Can Dogs Have Mustard?
Ketchup and mayonnaise are probably the most commonly encountered—and the most kid-friendly— condiments in the United States, but mustard is not far behind. Often touted as a diet-friendly condiment due in part to its low calorie and sugar content, mustard shows up on our plates with some regularity. We often squirt mustard onto hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches, we mix it into a wide variety of sauces and dips, and we even cook it into dishes such as deviled eggs, casseroles, and even soups. Because it isn’t terrible for us, we are not shy about using mustard to improve the flavor of otherwise-bland healthy homemade foods.
You may love to smother your veggie burger in low-calorie mustard, but, when your dog comes sniffing along, you find yourself wondering if your favorite condiment is safe to share. Is it alright if Fido licks the leftover mustard off your plate? It seems like it would certainly be a better idea than giving them higher-calorie, fatty or sugary options like ketchup and mayonnaise, but you’re still not totally sure if it’s safe or not. It’s a great way to flavor our own food, but what about our pets’ dinners? Can you give your dog mustard?
The answer is no, dogs cannot eat mustard. It is true that most condiments are considered to be unhealthy for our pets—they are often loaded with fat, calories, sugar, and salt—but mustard can be downright dangerous. Whether you purchase spicy, Dijon, honey, or plain old mild yellow mustard, it is not a good idea to let your canine companion have a taste. The main ingredient in all types of mustard—mustard seed—is toxic to dogs.
If your dog licked a tiny bit of mustard off the kitchen floor, they will probably be okay (just keep an eye on them for the next 24 hours or so), but you should avoid giving this food to your pet intentionally. If you want to add flavor to your dog’s meals, look for canine-friendly herbs, fruits, or vegetables.
Surprisingly, standard yellow mustard (especially homemade mustard!) may offer some small health benefits for humans. In addition to being lower in fat, sugar, and calories than several other popular condiments, mustard contains small amounts of potassium, which is crucial for heart health, blood pressure, and muscular functioning, and phosphorus, which aids in the development of strong bones and teeth. Sadly, it is unlikely that mass-produced yellow mustard would make a big difference in overall health, even if your pet could eat it in substantial quantities.
Homemade mustard, made from mustard seeds, is not safe for your dogs. Mustard greens, however, are considered safe for pets—and they can offer many of the same health benefits as the seeds! Mustard greens offer potassium and phosphorus, as well as a moderate amount of dietary fiber.
The fiber in mustard greens may be able to aid in doggy digestion. Fiber can absorb water, which allows it to treat problems on both ends of the spectrum; it can bring fluid into the colon to soften hard or impacted stool, but it can also soak up excess water in the intestine to help make stool firmer. Adding more high-fiber leafy greens into your dog’s diet, including mustard greens, may help them have fuller, healthier, more regular bowel movements. Though our pets do not require as much dietary fiber as we do, many of them could probably benefit from a slight boost in fiber intake.
Dogs often struggle to process large amounts of raw vegetables, so it may behoove you to cook or puree mustard greens before serving them to your pooch. This will make the food much easier on their stomach, as well as improve absorption of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For dogs, steaming mustard greens is usually the best cooking method.
Things to Consider
Though mustard greens are safe, it bears repeating that mustard seeds, and mustard as a condiment, are not recommended for canine consumption. Though a lick of yellow mustard will likely pass through the body without causing any noticeable health problems, a larger amount of mustard will probably make your dog sick. Feeding your dog mustard can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. Severe vomiting can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that can cause permanent damage or kill your pet.
If your dog has ingested a large quantity of mustard, it’s a good idea to seek veterinary care sooner rather than later—your veterinarian will be able to induce vomiting or utilize other techniques to minimize absorption. The sooner your dog gets veterinary care, the better chance they will have at avoiding serious or long-term health problems.
In conclusion, while mustard greens are safe (and even healthy) for dogs in small amounts, mustard as a condiment is not. You probably do not need to worry if your furry friend gets a small taste of mustard by accident, but, if they’ve eaten a substantial amount, it may be a good idea to contact a veterinarian.