PLEASE beware of dog nutrition bloggers who carelessly include harmful ingredients in their recipes, like peppermint in St. Patrick's Day treats for dogs.
I apologize in advance for this rant, but an email came across my inbox this morning promoting a Shamrock Shake Smoothie Recipe for Dogs. The recipe includes 4 sprigs of peppermint or several drops 100% peppermint oil. One of my pet peeves is dog bloggers give bad advice. As the wife of a Veterinary Internist who sees a LOT of gastrointestinal problems and a scientist myself, I've come to question most of the claims dog bloggers make. I finally feel compelled to write something here. I'm sure most of them mean well, but remember that they write primarily in order to get traffic for their advertising and affiliate links. Don't believe everything you see online. 😉 Please check their credentials.
It's no secret that we love to pamper our pets, but it's crucial to prioritize their health and well-being above all else. Unfortunately, not all dog nutrition bloggers seem to understand this, as they thoughtlessly include ingredients that can be harmful to our beloved furry friends. In light of St. Patrick's Day, let's take a look at the shocking reality of these so-called "experts" and their hazardous recipes, like those featuring peppermint and almond milk for dogs.
A Reckless Approach to Dog Nutrition
Dog owners trust dog nutrition bloggers to provide safe and healthy recipes for their pets. But peppermint, a seemingly innocent ingredient often found in St. Patrick's Day treats, can wreak havoc on a dog's health.
Many, if not most of these bloggers have gotten their "credentials" from an "institution" that takes their money and gives them an online version of a well-known textbook on the small animal clinical nutrition as well as their own written materials. It isn't clear if there's even an exam on the materials, and there is no organization accrediting this institution. I discovered this institute when I saw a dog blogger "certified" in "canine nutrition" promote the feeding of rabbit fur of all things to "clean out your dog's intestines like a pipe cleaner." So, I looked her up and the trail led to this very sketchy "institution." The qualifications of most of the "staff" are very questionable as well.
The ONLY people who are qualified to talk about small animal nutrition are Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists.® They are certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (the same as Dr. Greg, except that he is certified in Small Animal Internal Medicine), but in the speciality of Nutrition. The AVCIM also certifies specialists in Oncology. You can find a listing of qualified veterinary nutritionists at VetSpecialists.com.
Peppermint Safety for Dogs: Understanding the Risks
While peppermint is often associated with fresh breath and festive treats, it's essential to understand the potential dangers it may pose to our canine companions. While essential oils are especially hazardous to cats, dogs can also develop symptoms according to the Pet Poison Helpline.
Peppermint oil, in particular, contains high concentrations of menthol, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, skin irritation, and even more severe symptoms such as central nervous system depression or liver damage in dogs. Ingestion of large amounts of peppermint leaves or dried peppermint can also lead to similar issues due to the menthol content. That means that I need to get rid of the peppermint plant in my backyard. Even I learned something while researching this article! 😉
When it comes to dog treats and dental chews, it's important to avoid any products containing peppermint oil or a large quantity of the herb. Instead, opt for dog-safe alternatives, like parsley. Why take the risk? Besides, your dog doesn't know the difference, and doesn't care. Don't feed your dog like you would feed yourself.
Parsley is a dog-friendly herb that can help freshen your dog's breath and is safe for them to consume in small amounts. Rich in vitamins and minerals, parsley can be added to homemade dog treats, like smoothies and shakes, or sprinkled on top of your dog's food for a burst of flavor and a breath-freshening effect.
Almond Milk Safety for Dogs: What You Need to Know
Almond milk is generally considered safe for dogs in small quantities, but it is not nutritionally beneficial for them. Some dogs might have a sensitivity to almonds, so it's essential to monitor your pet for any signs of gastrointestinal upset or an allergic reaction after giving them almond milk. Also, be sure to choose unsweetened almond milk without any added sweeteners, especially xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.
Coconut Milk: A Safe Alternative for Dogs
In moderation, coconut milk is generally safe for dogs to consume. It contains lauric acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that can potentially benefit your dog's overall health. However, coconut milk is also high in fat, so giving your dog too much can lead to weight gain or even pancreatitis in some cases. When offering coconut milk to your dog, be sure it is unsweetened and free of additives, such as xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs, or carrageenan or xanthan gum, which can cause stomach upset. Organic coconut milk is best because it avoids the pesticides used on non-organic products.
To reduce the amount of fat, refrigerate the canned coconut milk overnight, allowing the fat to separate and solidify at the top. Once chilled, use a can opener to remove the bottom of the can and pour out the liquid to use in the recipe below. Then remove the top and push out the coconut cream and reserve it for a nice vegan curry or decadent vegan chocolate coconut cream mousse for yourself.
A Truly Dog-safe Shamrock Shake Recipe
To show that it's possible to create a festive and dog-friendly treat without compromising your pet's health, here's a revised Shamrock Shake Smoothie Recipe for dogs. ALWAYS introduce new foods in moderation.
- 1 ripe banana, sliced then frozen
- 1 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk (be sure it's free of additives like xylitol), You can even make ice cubes with the milk to avoid waste. It's a good idea to remove the solid
- 1/4 cup fresh spinach, washed
- 2 sprigs of parsley, washed
- 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- Wash the spinach and parsley thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
- Add the banana, unsweetened coconut milk, spinach and parsley to a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the Shamrock Shake Smoothie into a dog-safe bowl or cup and serve it to your pup as a special St. Patrick's Day treat, free from potentially harmful ingredients!
Please don't let irresponsible dog nutrition bloggers put your dog's health at risk with their reckless recipes. Always research and double-check ingredients before giving your dog a homemade treat. Let's keep our furry friends happy, healthy, and safe this St. Patrick's Day and beyond!