Let’s get this out of the way upfront. Cilantro is non-toxic for dogs, so yes, it is safe for your dog to eat cilantro. It’s unlikely they’ll eat enough to pose a problem, so unless you are feeding your dog bushels of cilantro, the answer to “can dogs eat cilantro” is yes, absolutely they can.
The real question is, “should they?”. Does cilantro really belong in a dog’s diet?
For more information about what your dog should and should not eat, be sure to take a look at our “Can dogs eat…” article where we cover over 80 different items.
My wife and I differ on this opinion.
I believe it’s nasty, soap-tasting green stuff she puts into her food.
She believes it’s a tasty, nutritious fresh herb I should put into my food.
We’re a house divided.
It seems I’m one of the 10% or so of the human population that thinks cilantro tastes like soap. The other 90% tend to love the taste. This baffled the scientific community for a long time, but they think they understand the reason now.
I can argue that I’m in good company here. Julia Child can’t stand the taste either.
I bring this up because if your dog doesn’t like the taste, science may have an answer for dogs as well. If one dog likes it and another doesn’t well, you may end up with a (dog)house divided.
The plant species is Coriandrum Sativum and is a green, leafy herb in the Apiaceae family (also known as the carrot, parsley, or celery family). It has a strong aroma and a taste that you either love or hate. There are three parts of the plant to consider – the leaves, the stems, and the seeds.
Cilantro refers to the leaves and stems, while the dried seeds are called coriander. Each has a different taste and nutrition profile. You’ll find cilantro as fresh leaves or dried.
These names are regional, so depending on where you are or what you read, you may see the leaves and stems referred to as Coriander and the seeds called Coriander seeds.
Speaking of names, you may also see cilantro referred to as Chinese parsley due to its popularity in Asian dishes.
Ok, so it’s safe to feed my dog cilantro, but you said the real question is, “should I feed my dog cilantro”.
Here’s the deal – the dog food your dog eats contains all of the vitamins and nutrients your dog needs, and in the correct ratios. So you should not need to add anything else to your dog’s diet for its health.
Both are safe to feed dogs, both are extremely nutritional, and yet – again – if you are feeding your dog the right dog food, you don’t need to feed them bell peppers, or cilantro, for the health benefits.
In this specific example, a few slices of bell peppers makes for a great snack or training aid, so it’s a little bit different than cilantro, which you would only ever add to dog food rather than feeding as snacks or dog treats.
So should you feed your dog cilantro? I’d say there’s little reason to. But, in small amounts, there’s also little risk in doing so.
The health benefits humans derive from eating cilantro are extensive. It is a herb that packs a lot of nutritional punch. From a nutritional standpoint, cilantro ranks up there with the most powerful of herbs.
History shows that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, strongly advocated its use over 2,000 years ago.
Who am I to argue with Hippocrates?
There is debate over whether your dog derives the same benefits from cilantro that humans do.
If you intend to feed your dog cilantro to improve your dog’s health, you may be wasting your time as the amount you’ll feed your dog is probably not enough to have tangible effects.
If you intend to understand if it’s OK for your dog to eat human food that has cilantro in them, then yes – the cilantro in your table scraps is fine for your pooch. The more important question here is what else is in those table scraps?
You should compare the vitamin content in cilantro (and indeed any non-dog food or snack you consider giving your dog) against what they get from their dog food. Yes, cilantro is high in vitamin A, but so is dog food. Importantly, dog food (for the most part) has the vitamins the dog needs in the correct ratios.
For example, too much vitamin A is harmful to dogs. How do you give your dogs human food and, at the same time, ensure you’re not giving too much of something.
The below health benefits apply to humans and may also apply to dogs, but, again, it will depend on how much cilantro they actually eat as to how much benefit they derive.
Cilantro may help keep your dog regular, ensure an efficient digestive system, and improve the efficiency of assimilation of nutrients your dog eats. It can also help with gas and, upset stomach, or other digestive issues.
Cilantro is famous for a high amount of vitamin K, which may support strong teeth and bones and a healthy coat. Improved calcium absorption may result, ensuring your puppy’s fur is healthy, and its bones and teeth grow and remain strong.
Animal studies have shown an indication that cilantro’s anti-inflammatory properties can safeguard against cognitive degeneration, helping your furry friend maintain its mental facilities into old age.
In humans, cilantro has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and can be used to help combat diabetes.
The vitamin C in cilantro contributes to creating and maintaining a strong immune system, protecting against sickness.
The iron content in cilantro may help keep your dog’s blood healthy, as well as elevating the capacity to carry oxygen to its brain.
Studies show that there is a calming effect associated with eating cilantro that is similar to taking valium. However, this requires high doses, so it’s unlikely (and not suggested) to feed that much to your dog all at once, but continual doses over time may have an accumulative effect.
This final point is a bit of a catch-all in that the carotenoids found in cilantro are powerful antioxidants. These may improve various areas, including eye disease, inflammation, specific cancers, arthritis, macular degeneration, etc.
Ok, your dog’s breath isn’t really a “health” benefit, but it’s worth discussing. It’s popular to crush up cilantro before using it in a dish. When you do this, you’ll be treated to a wonderful aroma. Even I, one of those that don’t care for the taste, appreciate the smell of crushed cilantro. Reminds me of Mexican restaurants. Feeding your dog crushed cilantro can have a (usually small) impact and improve its bad breath to some degree.
Too much of a good thing is often not a good thing. This applies to humans but even more for dogs.
As mentioned above, vitamin A is a good thing. We all need it. It promotes better eye health and, therefore, better eyesight.
But too much isn’t safe for your pooch.
Does it make sense to give your dog cilantro because it provides vitamin A, or does it make more sense to give your dog the right dog food with vitamin A, and all other vitamins and nutrients, in the correct ratios?
We recommend the latter. Feed your dog the right dog food, and you don’t need to worry about supplementing with human-healthy or human-tasty foods and snacks.
I’ll make the point here again. The dog food your dog eats should contain all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your dog needs and, importantly, in the correct ratio. Therefore, feeding your dog anything else that has high vitamin content, for example, can give your dog too much of that vitamin. Most likely, you won’t be feeding your dog enough cilantro to cause a problem, but caution is still advised.
Dogs can be finicky creatures. Some dogs may be allergic to cilantro, so if you do feel the need to feed them cilantro, start in small doses to check for signs of allergies. Obviously, if you see any, this should end your cilantro experiment.
Cilantro is high in fiber, so keep this in mind. You probably won’t be feeding your dog enough to matter, but, again, you are adding fiber to a feeding regimen that (should) already have enough fiber. Tread carefully.
Cilantro is an interesting plant in that the leaves, stems, and seeds all have a different taste and different nutritional profiles.
The leaves and stems tend towards citrusy flavors, while the seeds lean more towards a nutty taste. Those who do not like the taste of cilantro leaves may still like the cilantro seeds, which are known as coriander.
Because of the flavor, the leaves and the seeds are not interchangeable in recipes, not that you are probably looking that deeply into cooking for your dog.
If you are feeding your dog cilantro for health benefits, it makes sense to feed the leaves and the seeds.
Not much at all.
Crush and sprinkle maybe one-half to one tablespoon of this fresh herb into your dog’s meal, if it’s a large dog. For small dogs, maybe a quarter or a half of a teaspoon of crushed cilantro is fine.
Start small, as recommended earlier, to ensure there are no allergic or other adverse reactions.
And remember, your dog may not like the taste!
Raw makes sense. Crush it up, mix it in with their food.
Cilantro is normally added after a dish is cooked. It is sprinkled on top for decoration and to give a dish a bit of extra flavor.
In some countries, large amounts of cilantro are added to dishes while cooking. This gives the dish a deeper and more robust cilantro taste. However, for your pooch, crushing and mixing in with the food is fine.
Hard to say. As mentioned earlier, about 10% of the human population thinks it tastes like soap. That official number is actually 4-14%, statistically. However, the scientific reasons behind that are genetic in nature, so it’s unlikely it extends to dogs as well.
Most likely, you’ll find your dog will scarf down its food whether you’ve mixed in a small amount of cilantro or not.
Yes, they can. But, as mentioned previously, should they? If you are feeding your dog cilantro for its health benefits, we recommend finding a top-rated dog food that offers the same benefits. This is the better approach as you know your dog will be getting the correct ratios, which is critical. If your dog has bad breath, there are specific chew toys and snacks to address this.
We often hear “can dogs eat [fill in the blank]” so we are working on a series of articles to discuss these topics. Please see our additional articles on our main dog health page.
Also for a more information overview about what your dog should and should not eat, be sure to take a look at our “Can dogs eat…” article where we cover over 80 different items.