Can I Feed Pesto To My Dog?

Dog looking at his bowl

In theory it's possible to make a “dog-friendly” pesto, but you would have to adapt the recipe so much that you’d end up with something that would barely even resemble the sauce you know and love.

Here we've broken down the traditional basil pesto recipe into its individual ingredients to see whether it may be suitable for your dog.

Garlic
Whilst some dog breeds are more sensitive to garlic than others, as a general 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 in itself do much harm. It's not toxic to dogs 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 too high quantities though, salt can lead to dehydration and vomiting, and an excessive amount can even lead to salt poisoning.

Nuts
Pine nuts are actually seeds and 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. If you feed the wrong kind of nut to your pet - almonds and hazelnuts for example - 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 dogs 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 probably 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, the excessive fat should be avoided.

Summary
For a whole variety of reasons, pesto is not something we'd recommend feeding to your dog. 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 much prefer anyway.

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