As the holidays approach, peppermint replaces pumpkin in our favorite beverages and on our dessert shelves. It can be fun to treat our pups by letting them have at least a little of what we’re having. But as we’ve seen with certain types of candy and some forms of cranberries, what’s delicious to us can actually be unsafe for dogs.
To help you figure out whether or not peppermint should be on your dog’s seasonal menu, we spoke with clinical pet nutritionist Johanna Devereaux, who is also the founder of Fetch RI, a holistic pet boutique and supply retail store.
Can dogs eat peppermint?
The short answer is yes, you can give your dog’s peppermint.
“Technically, when we are talking about the herb peppermint, you can give in fresh or dry form,” Johanna says.
But there are several forms to steer clear of, including essential oils and anything with chocolate in it. Sugar-free candies, which have xylitol, a sugar substitute in more than 700 products that is toxic for dogs, are also no-nos.
“Xylitol acts quick,” Johanna says. “Xylitol can cause liver failure, seizures and low blood sugar. It can be fatal.”
If you think your dog has ingested xylitol, call poison control immediately and then head to your vet or pet emergency room for a check-up. Warning signs include loss of coordination and shaking, but any behavior that seems out of the ordinary could be a red flag, Johanna says.
You should also advise giving dogs anything with regular sugar (so avoid candy canes and peppermint cookies).
“It’s not something you have to worry about from a toxicity standpoint, but there’s no need for a dog to ingest sugar ever,” Johanna says.
Why would you give your dog peppermint?
Though certain forms of peppermint should be avoided, fresh or dried varieties can provide some benefits when used in moderation (your vet can advise on what that means for your specific dog).
“It can help with an upset stomach,” Johanna says. “It can also stimulate appetite and can support the GI tract. If you have a dog with motion sickness, you can try peppermint as an herb that would help soothe the stomach.”
When should I stop giving my dog peppermint?
You should always speak with your vet before trying any treatment. Dogs receiving homeopathic treatments are not good candidates for peppermint.
“Peppermint is an antidote,” Johanna says. “You’ll want to stay away from peppermint because it will stop the remedy from working.”
Peppermint isn’t toxic to dogs, so you likely won’t notice red flags if you are using it in moderation. That said, if you feel it isn’t working, it’s important not to up your dog’s dose without consulting the vet because it could not only cancel out the benefits of peppermint but make your pup’s ailments worse.
“If you’re seeing it’s not working with GI distress, don’t give more,” Johanna says. “In excess, it can do the opposite and cause GI distress.”
Remember: Every dog has different needs and responds differently to treatments.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” Johanna says. “It’s what the body needs.”
Featured Image: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images
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