When Pumpkin Spice is Not So Nice

November 13, 2020

a cat look past a scratching post licking their lips

As daylight hours start to wane, many of us are drawn inside to the warmth and delicious aromas of fall baking. As it turns out, our companion animal friends are drawn toward those same delectable scents. Unfortunately, these yummy treats are not always so kind to our four-legged friends. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to know all of the potential hazards associated with the herbs and spices commonly used in your favorite fall dishes. Read on to learn more! 

Cinnamon: Small exposures to cinnamon may just result in mild stomach upset, but with larger exposures, pets can develop significant irritation of the throat and stomach, hyperactivity and fast heart rates. If cinnamon is accidentally inhaled, it can lead to coughing, trouble breathing and pneumonia. 

Nutmeg: Nutmeg contains a chemical that can cause a wide variety of problems when large amounts are ingested. Exposed animals can develop vomiting, dry mouth, agitation, dilated or constricted pupils, fast heart rate, difficulty walking or standing up and hallucinations.

Garlic and Onion: Minced or powdered garlic and onion are just concentrated forms of the plants so it can take much less to cause a significant problem for a pet. Cats are particularly sensitive to these spices. Garlic and onion can damage red blood cells, leading to anemia. 

Salt: Yes, even salt can cause life-threatening problems for our pets in the right quantities. Over-ingesting salt can cause difficulty walking, tremors, seizures and may result in a coma. 

Marijuana: The popularity of this herb continues to rise, and it’s finding its way into many baked goods. Even a small amount of marijuana can cause difficulty walking, slow heart rate and low body temperature.

Xylitol: While not an herb or a spice, this sweetener does find its way into many baked goods. Dogs can develop life-threatening low blood sugar and liver damage from ingesting foods containing xylitol. Be sure to keep this substance away from your dog and check all ingredient labels before giving your dog a treat.

So just remember this fall, that while it’s fine for our furry friends to smell our baked creations, it would be best to leave the tasting to us! You can find more information about potential food toxins with APCC’s full list

If you think your pet may have been exposed to a toxic amount of any of these substances, please call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)426-4435 or your veterinarian.