That little mound of pungent green paste served alongside your sushi is wasabi. While it adds zing to meals for humans, is it safe for dogs if they happen to gulp some down? Wasabi’s spicy flavor comes from natural compounds dogs process differently than people. Read on to learn if and how dogs can consume wasabi.
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi is a member of the Brassicaceae family of plants, making it a relative of mustard, horseradish, and cabbage. It grows naturally in shady, damp areas of Japan.
The knobby wasabi roots are grated into a fine pale green paste used to flavor foods. It is valued for its spicy, sinus-clearing properties. Authentic wasabi offers antimicrobial health benefits for humans when consumed fresh.
Is Wasabi Toxic to Dogs?
Wasabi is not toxic to canines per se. However, it does contain compounds like isothiocyanates that dogs’ bodies struggle to digest properly:
- Irritation – Wasabi’s pungency inflames mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, throat and stomach lining. Too much causes pain.
- Gastrointestinal signs – Ingesting substantial amounts may induce vomiting and diarrhea.
- Respiratory reactions – Snorting the fumes can cause nasal passage swelling, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing in sensitive dogs.
So while a trace amount of wasabi generally causes negligible issues, consuming substantial quantities risks gastrointestinal, respiratory, or skin irritation in dogs. It’s best avoided.
Benefits of Wasabi for Dogs
There are no proven benefits of feeding dogs wasabi. The compounds providing health perks for people require regular dietary consumption better suited to human physiology.
Exposing dogs to spicy seasonings like wasabi should only be done rarely in tiny amounts if at all. Any gastro-soothing or antimicrobial effects are available more safely through blander food choices tailored for canines.
Dangers of Dogs Ingesting Wasabi
Potential dangers if a dog ingests a large dose of wasabi include:
- Chemical burns to the lips, gums, and tongue
- Painful inflammation of the esophagus and stomach
- Gastroenteritis causing vomiting and diarrhea
- Dehydration from fluid loss in vomit and stools
- Respiratory irritation if fumes are inhaled
- Disorientation, tremors, seizures in severe toxicity
While most wasabi exposure causes merely drooling and upset stomach, the risks warrant keeping dogs away from this spicy condiment. Seek veterinary treatment if concerning symptoms develop after exposure.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Wasabi
Should your dog manage to lick up some wasabi:
- Remain calm to avoid increasing your dog’s stress.
- Wipe out the mouth area gently with a warm wet cloth if burned.
- Offer small sips of room temperature water to dilute the spices.
- Limit food for 12-24 hours to allow the gastrointestinal tract to rest.
- Call your vet or poison control if symptoms seem severe.
- Monitor for improved appetite, normal bowel movements, and energy over the next 24 hours.
With prompt supportive care, acute wasabi ingestion generally resolves on its own as it passes through your dog’s system. Prevent access going forward.
Due to its extreme pungency and irritating qualities, wasabi should be kept away from dogs at all times. While small licked amounts may only cause mouth discomfort and drooling, larger ingested doses can cause more dangerous toxicity requiring swift veterinary treatment. Protect your curious canine companion by enjoying spicy wasabi safely out of paw’s reach!