Can Dogs Eat Mint? What Are The Risks

mint plant
© Cat Act Art/

Written by Amber LaRock

Updated: October 7, 2022

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Mint is a common plant found in homes throughout the world. With it being such a refreshing garnish that brightens up any dish, many wonder if our dogs can enjoy this fresh treat as well. Though dogs can eat mint leaves in small servings, there are a few safety details you should be aware of before offering it to your pup.

Let’s dive into the details!

What Is Mint?

Mint is a common herb that is known for its aromatic scent. There are up to 24 species of mint plants that exist in the Lamiaceae family, and hundreds of hybrids that exist around the world. Though there are many types of mint plants that exist, the most common forms of mint found in the home are peppermint, spearmint, and apple mint. Not only can mint be found in plant form, but it has now been used to flavor a variety of snacks.

Is Mint Safe For Dogs To Eat?

Most household mint plants are safe for dogs to eat as long as you follow a few safety guidelines. Dogs can typically eat one to two mint leaves without any harm, as long as it is just offered as a special treat. Mint leaves should never become a staple in your dog’s diet, but rather something that’s offered once or twice a week tops. Offering a larger or more frequent serving could lead to diarrhea and vomiting in some canine friends.

Can Some Types Of Mint Be Toxic To Dogs?

The most common types of mint plants like peppermint and spearmint are not considered toxic to dogs in small amounts, but there is one species of mint that should always be kept away from your pup. Both Pennyroyal mint leaves and Pennyroyal oil are highly toxic to dogs if they are consumed, and can even lead to liver failure if they eat a large amount. Even with ingesting a few small bites, these dogs can suffer from severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Another type of mint that can be dangerous to dogs is any form of mint essential oil. Essential oils are incredibly concentrated, so even a small amount of essential oil exposure can cause significant complications for dogs. For example, many people enjoy diffusing peppermint essential oils in their homes. While it is refreshing to us, it can lead to respiratory irritation and distress in some dogs. It can also cause severe skin irritation if it is applied to the dog’s fur, so you can imagine how dangerous it could be when it is consumed.

Does Mint Have Any Health Benefits For Dogs?

Mint has been linked to a few surprising health benefits in people, so can it be beneficial for dogs as well? The answer to this question is both yes and no. Mint leaves do contain antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory factors, but the amount of mint needed to benefit from these nutrients is not safe for dogs to eat. Though a couple of mint leaves are not bad for your dog, you shouldn’t expect any major health benefits either.

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Can I Give My Dog Mint To Freshen Their Breath?

You definitely can give your dog a couple of mint leaves to freshen their breath at that moment, but it won’t keep their bad breath at bay for longer. Some more effective options to banish your dog’s bad breath include daily toothbrushing, dental chews, and dental enzymes that you add to your dog’s water bowl. Mint leaves may take the edge off for a few moments, but you want something effective when it comes to your dog’s dental health.

Can I Give My Dog Mint Candy Or Sweets?

Not only are mint leaves refreshing, but they pair nicely with an array of sweet desserts. This is why you can find so many mint candies or sweets at any local grocery store, as well as in many people’s pantries. These sweet snacks may be delicious, but they are an item that should never be enjoyed by your dog. The high sugar contents of these snacks can cause an upset stomach for your dog, as well as the risk of weight gain if this becomes a regular treat.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that some mint candies contain an artificial sweetener known as xylitol, and this is considered highly toxic to dogs when ingested. Xylitol causes a dangerous drop in the dog’s blood sugar, which can lead to a fatal case of hypoglycemia. Not only can these dogs collapse due to low blood sugar, but they can sustain irreversible liver damage as well.

If you are looking for a naturally sweet treat that has plenty of nutritional benefits to offer, you can always give your pups some blueberries. A handful of these delicious berries will be sure to have your dog salivating!

Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Mint?

Mint is not toxic to dogs in small amounts, but it can certainly make them sick if they eat too much of it. Eating more than a few mint leaves at a time can cause GI irritation for the dog, often leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. We never want our pups to experience this discomfort, so it’s best to limit their mint intake to the best of your ability.

Also remember that both mint essential oils and Pennyroyal mint are considered toxic to dogs in any amount, so you will always want to keep these items away from your dog.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Too Much Mint?

No matter how careful we are, accidents will happen when you have a canine friend in your home. Some dogs have been known to snack on an entire mint plant when their pet parents weren’t looking, causing a sudden panic and questions of what to do next.

If you think your dog ate too much mint, we always suggest giving your vet a call. They may simply instruct you to monitor your dog in the following 12-24 hours, or they may suggest bringing them in to induce vomiting if they are especially concerned. The risks will vary based on how much mint they ate and how big your dog is, so it’s best to just give your vet a call.

Final Thoughts

If you ever have the urge to offer your dog a leaf or two of fresh mint, it is typically just fine. Just be sure to review the safety tips we discussed above, and to reach out to your vet if you ever have any mint-related concerns.

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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