Back when I was a chef for people, around this time of year, customers would ask "so what should I do with all this leftover pumpkin spice?". To which I'd always say "make more pumpkin pie!". These days there's no shortage of things to add pumpkin spice to, just walk into your coffee and doughnut shop and take a whiff! And let's be honest, how much pumpkin pie can you eat? (I choose not to answer that question. Don't judge me!)
These days, more often folks ask about pumpkin spice and is it safe for their dogs. The answer can be complicated but really doesn't have to be. The short version is "yes", your dog can have pumpkin spice, but in small amounts. Pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and sometimes mace (a thin cage that grows around the nutmeg). All of these spices, except ginger, have trace amounts of toxic properties than can be harmful to humans and dogs. However, any animal would be hard pressed to eat enough of these spices in there powdered form to do any harm. It's physically difficult to eat that much dry powder, but if I drop a whole nutmeg on the floor, I always scoop it up before Lily does.
How much is too much? The Pet Poison Helpline states that it takes more than one teaspoon of powder to cause problems for most pets, although essential oils can cause problems in lower dosages. The helpline also warns that a large cinnamon overdose can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate, low blood sugar, and liver disease. There is no data showing that dogs or humans have suffered long term illness due to pumpkin spice.
Still worried? Take a look at your holiday recipes and you'll find that they call for about a teaspoon or less of pumpkin spice. Now divide that by the number of portions and you'll see an even smaller amount. In my Pumpkin Chamomile Tea Cookies, I use just 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice for 32 cookies. Just enough for a little nose tickle for Lily and just enough to trick my kids into thinking I baking for them while it's cooking!
When it comes to spices (herbs are a different blog), a very little goes a long way. The spices that make up pumpkin spice are beautifully aromatic and can be used to bake with anytime of the year. Each of the spices has its own holistic benefits (November blog) and are a great addition to your dogs diet, in moderation. As always, discuss any concerns or changes in your dog's diet with the vet.
So, don't let that pumpkin spice bottle be pushed to the back of the cabinet after the holidays. Keep it front and center and I'll keep writing recipes!
Chef Scot Hill
Owner of Woof Creek