Mint is not a name for a specific plant species but a genus Mentha name that has 13 different species as well as some hybrids all under the family Lamiaceae.
Chocolate (peppermint), ginger, and the apple mint are the popular hybrids while the water, corn, banana, pineapple, forest, horse, slender, Australian, American mints, spearmint, and pennyroyal are some of the popular species.
Finally, these plants should not be confused with breath mints for dogs as the latter are mostly commercial as well as some homemade products designed to enhance your dog’s breath.
These herbs have various uses which may include but not limited to the following:
1. Culinary use
“The leaves have a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste,” notes Wikipedia. Therefore, you can use them jellies, source, candies, syrups, beverages, alcoholic drinks, and so on.
Also, the menthol found in these herbs’ essential oil is a flavoring in breath fresheners, chewing gums, toothpaste, candies, desserts, and chocolates
The mint essential oil can kill wasps, ants, hornets, and cockroaches as an environmentally friendly insecticide.
3. Traditional medicine
This herb may help in irritable bowel syndrome, chest pains, and stomachaches. However, there is no conclusive research on these uses.
You can use it in aromatherapy as well as room deodorizers. Aromatherapy uses its essential oil and not the leaves.
Can dogs have mint
According to ASPCA, dogs should not eat dried or fresh mint leaves, drink mint water, extract, or oil as these plants are not safe, i.e., they are toxic to dogs and applies to all the Mentha species.
Similarly, a mint source is not safe for dogs. Why? It is made using mint leaves, white wine vinegar, salt, and caster sugar. The leaves and white wine vinegar make it unsafe.
Why is it toxic? It has essential oils that will cause diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and other symptoms when ingested in large amounts. Furthermore, its essential oil may also cause skin irritation.
In case of any symptoms of toxicity, let your vet conduct a diagnosis and recommend the best treatments.
Some consider mint for dogs as safe
While ASPCA notes that it is toxic, SFGate and Rover.com state that some Mentha spp. are safe and are found in some dog foods and treats (such as dog biscuits and cookies) to help freshen breath as well as aid in digestion.
One delicious example that your canine friend will like is Benefit All Natural Dog Biscuits which have pumpkin, rosemary, peppermint, vitamin A, B12, and C.
Rover.com singles out the English Pennyroyal as the toxic species. The Perilla mint is also considered toxic to these pets.
There is also a claim that only the English pennyroyal has pulegone that is toxic to dogs. However, this is not the case. Our research indicates that spearmint, peppermint, and other species of Mentha have it.
According to Love Joys Pet Foods, symptoms of poisoning include “listlessness, a bloody nose, coughing up blood, diarrhea, slipping into a coma, breathing difficulties, vomiting, seizures, and even death. The “FDA has flagged pulegone as carcinogenic to human beings.”
Some of the benefits of mint for dogs mention include the following:
- Nutritive – has vitamins A and C, minerals including folate, iron, manganese, calcium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants.
- It has antimicrobial properties, i.e., it is an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.
- Promotes fresh breath by killing oral bacteria that cause a dog’s smelly breath.
- Has rosmarinic acid that may help in relieving some symptoms of allergies, especially seasons ones.
- Has menthol vital for nasal decongestion – breaks thick phlegm and mucus
- Aids in digestion, reduces stomach upsets, gurgling stomach noises or gas, and motion illness, and so on.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Repels fleas
Owing to these benefits, you will get many homemade mint dog treats recipes online. Consult your vet before using any of them.
While some dogs may love these herbs, some may not like their aroma and taste. Even if they love it, the recommended dosage is about one or two leaves.
Remember, excessive amounts of fibrous plant-based food may be hard for dogs to digest, and they may bring about stomach upsets, vomiting, and diarrhea.
There is a lot of evidence on these herbs’ benefits. A small amount ‘may’ be safe and beneficial to your canine. Dog mints have these herbs’ extract but not its essential oil.
However, there might be a risk of your dog ingesting a lot, especially if you have it in your garden. Avoid it as ASPC advises.
Finally, just as in the case of humans, some pooches may be allergic to this herb. Its ingestion will cause various allergic symptoms.
Can dogs eat Altoids, polo, junior and thin mints
Altoids have peppermint oil, gum Arabic, gelatin, and sugar. Some are sugar-free, i.e., sweetened by xylitol, sorbitol, and sucralose. Xylitol is poisonous to dogs. Also, peppermint oil and sorbitol are not safe.
Thin mints have corn syrup, soy lecithin, salt, baking soda, peppermint oil, artificial flavorings, enriched flour, vegetable oil, cocoa, chocolate coating, among others.
On the other hand, the Junior mints are candies that have a dark semi-sweet chocolate coating and have sugar, corn syrup, peppermint oil, invertase, among other ingredients.
Both peppermint oil and chocolate are toxic to dogs. Additionally, being sugary, these candies may increase chances in dog obesity, diabetes, among other problems to your canine friend. Avoid any candy canes or mints.
Similarly, dogs should not eat human breath mints such as Lifesaver, Certs, Vigroids, Eclipse, Excel, Polo, Clorets, Penguin, Ice Breakers, or chocolate mints or any other candies. They contain unhealthy or unsafe ingredients.
Excessive amounts of fresh mint leaves and extract are toxic to pups. Also, their essential oils are toxic to dogs. However, a small amount may be beneficial but avoid their candies and sources.
To be on the safe side, have a discussion with your vet before you give them to your dog or cats.