Tahini is delicious, rich, and wholesome! You can find this sesame seed paste in many cuisines around the world, like those in the Middle East, Israel, China, Africa, Japan, Turkey, Iran, and Korea. In addition to providing several vitamins and minerals, tahini is a tasty way to add healthy fats and powerful antioxidants to your diet. But what about your dogs? Can your furry friend eat tahini?
The good news is that tahini is not toxic to dogs, and it is considered safe in small amounts. However, much like peanut butter, tahini is very high in fat, so if your pet has an upset stomach, it could aggravate the situation or even lead to pancreatitis.
In this article, we find out more about this popular paste, go over what it is made of, and even learn how to prepare healthy tahini treats for your dog. Let’s dive in!
What Is Tahini?
Tahini, known as “tahina” in some countries, is a ground sesame butter or paste used traditionally in many cuisines, especially in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. This paste is made of hulled sesame seeds, oil, and salt. Hulled sesame seeds will be roasted, ground, and emulsified with unflavored oil to make a creamy, smooth seed butter that is pourable.
On the surface, you may notice that it is similar to peanut butter, but its taste is different. The nutty flavor of tahini is strong, earthy, and slightly bitter. And there is a growing trend for using tahini as a baking ingredient in the United States to add a creamy texture and a subtle nutty flavor to banana bread, cookies, and tarts, as well as working as an emulsifier for dressings and dips.
Tahini is rich in fiber, protein, and many critical vitamins and minerals.
Is Tahini Safe for Dogs?
Tahini is safe for dogs to consume, but only in small amounts. Because this paste is rich and fatty, overfeeding it can upset your dog’s stomach and result in gastrointestinal illness or trigger more severe conditions like pancreatitis. In addition, you may already know that fatty foods lead to weight gain, and weight gain causes many health problems in dogs. Therefore, moderation is the key.
Health Risks of Giving Tahini to Dogs
Tahini will become an unhealthy food source if you offer this paste as a staple rather than an occasional addition to your dog’s menu. Before giving your furry friend tahini, you might want to consider the following possible health risks:
Vomiting and Diarrhea
Fat content is the primary concern when it comes to feeding dogs tahini. Some canines struggle to digest fatty foods, especially if they have digestive issues. They may start vomiting, lose their appetite, and even get diarrhea. However, this is an unlikely outcome from eating a small amount of tahini.
Weight Gain and Obesity
Tahini is very calorie-dense; one 15-gram tablespoon contains nearly 89 calories. For canines who are physically active, this might not be a problem, but excessive intake is problematic for those who lead sedentary lives.
Dogs will gain weight if they consume more calories than they burn, just like us. Obesity increases the risk of several diseases and reduces the dog’s overall quality of life. So, if your canine has weight issues, keep an eye on how much tahini they consume.
Too Much Salt
Salt is a tricky nutrient because it is beneficial in small doses but harmful in larger ones. Tahini from the store is commonly too salty, which is a problem, particularly for dogs with kidney issues.
Sesame Seed Allergy
Last but not least, although it is not very common, there are some dogs that are allergic to sesame seeds. Therefore, tahini will upset the dog’s digestion if it is sensitive to this type of nut.
Important Considerations When Feeding Tahini to a Dog
Every dog needs a balanced diet that is nutrient-rich and provides the canine with all of their requirements. Veterinarians advise against giving your pet more than 10% of their calories from other sources because doing so can throw off the balanced criteria.
As mentioned above, owners should only feed tahini as an occasional menu addition, not a staple or meal substitute. Remember that moderation is key when offering anything other than your pet’s regular food.
If this is your first time offering tahini to your dog, it’s best to start slowly. For example, if your canine is a medium-sized dog, try a max of half-teaspoon and wait 48 hours to see if any adverse effects develop. If your dog starts showing unexplained signs like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, inappetence, and abnormal behavior, this addition may not be suitable for them.
Homemade Tahini Without Salt
You can either make your own tahini or go to the store. However, when using this paste as an ingredient for your canine’s treats, it’s best to prepare it at home because store-bought tahini can be high in salt, which is bad for dogs.
There are two ingredients in homemade tahini for our canines: hulled sesame seeds and unflavored oil. Salt is the third ingredient in the traditional recipe, but you should skip it because sesame seeds are already nutty and salty. Here’s the process:
Step 1: Toast the Sesame Seeds
Place sesame seeds in a large, dry saucepan over medium-low heat, and then stir continuously with a spoon until the seeds turn slightly dark and become fragrant.
Step 2: Grind Sesame Seeds Until Crumbly
After the sesame seeds have cooled, add them to the food processor bowl, secure the cover, and process until a crumbly paste starts to form.
Step 3: Add Oil and Blend Into a Smooth Cream
Add a few teaspoons of unflavored oil to blend into a smoother paste. You can freely modify the texture.
While tahini is not toxic to dogs and is made out of mostly safe ingredients, the salt content might be excessive. By preparing a homemade version without salt, you could make it even more dog friendly. While tahini can be a way to provide variability to your dog’s occasional treat flavors, it is not necessarily a food that a dog needs to eat, especially considering that it is high in calories and mostly fat. However, if your dog ate a bit of tahini that dripped from the spoon to the floor, there shouldn’t be a reason for concern.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock