Safe Herbs & Spices

This is a list of the safe herbs and spices, most of which I use to prepare Kirby's dog treats and meals.  Seasonings can not only enhance the flavors, they can provide nutrients valuable to a dog's overall well being. Consider growing your own herbs in a raised bed like I do so they are readily available. You can use powder (most commonly available), crushed or fresh root. Most spices and herbs sold in grocery stores and bulk food stores are mass produced which means they are grown with pesticides and herbicides so always try to purchase from a reputable high-quality organic supplier.

Holistic veterinarians consider these herbs & spices to be safe for healthy dogs with no underlying health issues.  Before using any herb or spice consult with your veterinarian for any cautions, possible side effects or conventional drug interactions. Not all herbs and spices are safe for pregnant or lactating dogs or puppies. 

Alfalfa is rich in calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon and zinc, vitamins A, B1, B12, C, D, E, and K. It is also an antioxidant used to reduce pain and swelling associated with arthritis, nutritive (good for bone building) and diuretic.

Anise seed has anti-oxidant, disease preventing and many health promoting properties. Anise is rich in B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin A and C (anti-oxidants) and important minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese zinc and potassium. 

Black Peppercorns are picked just before ripening, left to ferment, and then dried until they shrivel and turn black. They can then be ground into black pepper. Piperine is the key chemical in black pepper which enhances the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric by 1,000 times. I have added this spice since thousands of pet owners (including myself) have been feeding it to their dogs in the form of Turmeric Paste on the recommendation of Doug English, DVM, without any detrimental side effects to date. In fact, I have read countless stories of healings.


Carob is low in fat and sodium, high in fiber, potassium, and calcium, and can improve digestion. It has a natural sweetness and contains very little fat, no caffeine and encourages the absorption of calcium. Even though carob looks like, smells like, and has a taste that is similar to chocolate, it does not contain theobromine, the part of chocolate that is toxic to dogs.

Caraway Seeds are rich in dietary fiber, vital vitamins, and minerals, anti-oxidants (cancer and disease fighting). Caraway seeds are considered a warming herb meaning they help the body stay warm. Caraway seeds are also good for muscle health (anti-contraction), help prevent constipation, and remove a large amount of harmful toxins from the body which helps prevent some cancers. They can be ground for use in homemade treats  or gently baked in the oven just before serving or adding to food.  

Catnip isn't just for cats! It contains Magnesium, manganese, flavonoids, tannins, vitamins C and E, and essential oils such as neroli, citronellol, nepetalactone, thymol. It has a mild tranquilizing effect on most animals so is effective for treating restlessness, nervousness, and insomnia. The gas relieving and antispasmodic effect of catnip also makes it excellent for treatment of flatulence, diarrhea, and dyspepsia, and is effective in treating early symptoms of colds, flus, and especially bronchitis.  Tip: Put some fresh leaves in drinking water or sprinkle the dried herb (1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon of per pound of food) on a meal.

cayenne pepper

Cayenne Pepper, a hot and spicy source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, vitamin K, manganese, and dietary fiber, is the only pepper considered to be safe for dogs.  All chili peppers, including cayenne, contain capsaicin which is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes. Capsaicin is being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. When animals were fed a diet that contained capsaicin, they had delayed onset of arthritis and also significantly reduced paw inflammation.

Cayenne and other red chili peppers have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation while increasing the body's ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Red peppers are one of the few foods that contain lycopene, a phytochemical that may help prevent various forms of cancer.  Cayenne peppers bright red color signals its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A. These hot peppers may help prevent stomach ulcers by killing ingested bacteria and powerfully stimulating the cells lining the stomach to secrete protective buffering juices that prevent ulcer formation. Finally, they have been found to contain substances that significantly increase thermogenesis (heat production) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after they are eaten.

Chamomile can be used as a sedative to alleviate anxiety and insomnia. The herb tea or tincture is useful for indigestion, gas, and vomiting. It's calming property is particularly helpful for cases of indigestive upset resulting from anxiety, nervousness and hyperactivity. Although this is one of the safest herbs, some dogs are allergic to the plant so check for sensitivity first before applying it to your dog. Also limit the use of this herb on pregnant dogs.

chia seeds

Chia Seeds contain large quantities of protein, five times the calcium of milk, boron (a trace mineral that aids in the absorption of calcium into the bones), Omega oils 3 and 6, and can help regulate blood sugar levels and aid in maintaining a healthy weight. The seeds of chia plants can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart disease. These seeds have no discernible odor and almost no taste, which means they can be added to your dog's meals without altering the flavors he loves. Seeds can be ground, eaten raw, or added to water, which will cause the seeds to produce what is called chia seed gel. This gel helps clean out intestines and slows digestion, allowing your dog's body to absorb more of the incredible nutrients that chia seeds provide.

Cilantro (Corriander) is considered a digestive aid since it acts mainly on the digestive system, moderating the secretion of gastric juices and stimulating the appetite. It relieves gas and indigestion.


Cinnamon (Ceylon) has a pungent, slightly sweet flavor. It's recommended to relieve vomiting and aid digestion. Cinnamon is said to have one of the highest anti-oxidant levels of all food sources and can help remove the alfatoxins present in foods. Cinnamon is also good for keeping teeth clean and fighting bad breath. For a deeper look into cinnamon including the two main types and why you should only be using ceylon cinnamon read Know Your Cinnamon

Dandelion contains vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B complex, potassium, calcium, iron, thiamin, choline, lecithin, and riboflavin. This herb is also a strong but safe diuretic and liver stimulant, and its rich supply of potassium replenishes the precious mineral lost in the urine. The root has the ability to stimulate bile production by more than 50 percent, and it also increases bile flow to the gallbladder which proves to be helpful for dogs suffering from liver congestion, gallstones, and other forms of liver problems. The flowers are high in lecithin and have useful pain reducing qualities, so it can be used as a mild painkiller. Tip: The flowers and greens can be dried and then sprinkled on the dog's food as a supplement. Alternatively, make a leaf tea by boiling the greens in unsalted vegetable or meat broth. (Daily intake: One teaspoon of dried herb for each 20 pounds of body weight.)

Dill improves appetite, digestion and flatulence. It eases bloating due to gas and improves the digestive process because the gut gets better at extracting nutrients from foods and fewer nutrients are lost in excrement.  It’s considered an antispasmodic which can help relax the colon and relieve constipation and it also helps to stop diarrhea and dysentery. Its antimicrobial action helps to freshen the mouth when chewed or washed with an extract of dill. Its known to activate an enzyme called glutathione S-transferase which neutralizes carcinogens and generally detoxifies the body and it also has an antihistamine effect that helps to clear respiratory congestion caused by allergies or cough. 


Fennel which is crunchy and slightly contains protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, and Omega-6 fatty acids. It acts as a detoxifier and strong digestive aid. 

Fennel Seeds are used mainly as a digestive and have been known to normalise the appetite and aid weight loss. They also treat flatulence, calms the digestive tract, cleanses the liver, helpful with detoxifying the body as a whole, and is a natural diuretic.


Flaxseed, also known as linseeds, plays a significant role in canine cardiovascular health and skin and coat health since it is an important source of fiber and antioxidants, and it may have anti-tumor properties as well. omega-3 fatty acid and B vitamins, and ground flaxseed may be added in place of oils in the diet. It not only improves the shine of the pet’s coat but aids in the movement of food through the digestive system.


Garliccontains germanium - an anti-cancer agent, helps to regulate blood pressure, helps strengthen the body's defenses against allergies, and regulate blood sugar levels. It's considered an aid to fighting and treating diabetes and liver, heart and kidney disease. It provides Vitamin A, B, B2, C, Calcium, Potassium, and Zinc. Garlic is a natural flea repellent and de-wormer. I also list Garlic under Foods That Harm Dogs because large amounts given over a prolonged period can result in the formation of Heinz bodies on the surface of red blood cells which are then destroyed by the body resulting in a severe hemolytic anemia. Whole Dog Journal claims a healthy dog can tolerate 1 clove per 20 lbs of body weight per day without any toxic effects. Click HERE to learn more.


Ginger is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory used to treat digestive upset, nausea, gas, motion sickness, heart problems, joint inflammation due to arthritic conditions, to reduce fever, and is also effective as an anti-infective, especially against viruses. It can decrease blood sugar levels, and increase absorption of all oral medications. Too much ginger may cause nausea, especially when given on an empty stomach, and can affect how well blood clots. Do not give to a dog with a gastric ulcer or pregnant dogs.

green tea

Green Tea is rich in anti-oxidants and calming. It contains catechins which are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and provide a reduced risk for heart disease and  several cancers such as skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder.   Make sure you only use de-caffienated green tea.


Kelp (seaweed) is a nutritional powerhouse containing Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, folate, iodine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Kelp benefits thyroid function, promotes heart health, helps fight and prevent cancer, is a powerful anti-oxidant, aids in healing skin disorders and enhancing coat health. It can be purchased in dried form at most health stores.

Licorice is an effective anti-inflammatory, due to the presence of Glycyrrhizin, which has a similar chemical structure to that of natural corticosteroids released by the adrenal glands. Glycyrrhizin stimulates the adrenals and is useful for treating Addison's disease. The herb also acts on the digestive system by promoting cell growth and alleviating ulcers and is also beneficial in treating liver toxicity. For the upper respiratory tracts, licorice root has long been used to alleviate coughs and ease discomfort brought on by bronchitis due to its demulcent, anti-flammatory, and expectorant properties. To treat or prevent any of the above ailments, the best way is to feed your dog tinctures of the herb. Licorice can raise sugar levels in blood and should be used with caution in diabetic dogs. Do not use licorice for dogs with heart disease. 

Milk Thistle is well known as a "liver herb" both for humans and pets. It contains a flavonoid compound called "silymarin" which itself is a combination of several other active compounds. Extensive studies around the world have found that silymarin is safe and effective in treating a variety of liver diseases and other conditions, from kidney disease to mushroom or lead poisoning. It works by displacing toxins trying to bind to the liver and by causing the liver to regenerate more quickly. In addition, silymarin can work as an antioxidant for the liver - it scavenges free radicals and stabilize liver cell membranes. It also stimulates the production of new liver cells.

Holistic veterinarians (and some conventional ones as well) have long been using milk thistle to treat dog liver disease. It has an excellent safety record and no known adverse drug interactions, although taking too much of the herb at a time can sometimes cause an upset stomach, gas, or mild diarrhea. 


Oregano is a rich natural source of fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.  It contains Vitamin K, anti-oxidants, iron, manganese, fiber, and is a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is renowned for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. 



Parsley Leaves are packed with B vitamins, C vitamins, carotene, iron and calcium.  In addition to its use for dog bad breath, it can stimulate the kidneys to filter out toxins and increase urine.


peppermint leaf

Peppermint is known for its soothing effect of an upset stomach, respiratory infections, viral infections and skin conditions.  It provides effective relief of flatulence and indigestion. Its anti-parasitic medical properties are an alternate solution in the treatment of worms for dogs. It is an antispamodic, stimulates circulation, good for arthritis, dysplasia, sprains and strains, and works well with ginger to treat motion sickness. Because one of the key constituents of peppermint is menthol, this oil should be kept away from your pets’ eyes and sensitive skin areas. It can be used topically or orally. 


Rosemary is high in fiber, rich in vitamins, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti fungal, anti-septic, disease preventing and health promoting properties. 



Sea Salt, in small amounts, is considered safe for dogs. It provides sodium, which is necessary for life.  It helps with muscle contraction and expansion, nerve stimulation, the proper functioning of the adrenals, chloride which helps produce acids necessary to digest protein and enzymes for carbohydrate digestion necessary for proper brain functioning and growth, and finally, magnesium which is important for producing enzymes, nerve transmission, bone formation, forming tooth enamel, and resistance to heart disease.   


Spirulina is a microscopic algae in the shape of a perfect spiral coil. It contains the most remarkable concentration of nutrients known in any food, plant, grain or herb. Its the highest protein food- over 60% all digestible vegetable protein with the highest concentration of beta carotene, vitamin B-12, iron and trace minerals and the rare essential fatty acid GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).  Both test-tube studies and animal-based research suggest that spirulina may help to strengthen the immune system, improve gastrointestinal health, aid in detoxification, reduce the rate of cancer, and help allergies.


Thyme contains Vitamin K, iron, manganese, calcium, fibre and tryptophan, phytochemicals and anti-oxidants. It has antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anti-bacterial properties, and is thought to have anti-cancer properties.  It’s good for the skin, respiratory system, good brain function and gastrointestinal health. 


Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. It is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry but it also gives mustard its bright yellow color. Curcumin, the principle active component in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent that shows promise in the prevention and treatment of cancer among other conditions. It is generally found to be safe for dogs and cats with veterinarians frequently recommending the addition of turmeric (up to a quarter of a teaspoon per day for every 10 pounds of weight) to a dog or cat's diet if they have been diagnosed with cancer. Turmeric can also be good for reducing arthritis inflammation and pain in pets. You can use powder, crushed or fresh root. Click HERE to learn more. 


  • Cocoa
  • Comfrey
  • Mace
  • Ma Haung (Ephedra)
  • Nutmeg
  • Paprika
  • Pennyroyal
  • Table Salt
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Wormwood,,,