Herbs and Spices in Dog Food

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Herbs and spices can be an important but often overlooked ingredient category when it comes to pet food. Herbs and spices have been used for centuries by humans add flavor and coloring to food and in many cases, to treat illness. They are also commonly used in commercially available dog food recipes for various reasons. I have analyzed the ingredient lists of over 2,500 dog foods and have determined the most commonly used herbs and spices.

herbs and spices

Herbs and spices, which are often near the bottom of the ingredient list, can provide many health benefits to a dog. For example, turmeric, one of my favorites, and rosemary can help with gastrointestinal issues and as a way to reduce inflammation, among many other benefits. Herbs and spices are also used in pet food recipes for non-nutritional reasons because they can be:

A source of natural color

A natural flavor enhancer

A natural preservative

A natural source of vitamins and antioxidants


Every one of these benefits are better obtained from the use of herbs and spices rather than artificially created ingredients.


Commonly Used Herbs and Spices in Dog Food

The graph below shows the frequency of the more commonly used herbs and spices in dog foods. Rosemary is by far the most commonly used, followed by parsley and then garlic. Garlic is somewhat controversial because it can be harmful to dogs in large quantities. I did not include salt in the analysis but for those interested, it is in about 52 % of all dog foods.


herbs and spices in dog food


Rosemary is a natural alternative to artificial, chemical preservatives which is one of the reasons it is so common.


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  1. wow, rosemary is the n°1? I thought it’s parsley , many thanks that I could learn another important fact about dog food :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MOANDAYMy Profile

  2. interesting didn’t know Rosemary was a natural alternative to preservatives. Thanks for sharing.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Preacher’s Letter To SantaMy Profile

  3. This is a great help. I need to tell my daughter to add some turmeric to her puppy’s food. Thanks!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…All They Want for Christmas is Dog Treats #RecipesMy Profile

  4. That is pretty interesting. I would never have guessed rosemary would be so popular!
    Emma recently posted…It’s A Touchdown!My Profile

  5. I’m surprised with rosemary being so popular too, it’s so great that many are using natural preservatives like that. Rosemary is also one of my favorite herbs to grow, I might have to add some to the dogs’ food or treats every once in a while! Mostly I’ve used parsley and cinnamon in homemade treats.
    Jan K recently posted…Last Minute Christmas Gift for Dog LoversMy Profile

  6. Interesting. 🙂 I’ve been thinking about adding parsley and tumeric to my dogs food, but I don’t think they’d be interested in eating rosemary straight. LoL picky eaters and all…
    DZ Dogs recently posted…NoxGear LightHound Review 2My Profile

  7. Cool post. We’ve used herbs/spices for a long time now. It’s great to see them being used in commercial diets more and more!
    Rama’s Mama recently posted…Fantabulous Gifts For Dogs & Their PeopleMy Profile

  8. There are more than I use in my food!!
    Julie recently posted…Christmas week!!My Profile

  9. I learned about rosemary earlier this year when I started researching ingredients in earnest. I mostly see it in dog treats since I don’t often review dry dog food. I’ve also seen natural sugar being used as a preservative as well as to make a treat chewy.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Natural Supplement Giving Hope to Dogs with CancerMy Profile

  10. Rosemary island of controversial too because it can increase risk of seizure activity. At least according to Dr. Dodds.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Useful Tips: Wound Care – Scissor-Free BandagingMy Profile

  11. I’ve seen rosemary in the ingredients more and more lately. I just started Harley on Dandelion and Milk Thistle for his new allergies and it seems to be working quite well. So happy with this route verses chemical intervention. Merry Christmas my friends –

  12. That is a very interesting statistic – it’s great news that herbs and spices seem to be included more and more in dog food!

    I’ve been adding homemade turmeric paste to the pups meals every day for several months now, as well as a little minced garlic. It’s a natural flea repellent and safe to add in small quantities (a 50 lb dog would have to eat one full head of garlic at every meal every single day in order to be affected negatively).

    • How is the garlic working – any fleas?
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy SantaMy Profile

  13. Not a single flea in our pack :-))

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