Can Dogs Eat Mint?

Can dogs eat mint? Photo of mint plant for article

It’s more than likely that your dog will have a chance to chow down on mint at some point, thanks to this herb’s popularity in yards and gardens. But does eating it have any negative effects? And is there any way to convince your dog to stop eating mint? We’ll tackle these questions and offer a few simple solutions!

Mint Poisoning in Dogs

Of the many mint varieties, only one–English Pennyroyal, which grows throughout America except in its coldest reaches–is actually poisonous to dogs in its plant form. This mint contains high levels of a chemical called pulegone, which causes injury to the liver that can eventually become fatal.

Symptoms of English pennyroyal poisoning in dogs include:

  • Listlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody nose
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure
  • Death

Scary stuff! Vomiting and diarrhea are typically the first symptoms to present themselves, so if you notice your dog behaving sick soon after ingesting mint, you may want to consult a vet sooner rather than later. Still, most mint species, including the popularly grown peppermint and spearmint, will not harm a dog unless many pounds are ingested.

But while most fresh mint leaves pose little to no risk to dogs, mint essential oil does.

Mint oil is very potent, and also very popular in a number of homestyle, do-it-yourself pet-care recipes because of its refreshing scent and bug repellent properties. But if a dog ingests undiluted mint oil, it can lead to dermatitis or irritated skin plus the same symptoms as pennyroyal poisoning, including death from liver failure.

Essential oils have many benefits, but they are not necessarily harmless, either! So make sure any oils that you may have are safely contained in a dog-proof receptacle, and be sure to properly dilute any mint oil that you use topically on your dog.

What About Dog Treats With Mint Flavoring?

There are plenty of dog treats on the market that incorporate mint as an ingredient for its break-freshening properties. And it’s true that sometimes dogs really need a breath mint! But considering what we’ve just learned about the toxicity of pulmone and mint essential oil, are these treats safe?

These treats contain mint in fairly small amounts, which are then further cut by their other ingredients. If your pup has a sensitive stomach, these treats may not be for her, but you don’t need to worry about them causing liver failure.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Mint

It is unlikely that your dog will consume enough mint to reach toxic levels. If, however, eating mint causes him to throw up, or results in an utterly destroyed herb garden, here are a few things to try:

Fence it Off

Erecting a physical barrier between your dog and the minty object of his desire is the most surefire way of preventing consumption. An inexpensive roll of wire mesh makes an excellent dog-proof fence without preventing you from seeing your garden. 

Pot it Up

If putting up a fence or barrier is a bit too much for you, you can easily transfer your mint plants to a pot, which can then be moved to a safer area. If your dog has the run of the backyard, you can bring your mint into the front; or you can simply place the pot on an elevated surface that he can’t reach. Mint is an unfussy plant that grows vigorously in almost any condition, so the transplant shouldn’t cause much distress at all. 

Make it Spicy

Repellent sprays that use hot pepper as a deterrent are nontoxic and easily accessible. While typically formulated for and used against pests like deer, rabbits, and squirrels, these repellents may work on your pup, too, by making the mint taste spicy instead of minty.

Hot pepper waxes need to be reapplied after rain, and if you want to eat the mint yourself, you’ll need to rinse it thoroughly before doing so, lest you get a taste of the spiciness.


While mint is largely harmless and some dogs even seem to enjoy eating it, it’s not always best to let them. Use training to convince your dog to leave the mint alone, or use fencing or removal to separate your dog from the mint entirely.