Cinnamon has many benefits in a person's diet. It is a powerful antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, it can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity to diabetics that might be insulin resistant, it may help with neurodegenerative diseases, and so much more! It is a common staple present in pantries all across America, but is is safe for your dog to consume?
The short answer is yes. Cinnamon is a relatively safe spice for dogs to consume. As will be mentioned later on, though, the benefits that may be touted elsewhere aren't really fully understood in the context of canines, and feeding your dog cinnamon doesn't come without some level of care and discretion.
What Types of Cinnamon are Safe for Dogs?
Cinnamon is a type of spice that is a staple in most American kitchens. It can be used in both sweet desserts and breakfast dishes as well as savory cooking. Cinnamon is derived from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree.
There are two different types of cinnamon commonly found in markets all over the world. There is Ceylon cinnamon, also called 'true' cinnamon or 'sweet' cinnamon, and Cassia cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon specifically comes from the C. cassia tree, also called the C. aromaticum tree, found throughout China, whereas ceylon cinnamon comes from the C. verum tree, found in Sri Lanka. Cassia cinnamon is dark brown-red in color with thicker sticks and a rougher texture than ceylon cinnamon. It is also more inexpensive than ceylon cinnamon and the more commonly consumed type throughout the world, including in the United States. Unless you are shopping at a high end, specialty spice market, the cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon in your pantry and at your local grocery are undoubtedly cassia cinnamon.
Potential Health Benefits
The health benefits of a diet containing cinnamon are marked. Cinnamon contains such a concentrated source of antioxidants, it has been shown to outrank 26 different spices, including 'superfoods' garlic and oregano! It has been shown to lower total cholesterol, 'bad' LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while the 'good' HDL cholesterol levels remain stable.
It has been shown to inhibit the protein buildup that is hallmark to Alzheimer's as well as protecting neurons, normalizing neurotransmitter function, and improving motor function in mice with Parkinson's. Cinnamon can also lower circulating blood sugar levels as well as increasing a person's sensitivity to insulin, both of which can be therapeutic for diabetics. There is even some research looking into cinnamon's anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties!
With all of these exciting breakthroughs in human medicine, it stands to reason that well-meaning dog owners would be wanting to give cinnamon to their dog in hopes of seeing these same results. Our understanding of the uses of cinnamon in integrative human medicine is still relatively new, though, and there isn't as much research into if these applications in human medicine translate to our canine companions as well.
Potential Health Concerns
It should be noted that coumarin, a naturally occurring compound found in plants, can be isolated in both cassia cinnamon and ceylon cinnamon. It has a fragrant, sweet odor and is often added to fragrances and cosmetics, but it also used as a precursor to such anticoagulant medications such as warfarin and Coumadin.
Ingesting excessive amounts of coumarin can be toxic to both the liver and the kidneys in people. There is research to show the upper limits of a daily allowance in a person's diet. Unfortunately, there is no information regarding how much daily coumarin can cause liver or kidney toxicity in dogs. Cassia cinnamon is a more concentrated source of coumarin than ceylon cinnamon, having ~1 percent coumarin while ceylon cinnamon only has ~0.004 percent. So, while both varieties have relatively small concentrations of coumarin in them, ceylon cinnamon is much safer in regard to the potential for coumarin toxicity.
Though cinnamon is technically safe food for dogs to ingest, it doesn't come free from concern and the uses and benefits of adding cinnamon to your dog's daily diet aren't fully known yet. If you want to incorporate cinnamon into your dog's diet, seek the advice of your veterinarian before adding it to your dog's food and before filling your essential oil diffuser with cinnamon oil.