Did you know sesame seeds are non-toxic to dogs? For many generations, people have been feeding sesame seeds to their dogs without any problems. Most dogs enjoy the tiny, slightly bitter, slightly nutty seeds that are packed with nutrition; but there’s a problem…
If you feed your dog whole sesame seeds, they won’t get any of the nutritional benefits. A dog’s teeth and digestive system are not effective at breaking down and digesting small seeds. The dog ends up swallowing the seeds whole, and that’s exactly how they come out the next day.
The solution? Tahini! Tahini is nothing more than lightly toasted sesame seeds ground into a fine paste, sort of like peanut butter. It has a wonderful nutty flavor, and people often use it to make salad dressings, hummus, and sauces. My wife and I use it all the time in our recipes, and we recently discovered our dog loves it just as much as we do.
I give it to her by simply drizzling a small amount over her dog food. One minute later, the bowl is empty, and she’s licking it clean.
I know that everything I’m telling you might sound a bit weird, but I’m certainly not the first person to do this. In her book, The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat (1985), author Juliette de Bairacli-Levy writes that she feeds her dogs sesame seeds as a regular part of their daily diet. Her favorite method? Lightly toasting them, and grinding them into a paste. In other words, making tahini.
Juliette first began treating dogs with plant-based medicine all the way back in the 1930s at a clinic in London, and successfully cured hundreds of sick dogs during her time there.
Tahini Nutrition and Health Benefits for Dogs
Tahini is loaded with beneficial nutrients for dogs. Many people argue that a dog’s ordinary dry or wet dog food should give them all the nutrients they need, in the perfect amounts; but the truth is, commercial dog foods are often full of low-quality, filler ingredients. Worse yet, some commercial dog foods are actually bad for dogs – click here to find out why you shouldn’t buy grain-free dog food.
Sesame seeds are an all-natural, nutritional powerhouse. Like all seeds, they are a good source of protein and healthy fatty acids, but they are also high in copper, manganese, selenium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, molybdenum, and vitamin B1.
In addition to that, they are also a good source of dietary fiber, and they even contain special substances – sesamin and sesamolin – that belong to a family of fibers called lignans. These lignans have been shown to improve vitamin E stores, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and protect the liver from oxidative damage.
Tahini for Active Dogs
One of the reasons I decided to start feeding my dog tahini is because she’s highly active, and needs more calories than the average dog. We live on 13 acres, and she spends hours running around every day – emphasis on running. I think she fancies herself a professional jackrabbit hunter, though she’s never come close to actually catching one.
Tahini is a high-calorie food. One serving – 2 tbsp – contains about 190 calories. I give my dog about 1 tbsp every night – maybe 2 tbsp if it’s been an exceptionally active day for her.
If you have the time and patience, you can also make dog treats using tahini as a binder for the other ingredients. Think of them as doggie energy bars. PETA has a recipe on their website that I recommend – just swap out the peanut butter for tahini.
Tahini vs. Peanut Butter
Tahini and peanut butter have similar benefits for dogs, but there’s a lot more you have to watch out for with peanut butter. For example, most peanut butters on the shelf at your local supermarket are not just ground peanuts. They contain added ingredients that are bad for dogs, like sugar, or even worse, the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs, and can even be fatal.
I used to put natural peanut butter on my dog’s food, but I was having some problems with that… First of all, it contains way too much sodium for a dog, which is why experts recommend only giving dogs unsalted peanut butter – unfortunately for my dog, I like my peanut butter salty.
The second problem I had with giving her peanut butter was that I couldn’t drizzle it over her food like I can with tahini. Tahini is almost more like a liquid than a paste. It’s really easy to pour it over food. However, the peanut butter needs to be spooned onto the food in scoops. Every time I did this, my dog would eat the clump of peanut butter, leave the rest of the food behind, and then look at me, like, “I’m ready for round two of peanut butter!”
Now that I’ve been using tahini instead, my dog finishes all of her food, licks the dish clean, and then plops down on the couch next to us, totally satisfied. And since tahini is literally just ground sesame seeds, I don’t have to worry about added sugar, salt, etc.
My Advice Before You Start Feeding Your Dog Tahini
As always, the first thing you should do is check with your dog’s vet. As long as the vet doesn’t object to it, start off with tiny amounts to make sure your dog doesn’t have any negative reactions.
Even though it’s unlikely your dog will have any negative reactions, it’s always best to play it safe. You never know, maybe your dog has a rare sesame allergy. That being said, I couldn’t find any reports of dogs having an allergic reaction to sesame seeds, or the seeds having any other kind of negative effect on canines.
I’d also recommend only adding tahini to your dog’s food once per day. More than that is probably going to be too many calories, especially for small dogs and overweight dogs.
In summary, tahini is great for dogs, but only in moderation. Always remember, it’s a concentrated food that’s high in calories, so you should only give it to your dog in small amounts as a supplemental treat.
Juliette de Bairacli-Levy (1985). The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat.
Anna Burke (October 25, 2017). Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter? Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-peanut-butter/
Dr. Suzi Beber, Honouris Causa (March 24, 2015). Seeds you can share with your dog. Retrieved from https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/top-7-seeds-for-your-dog/
- Can Australian Shepherds Have Short Hair? (Yes, and It’s OK) - May 28, 2020
- Can Dogs Eat Za’atar Spice? - May 27, 2020
- Can Dogs Eat Beyond Meat? - May 17, 2020