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Nutmeg Toxicity in Dogs & Cats

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As the days get colder and darker here in Minnesota, people are busy planning winter get-togethers and heating up the oven for holiday goodies. Whether you’re whipping up a batch of gingerbread cookies, perfecting your spice cake, or doctoring your eggnog, we bet you’re stocking up on nutmeg for your favorite seasonal dishes. But pet parents, not so fast! Before you start adding a dash of nutmeg to everything, we encourage you to step away from the spices and learn why nutmeg can pose a serious danger to your dog and cat!

Understanding Nutmeg Toxicity  

Nutmeg contains myristicin, a narcotic that can cause hallucinations in pets (and actually, in people!) A toxic dose can be as little as one teaspoon of ground nutmeg to two or three whole nutmegs.   

After your pet eats nutmeg, symptoms can occur rapidly. Common symptoms include:    

  • Vomiting 
  • Tremors 
  • Seizures 
  • Incoordination
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • High doses can even be fatal  

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Treatment 

If the pet is showing symptoms, treatment for nutmeg intoxication is primarily supportive care. If a large amount of nutmeg is suspected to have been ingested, a tube may be used to flush the pet’s stomach and remove as much of the spice as possible. Activated charcoal is then given to help bind the toxins that have already entered the bloodstream. If your dog or cat does eat a large amount of nutmeg, hospitalization is recommended so the veterinary team can closely monitor your pet’s vitals and changes in mentation or seizures. Typically, pets stay in-hospital for 24-48 hours. 

Prevention Tips 

As with all toxins, the best prevention for nutmeg toxicity is to keep your spice rack and whole nutmegs (in air-tight containers) out of your pet’s reach. While baking or cooking, we also recommend keeping pets out of the kitchen – especially if you’re using any toxic ingredients 

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If you suspect your dog or cat ate ground nutmeg or food that contained nutmeg, we encourage contacting ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. They can help determine if your pet consumed a toxic amount of nutmeg and if veterinary care is recommended.  

Megan Brewer, DVM, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota


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