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In moderate amounts, mint is a good source of antioxidants and vitamins. Fresh mint leaves are great when added to salads, sauces, and desserts.
So, they’re safe for us, but what about our four-legged friends? A common question asked by many canine owners is: can dogs eat mint leaves?
The quick answer is yes and no. Eager to find out more? Keep reading!
We use the term ‘mint’ to refer to hundreds of different plant species that belong to the same genus, Mentha. They’re fast-growing, perennial herbs known for their pleasant aroma and enjoyable flavor.
Two common varieties are spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha x Piperita). Wild mint is also pretty popular.
As we mentioned above, the answer to this question depends on the type of mint plant.
The three most common mint species are wild mint, spearmint, and peppermint. These are all safe for dogs. Many are even included in canine treats and breath fresheners.
Your puppy will enjoy munching on the leaves. Plus, his digestive system will benefit from the mint’s antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Remember to give your pup only a couple of leaves daily to avoid stomach problems. You can offer them on their own or cut them up and place them on the food.
Another non-toxic member of the mint family that doesn’t even belong to the Mentha genus is catmint (Nepeta cataria). This perennial plant produces clusters of blue flowers with dark, spiky leaves. Similar to catnip in many ways, catmint is non-toxic and completely safe for dogs.
Then, there are the toxic varieties that your dog should never eat. The only Mentha variety experts say you should stay away from is the English pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium).
This delicate but deadly plant contains a lethal chemical called pulegone. Pulegone can cause organ failure, liver damage, cardiac arrest in dogs and humans. In the end, it’s classified as carcinogenic.
The pennyroyal grows year-round in many parts of the country, except for cold regions. If your dog consumes even one leaf, it can cause severe vomiting and lethargy.
If you suspect your pup has ingested pennyroyal mint, contact your vet immediately. They can provide the necessary care and possibly induce vomiting.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s another lethal type of mint, which isn’t part of the Mentha genus: perilla mint (Perilla frutescens). It’s primarily used in Asian cooking for its distinctive minty flavor.
Unfortunately, it’s considered to be highly toxic to dogs. So, avoid growing it in your garden. If you prefer, you can plant them in pots and place them on a high shelf or window sill, where your pooch can’t reach them.
So, can dogs eat mint leaves? Yes, as long as they’re from the harmless variety. Most mint plants offer significant health benefits for your pooch. They can eliminate bad breath and aid in digestion.
Remember to avoid the two main types that can prove harmful for your dog: pennyroyal and perilla mint. They can lead to severe cases of vomiting, diarrhea, and even food poisoning.