Can Dogs Eat Pesto?

Dog eating

Short answer
No, dogs cannot eat pesto. In theory it's possible to make a pesto that's safe for dogs, but you'd have to adapt the recipe so much that you’d end up with something that barely resembles the basil pesto you know and love.

Long answer
We're going to dive headfirst into this topic by breaking down the traditional basil pesto recipe into its individual ingredients to see whether it contains anything that might be dangerous or toxic for your dog to eat.

Garlic
Whilst some dog breeds are more sensitive to garlic than others, as a rule it should be considered a toxin for all domestic animals. At best it can make them gassy, at worst it can damage their red blood cells which can lead to anaemia.

Basil
Not many dogs like the taste of basil, but if yours enjoys it then it won't do them any harm. It's not toxic and could even have some health benefits, although in large quantities, basil and other fibrous herbs can lead to stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Salt
Just like humans, dogs need a small amount of salt in their diet to keep their cells working properly. In high quantities though, salt can lead to dehydration and vomiting, and an excessive amount can even lead to salt poisoning.

Nuts
Pine nuts are perfectly fine for your dog to munch on. However, many supermarket sauces substitute pine nuts for less expensive nuts and some of these may be toxic for your dog.

If you inadvertently feed the wrong kind of nut to your dog - almonds or hazelnuts in particular - it can wreak havoc on their digestive system. Apart from anything else, nuts present a choking hazard - and because they are both high in fat and calories, eating excessive amounts can lead to obesity and pancreatic issues.

Cheese
In moderation, some cheeses can be fed to dogs as a treat, although just like humans, some are lactose intolerant. Over consumption can lead to weight gain or vomiting - and blue cheese should never pass their lips. Unless you know your dog can eat certain cheeses without any adverse effects, it’s simply not worth the risk.

Oil
In small amounts, olive or sunflower oil is positively encouraged to feed to your pets as it has been found to defend their immune systems, boost their energy, and improve brain function. If your dog is on a weight-loss diet though, excess fat should be avoided.

Summary
For a whole variety of reasons, pesto is not something we recommend feeding to dogs or cats. In small quantities it's unlikely to pose any immediate risk, but there's a plethora of other treats that are far better for their health and which they would probably much prefer anyway.