3 Reasons Dogs Should Never Eat Peppermint

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: October 7, 2022
© Prystai/Shutterstock.com
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Technically, peppermint itself is okay for dogs. Before being processed, this simple plant isn’t toxic and often not harmful to dogs. However, after it is processed, the concentrated nature of this product is troublesome. Plus, it is often mixed with other toxic things that can harm canines.

For this reason, we don’t recommend that dog owners provide their canines with peppermint. While it may be okay in some cases, the risks are too great.

Here are some of the reasons we recommend skipping peppermint:

1. Stomach Upset

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Peppermint can cause stomach upset in dogs.

©Prystai/Shutterstock.com

Because of how concentrated peppermint is, it can cause many unwanted symptoms if consumed by your pooch. For instance, peppermint often causes stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Luckily, these aren’t usually serious and go away quickly on their own.

However, these symptoms aren’t fun for our furry friends or us!

Plus, in at-risk dogs, diarrhea and vomiting can be quite troublesome. Both of these symptoms cause dehydration, as fluids are lost. This can be serious in dogs that are prone to or particularly affected by dehydration. Dogs rarely need medical care after ingesting peppermint, but it is possible.

2. Xylitol

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Xylitol is toxic to dogs.

©Olya Maximenko/Shutterstock.com

Peppermint candies and other sweet treats often contain xylitol, a sweetener. While this sweetener is fine for human consumption, it is extremely toxic to canines. Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure. Death is not unheard of, especially if medical attention isn’t sought.

This candy is toxic in dogs because it stimulates their pancreas to release insulin. Dogs absorb xylitol very quickly, which leads to a jump in insulin production. This rise in insulin production often leads to very low blood sugar, usually 10-60 minutes after consumption.

Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening. However, this toxin can also cause liver failure, though how is unknown. With that said, low doses of xylitol usually cause hypoglycemia, while higher doses cause liver failure.

Signs of low blood sugar in dogs include weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, tremors, seizures, and coma. As you can see, this requires quick treatment, or it can easily be potentially deadly. Quick action must be taken to raise your dog’s blood sugar and prevent serious problems.

Luckily, this condition is treatable if you act fast. Sometimes, inducing vomiting can be helpful, depending on your dog’s blood glucose. If there are symptoms, your vet can work to reduce them and prevent further complications. Usually, hospitalization is required to keep your dog’s blood sugar stable and prevent complications.

3. Plant Confusion

mint plant
To be safe, it is better to skip mint altogether for your dogs.

©Cat Act Art/Shutterstock.com

While peppermint is not toxic to dogs, some members of the mint family are. For instance, Penny Royal is a common mint plant that is quite toxic to dogs. Often, dogs develop symptoms after eating this plant in their owner’s garden, though it is also used in some food preparation.

Because all these plants belong to the mint family, they can be mixed up easily. They all share pretty similar traits. Therefore, when you’re thinking you’re giving your dog peppermint, you could be giving them a toxic mint variety.

Therefore, it is often best to skip the mint plants altogether – just in case.

How Much Peppermint is Toxic to Dogs?

Technically, peppermint isn’t toxic to dogs. Therefore, if you have plain peppermint, your dog could technically eat however much it wants without developing serious symptoms.

However, peppermint can upset your dog’s stomach. This isn’t because it is toxic. Instead, your dog’s stomach simply isn’t used to it, which can cause all sorts of stomach upset. Like any new food, peppermint can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

With that said, many additives used alongside peppermint are toxic to dogs. For instance, xylitol is toxic to canines and often utilized in peppermint candies. Dogs can easily fall ill from xylitol, so it is best to avoid it.

Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Dogs?

While the plant peppermint isn’t toxic to dogs, the oil can be. Peppermint oil is extremely concentrated. In small amounts, it can lead to potentially dangerous side effects. It does depend somewhat on your dog’s sensitivity, though.

Essential oils as a whole tend to be dangerous for our pets. For instance, using the oil on your dog’s skin can irritate it. Even diffusing the oil into the air can irritate the skin, as your dog will come into contact with tiny droplets in the air.

If eaten, peppermint essential oil can cause liver damage. Your dog’s liver is what filters out potentially dangerous chemicals, including essential oils. Therefore, if you give your dog too much essential oils, it can damage the liver simply because it increases the amount of work it must do.

In at-risk dogs, this may even lead to liver failure. Over a long period of time, peppermint oil can damage a healthy dog’s liver enough to cause liver failure, as well.

Of course, dogs are also likely to experience digestion upset after consuming peppermint essential oil. Vomiting and diarrhea may occur, for instance. These symptoms aren’t usually serious. However, they can be in some situations. Plus, none of these symptoms are very enjoyable for our dogs.

Why Do Dogs Eat Peppermint?

Some dogs simply like to munch on plants. Peppermint does have an interesting smell that can be attractive to many dogs. Therefore, some dogs may munch on it for this reason. Of course, if your dog is munching on your peppermint plant, there probably isn’t anything to be worried about.

However, too much peppermint can cause digestion issues. With that said, it may also help with digestive issues. Peppermint is sometimes utilized to relieve motion sickness, for instance. Therefore, it depends on your dog and its sensitivity.

Can Dogs Be Around Peppermint Essential Oil?

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Peppermint oil is not safe for dogs.

©Madeleine Steinbach/Shutterstock.com

It is recommended not to keep dogs around peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is not safe for dogs are nearly any other pet. Dogs around diffused peppermint oil will breathe it in and get it on their skin. In minor cases, your dog may experience respiratory discomfort, irritation, and rashes. Most dogs will try to get away, at the very least.

However, more serious symptoms can occur, too. For instance, lethargy, vomiting, and even liver failure may occur over the long term (or quickly in at-risk pets).

While peppermint oil may smell nice, you should not use it around your dog or other pets.

Can Peppermint Candy Hurt My Dog?

Peppermint candy can potentially hurt your dog. Usually, peppermint candy is made with peppermint oil. This concentrated oil can be troublesome in some situations. This oil can cause lethargy, discomfort, rashes, and even liver failure in high amounts and when diffused. Luckily, the amount found in most candies isn’t usually troublesome.

However, most peppermint candies also contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener. This substance is quite toxic to dogs. It can cause dangerously low blood sugar in even minuscule amounts. It is very easy for this sweetener to cause seizures, coma, and death.

Therefore, if your dog eats peppermint candy, your first step should be to look at the ingredient list. Next, call pet poison control or your veterinarian. One piece of xylitol-free peppermint candy won’t do much. However, xylitol consumption almost always calls for veterinary attention.

Can Peppermint Cause Seizures in Dogs?

No. Peppermint itself is not going to cause seizures in dogs. Peppermint can damage the liver and cause liver failure in very high or concentrated amounts. Dogs may seize when they are experiencing liver failure due to a build-up of chemicals. However, this isn’t because of the peppermint itself.

Usually, liver failure in a healthy dog requires long-term exposure to peppermint. However, the exception to this rule is peppermint essential oil, as it is extremely concentrated.

With that said, xylitol is often utilized in peppermint candies and gum. This sweetener is extremely toxic to dogs and can cause seizures. Therefore, many people mistakenly believe that peppermint caused the seizure when it was this common artificial sweetener.

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