Who doesn’t like to pop a mint every now and then to refresh themselves? Mint has many benefits for our health, including improving digestion, providing nutrients and relieving cold symptoms.
Your dog might also be curious about tasting mint in different forms but some foods that may be good for you could be harmful or even toxic for your dog. We’ve put together this guide to answer all your questions about dogs and if they can consume mint safely.
What Is Mint?
Mint is a common name that we use for a large group of plants in the Lamiaceae family. These plants are simple to grow and can be found in a variety of climates.
They are flowering plants and most of them are aromatic. Plants in this family are often used in a variety of cuisines.
In this family, there are many genera of plants, one of which is the Mentha genus. Most of the plants we refer to when we use the word ‘mint’ belong to this genus.
There are different kinds of mint plants such as peppermint, spearmint, wild mint and so on. Mint can be consumed directly from the leaves or could be part of other edible products such as breath mints.
Can Dogs Eat Mint?
Yes, dogs can eat the leaves of certain kinds of mint in controlled quantities. Eating mint leaves from some plants can even have some health benefits for dogs.
However, eating mints from plants that are toxic to dogs, eating mint in excessive quantities or eating mint in other forms can have harmful effects on your dog’s health.
How Dogs Can Eat Mint
Dogs can eat most kinds of mint in the Mentha genus, such as spearmint, peppermint and wild mint. The most suitable form in which they can eat mint is to have a few of the leaves.
The leaves can be mixed with the dog’s regular food. Mint leaves can also be incorporated into recipes for dog treats.
Dogs should not have leaves from these mint plants in excess as that can lead to harmful effects on their health.
How Dogs Should Not Eat Mint
The English pennyroyal is a commonly found mint plant in the Mentha genus that dogs should not eat. The leaves of the English pennyroyal, in any quantity, are toxic to dogs.
Another commonly found plant, Perilla mint, is not part of the Mentha genus but is part of the larger mint family. This leaf is frequently used in cooking a lot of Asian cuisines.
However, this plant is toxic for dogs and they should not eat leaves from the Perilla mint plant in any quantity.
Mint may be had in other forms by human beings, such as mint chocolates or breath mints. Though your dogs might be curious to try them out due to the smell or because of seeing you eat them, both of these should not be eaten by dogs at all.
Chocolate is a known toxin for dogs as it contains caffeine and theobromine. The smallest amount of chocolate can be enough to poison a dog, leading to severe health risks or death.
Breath mints often incorporate added sugars or xylitol, which can lead to various health problems, including diabetes, liver failure or even death.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Hazelnuts?
Benefits of Eating Mint for Dogs
If your dog eats the suitable kinds of mint in small quantities, it can benefit your dog’s health in many ways.
One of the most obvious benefits of eating mint for dogs, as it is for humans, is that it freshens the breath and helps with mouth odor. Mint will reduce the bacterial, fungal and viral growth in the dog’s mouth to make its breath fresh.
Spearmint is an especially useful plant for this purpose. However, if your dog consistently has bad breath, then you should also look for the causes.
Dogs require maintenance of oral health through brushing and if brushing is not helping with the odor, then it might be time for a general checkup from the vet to rule out any other underlying causes!
Small amounts of essential oils derived from mint plants, such as peppermint, can also be beneficial in repelling fleas from your dog’s fur.
Simply mix a few drops of the mint essential oil with water and spray the mixture on your dog’s coat. The smell of mint will work wonders to repel fleas.
Mint helps with the digestive system in many ways. Firstly, when had in the form of leaves, mint is a fibrous food.
The natural fibers in mint help make the digestion process smoother and improve bowel movement.
Mint can also reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. If your dog suffers from a lot of gas, then mint can help a lot.
Mint can also relieve other symptoms of gastrointestinal issues such as stomach aches and diarrhea. Peppermint is an excellent option for these health benefits.
Allergies and Respiration
Mint is a common choice for people to relieve various ailments such as colds and seasonal allergies and it can have the same benefit for dogs as well.
Mint contains rosmarinic acid and menthol, which helps provide these benefits. Mint can help soothe your dog’s sinuses and reduce the buildup of mucus.
Mint is overall a highly nutritious food that can improve your dog’s health and immunity.
Mint contains various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, etc.
These nutrients promote the general nutrition of your dog, leading to strong bones, improved vision, well-nourished skin and so on.
Mint is also packed with antioxidants that will help improve your dog’s immunity and prevent harmful diseases such as heart ailments and cancer.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Chicken Feet?
Harms of Eating Mint
If your dog eats an excess of mint or eats mint in toxic forms, then it can lead to adverse harm to its health.
Eating toxic mint plants such as English pennyroyal mint or Perilla mint can lead to mint poisoning in dogs.
However, mint poisoning in dogs need not necessarily happen due to eating mints that are toxic for dogs.
Mint poisoning can occur from eating excess quantities of any mint as large amounts of the oils in the mint are harmful to the dog.
Mint poisoning can take the form of diarrhea, stomach aches, nausea, vomiting and, in many cases, liver failure.
In case your dog shows any of these symptoms or exhibits signs of discomfort and weakness after eating mint, it needs to be taken to a vet immediately.
Mint poisoning can be remedied by urgent health care by the vet that includes supplying fluids and vitamins.
The dog may often require treatment for dehydration, liver failure and kidney failure after mint poisoning.
If the dog has mint in the form of breath mints or chewing gums, it might get poisoned by xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is not harmful to human beings and is therefore used in many mint-based products.
If a dog eats something with xylitol in it, it can experience a dangerous low in its blood sugar levels. Within half an hour of ingesting xylitol, your dog might start showing the signs of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting, severe weakness and difficulty with walking.
Your dog might suffer from seizures or might become so weak that it collapses. This requires urgent care, which will involve administering fluids and glucose. Ingestion of xylitol, like mint, can also have adverse effects on the liver. Hence, the dog might also require treatment for liver failure.
How Much Mint to Feed Your Dog and How
As you can see, any excess amount of mint can lead to adverse consequences for your dog’s health. Despite the benefits of eating mint, a dog should only have up to a few leaves of mint in a day.
You can allow your dog to munch on some mint leaves from your garden under your supervision as long as you are sure that they are not of the harmful varieties.
You can also tear up a few leaves and mix them with your dog’s regular meals. There are various mint-based treats and snacks for dogs that you can buy while making sure only to give it the appropriate portions.
There are also various recipes for homemade dog foods such as biscuits, cookies and treats that incorporate the correct amounts of mint to help freshen your dog’s breath and reap the health benefits of mint.
The key is to keep track of the amount of mint you are using in these recipes and allow your dog to eat only the appropriate amount since it may be challenging to keep track of how much mint the dog is ingesting through various treats.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat String Cheese?
The Bottom Line
The leaves of mint plants such as peppermint, spearmint and wild mint are not at all harmful for dogs when had in small quantities.
In fact, a few leaves of mint can give a variety of health benefits such as reduced mouth odor, improved digestion, relief from allergies and illnesses and improved nutrition.
However, excess amounts of mint or ingesting mint in toxic forms can lead to adverse effects such as poisoning and liver failure.