Dill is an aromatic, flavorful herb that hails from South-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area. In the years since its discovery, it’s been cultivated across many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and America. It belongs to the same family as many other popular herbs and vegetables including caraway, parsley, cumin, celery, ajwain, anise, coriander, chervil, carrot, and parsnip. You might use dill in your own cooking, You might even grow it in your garden. But what about your cat? Can they take a little nibble without doing themselves any harm?
Can Cats Eat Dill?
We all know that many of the foods we enjoy aren’t great for our pets. Some will give them a bit of a tummy ache, others will require an emergency call to the vet. Chocolate, onions, garlic… none of these are going to do a cat’s health even the tiniest amount of good. Many spices and seasonings are equally unsafe for feline consumption, even in small amounts. Which brings us around to dill. It’s a herb we usually use to add seasoning to our food. Most seasonings are off-limits for cats. Does that mean dill is too?
Actually, no. Unlike certain other herbs, a few pieces of dill won’t do your cat any harm at all. And it’s not just us who say so. Even the ASPCA agrees, categorizing dill as ‘non-toxic.’ But just because something is safe to eat doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good to eat. After all, paper is technically edible to humans. That doesn’t mean chomping down on a notebook is a good idea. So, is dill more than just ‘OK’ to eat? Can it actually do a cat’s health any good? In humans, dill has traditionally been used for all kinds of digestive complaints, as well as liver and gall bladder problems. It’s also known as a great source of immune-boosting antioxidants. Does it offer the same kind of properties to cats?
Is Dill Good for Cats?
Dill is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It’s packed with B complex, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, copper – it’s even got a trace of magnesium in it. Obviously, you’ll need to eat a LOT of dill to get anywhere close to your recommended daily allowance of these nutrients, but still- every little helps. According to some dill fans, the tasty herb offers many of the same benefits to cats as it does to us. The antioxidants in its leaves and seeds are said to help ward off numerous diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. The high content of tannins (a specific type of antioxidant), is reported to boost immunity and have antimicrobial effects, while its anti-inflammatory properties are said to do everything from reducing elevated blood pressure and alleviating chronic inflammation to lowering high LDL cholesterol.
But there’s a problem with all this. Dill is packed with lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other good stuff. That’s not in question. What is in question is the idea that cats can actually utilize any of that good stuff. And there, we run into an issue. Cats are flesh eaters. They don’t ‘do’ the green stuff. Their digestions are evolutionarily hard-wired to process all the nutrients their bodies need from meat. They don’t nibble on lettuce on chomp on carrots because they can’t. Or rather, they can, but without the enzymes needed to digest all that fibrous plant material, their digestive systems aren’t going to be in the best of moods for a few days.
Much though we like to think of our cats as hairy little babies, they aren’t. Cats are very different creatures to us, with very different nutritional needs and digestions. They don’t get the same nutritional value from plant food as we do, regardless of how packed with vitamins and minerals that food is. So sure, cats can eat dill. But will it boost their immunity, ward of infections, and make their coat’s extra glossy? No.
What Kinds of Dill Are Safe for Cats?
Providing it’s not been blended with anything else, both fresh and dried dill is fine for cats to nibble on. However, the jury’s still out on essential oils. Some people say dill oil is perfectly fine in very small amounts, others say it’s too concentrated to be considered safe. As it’s usually better to veer on the side of safety when it comes to your pet’s health, you might want to avoid it. Also avoid giving your cat the hard inner stem of the dill plant. While it’s edible, it’s very difficult to chew and could pose a potential choking hazard.
Can Cats Eat Dill Pickles?
As Happy Cat Corner writes, dill pickles aren’t a danger for your cat, but due to the fact they’re packed in salt and sugar (neither of which are on the ‘ok’ list), they’re best avoided. If your cat nibbles one from your plate, don’t worry. Just don’t let them make a habit of it.
The Safe List
Seeing as we’re on the topic of herbs, let’s look at some of the other common herbs we might have in our kitchens. Which of these are safe for cats, and which ones should be avoided at all costs? According to Litter-Robot, the following herbs are all fine to feed your cat in moderation:
- Licorice Root
- Witch Hazel
- Cat’s Claw and Dandelion Root
The following are ones to avoid at all costs:
- St. John’s Wort
In small quantities, dill won’t do your cat’s health any harm. It’s not necessarily going to do it much good either (all those antioxidants and vitamins and minerals are likely to go unutilized), but a small nibble isn’t going to end in an emergency run to the vets. But it’s worth remembering that as with most things, moderation is key. Dill is fibrous. While fiber might be good for our bowel health, it doesn’t work in the same way for cats. Too much dill (or any other plant food, for that matter) is likely to lead to digestive upset, including diarrhea and vomiting. Keep the quantities small and infrequent to avoid any issues.