Is Rosemary Bad for Dogs?
We are now up to the letter “R” in our dog food ingredient series. As we are nearing the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, today’s ingredient is rosemary, a common component of many stuffing recipes.
What is Rosemary?
Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub that has leaves similar to hemlock needles. The leaves are commonly used as a flavoring in foods such as stuffing and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. Rosemary extract is the oily resin derived from the leaves of the rosemary plant.
Common names for Rosemary
Common names for rosemary include polar plant, compass-weed, or compass plant. In dog food we will only see either rosemary or rosemary extract listed in some foods’ ingredients.
Why is Rosemary in Dog Food?
Rosemary is added to dog food because it is an antioxidant and acts as a natural food preservative.
Is Rosemary Commonly Used in Dog Food?
Rosemary is a very common ingredient in dog food. We found rosemary or rosemary extract is in about 36% of all dog foods. It is much more common in dry foods- rosemary is present in 57% of all dry foods- most likely due to the fact that it is a natural preservative.
Common Benefits or Risks of Rosemary
Rosemary contains antioxidants that can reduce free radicals in the body. Rosemary has been used to support brain function in the form of clearer thinking, improved memory, and elevated mood. In one study, low doses of Rosemary improved recall speed, although high doses were associated with a decline in recall speed.
Some research supports the notion that rosemary can help prevent some forms of cancer including colon, breast, liver, and stomach cancers, as well as melanoma and leukemia.
Rosemary might also strengthen heart function and help dogs that have been under stress.
Despite its recognized benefits and overall safety, there is some thought that rosemary might trigger seizures in dogs. Yet, there is no research substantiating the relationship between rosemary and canine seizures. Some herbalists believe that if there is a linkage, it is related to the dosage where high levels (as found in oils and extracts) might increase the risk of a seizure in dogs that are prone to them. Such levels are not likely in dog food as rosemary is an ancillary ingredient. Obviously, if your dog is subject to seizures, check with your vet about an appropriate diet.
Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level
Rosemary’s preservative properties make it a far better ingredient than artificial preservatives. Furthermore, rosemary seems to provide a multitude of health benefits to a dog. For these reasons, it gets the SlimDoggy Happy rating. However, if your pet is prone to seizures, check your pet food to see if rosemary is in the recipe and talk with your vet about the risks.
Miscellaneous facts about Rosemary
Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet said “There’s Rosemary….that’s for remembrance…”
Rosemary is an evergreen bush that grows to a height of two to six feet with pale blue flowers and spiky leathery leaves
Rosemary is one of the most commonly used herbs in Italian cooking.
Sources and further reading
Editor’s note: to view all of the dog food ingredients we have covered, search on the tag “ingredients” or click here:
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