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.

Related Videos

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!

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

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

Should you get a health and dog DNA kit? Here’s what you need to know about this new trend
Get some insight into your pet with a dog DNA kit
Corgi walks next to the water outside

Dog breed reveal parties might be the new trend, but is a dog DNA kit worth it? After all, how much information do you really get from one of these? And which tests work the best for the price? It's good to ask a few of these questions and do some research before buying one — they aren't cheap and you want to make sure you get the correct breed and health data so you can make informed decisions about your pet. This is what you should know before buying one for your pup.

What do DNA and dog health testing kits tell you (and what don't they)?
Dog DNA kits work similarly to human ones. The companies have the genetic makeup of many different breeds in their database that they then can match to your beastie. That means a number of official pups with papers got to give their DNA to help you connect your animal to them.

Read more
How long can you walk your dog in cold weather? Experts tell us
How long should you walk your dog in winter? Canine experts weigh in
A pug wearing a sweater walks through the snow

Walking your dog might be a breeze on a balmy summer morning, but a wintertime stroll could be a very different story. From slippery ice to disastrous wind chills, you really never know what you might run into. Luckily, though, with just a little knowledge and preparedness, you'll be more than ready to walk your dog in cold weather. As for preparing yourself for the cold -- you're on your own with that one!

To help you keep your pup as warm as possible while doing their daily duties, we've asked a few canine care experts about the dangers of walking your dog in the winter. By the time you're done reading, you'll be ready to prepare for your next cold-weather stroll.

Read more
4 ways to uplift your dog’s mental health and why it’s so important
How to keep your dog's mental health at its best
A happy Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever smiles at the camera

You may not see it overnight, but the pet industry is changing. Owners and professionals alike are watching pets become part of the family instead of simple companions. This means the way people care for their pets is changing, too, and they all seem like changes for the better.
Pet mental health is a new topic that's taking the spotlight thanks to these changes, which is why we asked Renee Rhoades, the head behavior consultant at R+Dogs, about the importance of dogs' mental health. The things owners can do to keep their pups feeling fulfilled are surprisingly simple, so read on to learn about the easy changes you can make for your own dog. You might also be surprised to see how similar human and canine mental wellness is!

Why your dog's mental health is so important
If you've ever faced depression, anxiety, or another mental health concern, you'll understand just how important it is to safeguard your emotional well-being. Even short experiences with mental illness can change a person's perspective permanently, and the same can be said for our canine friends. If you need to see it to believe it, just look at the depressed dogs in shelters!

Read more