supplement dog food. What's more, it should be given sparingly; otherwise, your dog can suffer some of the side effects discussed below:

1. Digestive Problems

As mentioned above, basil should be given in small quantities. Giving your dog too many herbs can cause digestive system problems like diarrhea, stomach upset, and vomiting. This is a common side effect due to dog's sensitivity towards herbs.

2. Skin Problems

Your dog can develop skin problems because of eating too much basil. If you enjoy feeding your dog human foods and you put a high level of basil in your food, your dog can suffer skin problems like itchiness.

3. Allergy Effects

Some dogs are allergic to basil and herbs in general. As a result, some precaution is necessary when giving your dog basil for the first time. Basil is common in human foods.

If you feed your dog basil on its own or as part of a snack or bite of human food, observe them for allergies. Common effects of allergies in dogs include sneezing, swelling, hives, diarrhea, vomiting and itchy ears.

Allergies should be reported immediately to your vet. Severe side effects like breathing problems can be lethal to your dog.

It's worth noting that the digestive system of dogs is designed for a carnivorous diet. Dogs that eat a lot of plant-based foods tend to suffer serious problems.

Basil In A Pot

How To Serve Basil

Given the negative side effect of giving your dog herbs like basil, it's important to explore ways of minimizing health risks. There are good/safe ways to give your dog basil, among other herbs.

Given the health benefits of herbs to both humans and dogs, it's important to explore serving ideas as opposed to eliminating herbs completely from the diet.

How Should Dogs Eat Basil: Serving Ideas

1. As Part Of The Ingredients Of Other Food

Basil shouldn’t be your dog’s main dish. It should be part of dog-friendly dishes. It can be added in tiny amounts to dog food or snacks.

2. In Tiny Quantities

Basil should be sprinkled on food as is the case when adding some salt. The herb poses the serious side effects discussed above when given to dogs in large quantities.

3. Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Allergic Initially

You should be careful when introducing basil to your dog’s diet. Since most dogs are allergic to basil, you should investigate if your dog is allergic before making the herb a common ingredient in your dog’ food.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Basil?

Yes, dogs can eat raw basil right off the plant, as well as dried basil. According to the ASPCA, basil is not toxic to dogs, including Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, and Saint Joseph’s Wort.

However, with dried basil, make sure the herb you’re buying is not mixed with anything else, such pepper in Italian Spice Blend (since pepper is not good for dogs’ digestive system). 

Additionally, it’s best to introduce new foods to your dog one-by-one in case they have an allergic reaction.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Basil?

Yes, dogs can have cooked basil. However, they should really only have basil as part of a meal that was cooked specifically for dogs. Dogs shouldn’t have garlic or tomato—two delicious flavors we often associate with basil. 

One great way to incorporate a small amount of basil would be inside homemade dog treats. For peace of mind and ease of feeding, you can also look for commercial dog foods and treats that include basil. Two brands that have basil in are:

  • Ancestry Grain Free Tidal Energy with Salmon Meal

  • Granville Island Pet Treatery Nutra Bites “Stress! Whaddya Mean I’m Stressed!” Functional Bites for Dogs

How Much Basil Can a Dog Have Per Day?

Although basil is not toxic to your dog, you should always introduce anything new in small quantities. It’s generally best to just sprinkle a small amount on top of his food like you would your own. (This, of course, does not apply to Italians.)

You should look out for side effects whenever you feed your dog something new, and basil is no exception. Too much basil can cause stomach upset, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. It can also lead to itchiness in your dog, or a serious allergic reaction.

Dogs are supposed to eat mainly meat. Do not replace a large part of your dog’s diet with basil or other vegetables.

Can Puppies Eat Basil?

Puppies can eat basil in small qualities. However, you need to introduce the basil carefully, in case your puppy is allergic. 

You should never use basil as a large part of any meal for your puppy. That means no pesto cubes, no using basil as a salad, no pho soup topped with basil. In large quantities, it will cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

Is Basil Good For Dogs?

Yes! A small amount of basil can be good for your dog’s health! Basil contains antioxidants that are good for dogs and humans. It is thought that antioxidants are good for preventing cancer.

Basil antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help slightly soothe aching joints or arthritis. This works by reacting with free radicals.

Basil may be good for dogs with diabetes, since it is thought to help lower blood sugar levels. However, you should consult with a doctor to help your dog if they have diabetes and only use basil as part of a complete diet.

Additionally, basil may have some natural relaxing effects on your dog. While not a cure-all, it can help dogs who get anxious in certain situations. You should try to remove the source of anxiety first, but basil can help naturally calm them somewhat.

Is Basil Bad For Dogs?

Too much basil will be bad for your dog. Dogs are carnivores and are not meant to eat large amounts of vegetable matter. 

Additionally, some dogs are more sensitive to basil, and will have digestive problems in response to basil.

 Finally, dogs may be allergic to basil, which would lead to sneezing, hives, vomiting, itching, swelling face, and diarrhea. If your dog shows any of these symptoms after eating a lot of basil or eating it for the first time, you should call your vet.

Is Basil Poisonous to Dogs?

Basil is not poisonous to dogs, but as a vegetable, it should only be given in small amounts. Too much will lead to digestive upset, including diarrhea and vomiting. 

Additionally, the first time any food is introduced to a dog, they should be monitored carefully for an allergic reaction.

Do Dogs Like Basil?

Some dogs like basil, just like some people like basil. Dogs who love crunchy foods may like the crispness of basil, but because they shouldn’t eat too much, it may be better to serve them something better for dogs, like pumpkin or sweet potato.

How Do Dogs React to Basil?

Dogs are just like people—their preferences will vary! One dog may like basil and another dog may dislike it. There’s no telling whether your dog will like basil until they try it. 

Remember, if you’re introducing basil to your dog for the first time, you need to observe them and watch for signs of an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergy include swelling, itching, hives, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Call your vet if you think your dog is having an allergic reaction, and talk to your vet before introducing new foods to your dog.

Other FAQs:

Can Dogs Eat Basil Pesto?

Dogs should not eat traditional pesto, because pesto is usually made with garlic, which is toxic to dogs. The garlic in pesto will literally break down the blood cells of your poor pup, leading to anemia. 

Another ingredient to avoid is pepper. Dogs are sensitive to pepper and can’t tolerate nearly as much as humans. Just a little pepper can lead to diarrhea in dogs. 

Finally, it would be best to leave out the salt usually added to pesto, since dogs don’t usually have a lot of salt in their diets. Too much salt can cause serious dehydration in dogs, with vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, fever, and seizures, and can even lead to death.

However, if you want to make a puppy pesto, dogs can consume basil, olive oil, cheese, and pine nuts. It’s usually best not to give your dog human food, and instead prepare them their own food, so you can be sure their food is safe. Since dogs are carnivores, you should only give them pesto on the side of their main food.

Can Dogs Eat Basil Leaf?

Yes, dogs can eat basil leaves, both fresh and dried, in moderation.

Can Dogs Eat Basil Seeds?

Dogs can eat all parts of the basil plant in moderation. If you want to serve your dog basil seeds, just sprinkle a few on top of their meal or combine them into a dog treat. 

Since seeds are relatively fibrous, and dogs are carnivores, you can help them get the maximum benefit from the seeds by crushing or grinding them first. A mortar and pestle can help you crack the outer shell of any seed so that your dog can digest the kernel within.

Can Dogs Eat Oregano and Basil?

According to the ASPCA, oregano is mildly toxic to dogs, leading and can lead to stomach upset, mild vomiting or diarrhea. It’s not advisable to feed your dog oregano by adding it to food. It may be used in very, very small amount as part of an occasional treat, but realistically, do you want to risk your pet having an adverse reaction?

Can Dogs Eat Parsley and Basil?

According to the ASPCA, dogs should not eat flat-leafed parsley or Italian parsley, as it contains toxins which can cause photosensitization in dogs. However, small amounts of curly-leaf parsley are safe for dogs that are not pregnant and do not have any known kidney issues. 

Can Dogs Eat Rosemary and Basil?

According to the ASPCA, rosemary is non-toxic to dogs. As with any new food, it’s important to introduce rosemary carefully and watch for signs of an allergic reaction. With that in mind, there are many benefits of rosemary for your dog:

  • Rosemary contains antioxidants that are believed to stop free radicals that cause aging.

  • Rosemary can help soothe muscle spasms, including cardiac arrythmias. You should talk to your dog’s vet if he has heart problems before adding rosemary to his diet.

  • Rosemary can prevent gas! This might be a huge win for you if your doggie’s toots are filling the room frequently.

  • Rosemary is a natural antimicrobial. It is often used in pet food to keep it fresh, as well as in antimicrobial rinses.


  • When introducing any new food to your dog, you should do so with a small amount, one new ingredient at a time, and watch your dog for signs of an allergic reaction. 

  • Dogs are carnivores and should never have much of their food replaced with vegetables. 

  • Talk to your vet before adding new foods to your pet’s diet, especially if they have any current health problems.

  • Dogs should not have too much “people food”. There are many foods that are toxic to dogs that are safe for people. It’s better to prepare your dog their own plate with less salt and with no toxins.


What Herbs Are Toxic To Dogs?

Most herbs are toxic to dogs. In case you need details on common herbs and plants that you should keep far away from your dog’s reach, here’s a detailed list to consider:

1. Tomato Plant

The tomato plant isn’t exactly a herb. However, it is common in many households. Tomatoes are also common additions in many human foods. However, tomato plants are toxic.

Dogs can suffer side effects like drowsiness, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, slow heart rate, dilated pupils and other severe side effects from munching on tomato plants.

2. Aloe Vera

This is another common herb in many households that is toxic to dogs. While aloe vera has many benefits to humans, it can cause diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, tremors, and overall CNS depression in dogs.

3. Ivy

You should also keep herbs like poison ivy far away from dogs. This herb is known to cause excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in dogs.

4. Garlic

Your canine friend should also stay away from garlic and other herbs belonging to the garlic family i.e., onions, leeks, and chives.

These herbs alongside garlic are harmful to both cats and dogs. Giving your dog human foods containing garlic or herbs like chives and leeks can cause diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, rapid breathing, and elevated heart rate, among other side effects.

5. Amaryllis

This bulb common in many kitchen garden is also poisonous to dogs.

If you have a dog/s, you should consider removing this plant from your kitchen garden. Dogs are prone to munching on Amaryllis.

6. Comfrey

Dogs should also avoid comfrey. This herb contains alkaloids that can cause cancer. Although dried comfrey is safer (contains less alkaloids compared to fresh herbs), it can still cause digestive system problems when ingested in large quantities.

If you choose to give your dog comfrey, do so in small quantities given the health benefits of comfrey like relieving pain and offering anti-inflammatory benefits that can relieve your dog’s joint pain.

Is Basil Harmful To Pets?

Basil isn't harmful to dogs or pets when given in small amounts. Cats can eat basil. While fresh basil is common in many human foods that pets love i.e., sauces, you should be cautious of the amounts of basil you give your cat or dog.

Cats suffer side effects similar to dogs (such as vomiting and diarrhea) when they eat large quantities of basil.

Cats and dogs are generally carnivorous. While basil offers many health benefits, such benefits can be acquired from typical cat foods. Plant-based foods are more suitable for humans than pets like cats and dogs.

Basil In A Greenhouse


Dogs can eat basil, but they shouldn't do so in large quantities given the risks of basil outweigh the benefits, especially if your dog is allergic to herbs. Basil is non-toxic to dogs and is generally safe for dogs when served in tiny quantities alongside dog food or dog snacks.

Since dogs love snacking on human food, you can also give your dog a bit of food cooked with some basil. Your dog stands to enjoy antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits of basil.

In a nutshell, your dog stands to enjoy some health benefits by eating basil. However, the same health benefits can be found in nutritious dogs. In fact, it is better to stick to well-balanced dog food given such food comes with very little to no side effects.

Considering you can't know for sure if your dog is allergic to most herbs without giving them the herb first, the risks may outweigh the benefits of herbs, especially if your dog belongs to dog breeds susceptible to poisoning from herbs.

Important: Dogs are curious. They’ll want to taste your food as well as munch on all kinds of herbs and plants you may have in your home. As a result, you use the above info as a basis for further research on what you should and shouldn’t plant in your home. While a kitchen garden may be a valuable addition in your home, it may pose serious risks to pets.

In case your dog experiences harmful side effects from eating basil, consult your vet immediately.

The information on this page is not a substitute for veterinary help. Please contact a vet for help with any concerns that you have.

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