Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Is peppermint toxic to dogs? What you should know about mint poisoning

Brace yourself, minter is upon us. Every year as the holidays come into view, peppermint everything starts to take over. Coffee flavors, candle scents, and all kinds of festive Christmas candies take advantage of this seasonal herb, but not all delicious snacks are also pet-safe foods. Is peppermint toxic to dogs?

Mint comes in many forms: scents, flavors, and even oils. Not all of these will have the same effect on your pup, though educating yourself about everything minty, including mint poisoning in dogs, will allow you to make the most informed choices for your fur baby. After all, your sweet pup deserves nothing but the best this holiday season — there’s no time to be sick! Luckily, you should be able to avoid any mishaps by using peppermint carefully.

Is peppermint toxic to dogs?

While it’s tempting to look for one simple answer, it’s important to remember that there are literally hundreds of mint species in existence. According to the ASPCA, most wild mints that you may encounter with your dog will only pose mild risks, like vomiting and diarrhea.

It’s the oil of the plant, whether peppermint, spearmint, or perilla mint, that causes intestinal upset. You may also notice irritation of your pup’s nose, skin, or mouth regardless of whether they ingest mint leaves by mouth or inhale it in essential oil form.

You may have discovered that many dog treats, especially breath-freshening treats, include mint as the main ingredient. These snacks won’t include enough of the herb to irritate a dog’s system. In fact, a few peppermint leaves may even aid canine digestion, notes Susan Paretts in SFGATE.

When it comes to peppermint-flavored foods and drinks, it’s best to keep your furry friend far away. That amount of mint is likely not enough to cause a serious problem for your pup but treats like candies and peppermint hot cocoas contain other ingredients that can be dangerous for dogs, too. Foods like chocolate, sugar, butter, and artificial sweeteners should not be fed to your pet, no matter how delicious they may be. Besides, it’s most likely peppermint flavor in your candy — not real peppermint!

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mint poisoning in dogs

Though you may think of mint poisoning as a complication of ingesting the herb or flavor, it’s more common when a dog is exposed to a mint essential oil. There are many concerning reports of pets getting sick from essential oil exposure, though the guilty parties include more than peppermint. The ASPCA lists citrus, pennyroyal, ylang-ylang, peppermint, tea tree, wintergreen, cinnamon, and sweet birch oils as some of the most poisonous for dogs.

Needless to say, these oils should not be diffused, sprayed, or applied near your four-legged friend. If they have been exposed, you may notice some of these symptoms, provided by VCA Hospitals:

  • Lethargy or weakness.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Vomiting (that may smell like the oil).
  • Drooling.
  • Burns or irritation on the skin, mouth, or paws.
  • Muscle tremors.

When it comes to ingesting mint leaves, only one species is known to cause liver damage: English pennyroyal. The other mint species are likely to just cause gastrointestinal distress (which can still be troubling) and other milder symptoms.

A Bullmastiff sits in a field of flowers in the park
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Treating mint poisoning in dogs

PetMD notes that veterinarians may induce vomiting, clean out the stomach, or administer activated charcoal to remove ingested toxins. Mild pet shampoo and heavy rinsing will be important if the dog was exposed through touch as well.

Techniques like inducing vomiting should only be done under veterinary supervision, as it can cause complications in some situations. If you suspect that your furry friend may have been exposed to too much peppermint, calling their vet should be your very first move. They can guide you through the most appropriate next steps to keep your dog as safe as possible.

In most situations, mint poisoning is not fatal. Some long-term veterinary care may be required in severe cases, including intravenous hydration and antibiotics, but you may even be able to ride out the symptoms from home. Just ask your vet!

Final thoughts

Now that you know that dogs and mint don’t mix, you can keep your best buddy far away. There are plenty of other ways to indulge in Christmas bliss together, anyways. If you feel particularly compelled to share the refreshing holiday cheer, though, try looking for mint-flavored dog treats or other pet-safe foods to share. Not even the holidays are worth getting sick over!

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
5 interesting things you might not know about the German shorthaired pointer dog breed
These are interesting facts to know about your pointer
a dark german shorthaired pointer adult in the park in the fall

With floppy ears, deep eyes, and a proud stance, the German shorthaired pointer is a stunning (and adorable) dog breed. These pups have won over human companions for their friendly nature and high intelligence. Bred to hunt in Germany (hence the name) in the 1800s, German shorthaired pointer dogs are now most commonly loving family pets. Knowing key facts about a breed before you welcome a dog into your home can help ensure you can be that pet's forever family. Of course, the learning never stops. Understanding more about a breed's personality can help you troubleshoot issues and ensure the pet is getting all their needs met, keeping them healthy and happy and your sofa intact. If you're considering a German shorthaired pointer dog or already call one your best friend, these facts will help.

German shorthaired pointers are loving
Think "larger dog" means scary? Think again. German shorthaired pointers are a medium-sized breed with loads of love to give. These dogs are considered highly affectionate with family members and generally good with small children. Human and dog parents will always want to monitor interactions between children and dogs, as even the most loving animal can grow tired of a toddler poking their eyes and pulling their floppy ears.

Read more
What to expect when your dog’s expecting: A dog pregnancy guide
Weekly guide to your dog's pregnancy stages
a pregnant brown American pit bull mix with a bow around her stomach poses standing on a wooden crate with flowers

Jodi Jacobson/Getty Images Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images
Whether or not you’re planning on breeding your dog, there’s a lot of value in learning about dog pregnancy stages and how to care for a dog who’s expecting. Especially if you're the kind of person who would rescue a dog in need, you never know when you (or someone around you) might benefit from this knowledge. As adorable and exciting as puppies are, do you know how to handle what comes first?
If you look at dog pregnancy week by week, it’s much simpler to understand. You’ll be able to break down the tasks and to-do’s so you’ll always be able to give your expectant pup the love and care she deserves. Nothing is better than a healthy and happy mama and babies! Here’s what you need to know:

How long is a dog pregnant?
Although there is an answer, the reality of every pregnancy will vary. The American Kennel Club reports that the average gestation period for a dog is 63 days from conception to birth. This can vary because it can be nearly impossible to tell exactly when conception occurs in canines. Once mating occurs, sperm can stay alive inside the female for up to a few days. Puppies are fully developed around day 58, so labor can begin as early as then.

Read more
Why do dogs cough? What you need to know
The reasons behind your coughing pooch
A small brown dog lying on the back of a sofa in mid-yawn

As a dog owner, it can be easy to worry whenever your furry friend starts exhibiting symptoms of ill health. From reverse sneezing to a loss of appetite, just about any new change could make a pet parent keep an eye out. We all want the best for our furry friends, of course, but we don't always know what it means when a new symptom comes up.
For example, you may be asking yourself, 'Why is my dog coughing?' It's no secret that there are lots of causes behind canine coughing (not to be confused with reverse sneezing), but it's not always clear what to look for. Fortunately, we're here to explain several of the most common causes of dog coughing and what each case may look like. Hopefully, you'll have more answers soon!

Why is my dog coughing like something is stuck in his throat?
If your dog's persistent cough sounds dry and hacking, or even like a spasm or wheeze, your pooch might be suffering from tracheal collapse. This happens when a dog's trachea, or windpipe, becomes "soft and floppy." It's more common among flat-faced dog breeds like boxers, Shih Tzus, and pugs, but it can also occur in dogs who are overweight or who suffer from allergies. It worsens in hot temperatures or during exercise,

Read more