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Can Dogs Eat Peppermint? Or Is It Bad For Them? (What About Candy Canes?)

During the winter and holiday season, there are many different sweet treats and one main ingredient is peppermint.

If you’ve got some candy canes or mints in the house, then you might be tempted to share them with your pup.

What happens if your dog eats peppermint?

Is it okay for dogs to eat peppermint or candy canes? Or is it bad for them?

Good news, yes, it’s safe for your dog to eat peppermint – in most cases.

Keep reading to learn the specifics of letting your dog eat peppermint.

Should Your Dog Eat Peppermint?

dog licking candy cane

While you may crave peppermint during a certain time of year, it’s important to note that dogs don’t crave a wide variety of taste for their food and this is why they are so happy eating the same thing every day.

Technically, peppermint is not toxic to your dog but it may lead to an upset stomach and can have consequences, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

So, while your dog can eat peppermint, it’s probably not a good idea to give it to the doggo on the regular.

Concerns of Feeding Peppermint Treats to Your Dog

While peppermint may not be the sole problem, peppermint may often be mixed with other things, especially if it’s a human treat that is made with peppermint.

jack russell with candy cane

Xylitol: Peppermint is often mixed with a sweetener called Xylitol, and this can be toxic to your pet.

This can actually lead to death if you don’t get your dog treated after he or she consumes Xylitol.

Other Mint Plants: It’s important to be cautious with peppermint and make sure it’s not being mixed with another mint plant, called Penny Royal.

Penny Royal is toxic to your dog and shouldn’t be used.

It’s advised to keep this out of your garden.

Since this mint can also be toxic to humans, it’s likely not in the food but it doesn’t hurt to be sure.

It’s mostly used as an ingredient in herbal flea repellant.

Other mints, including spearmint and wild mint, can be non-toxic to your dog but just like peppermint it’s best if your pet doesn’t consume a bunch of it.

High Sugar Content: Peppermint treats, especially those made for humans, can have high sugar content.

Giving your dog a food with high sugar content can lead to diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, or pancreatitis.

It’s especially harmful for dogs with weight problems or diabetes.

Even if your dog doesn’t have any health conditions, treats with high sugar content can lead to insulin resistance and obesity and this will not be good for your dog in the long run.

dogs with candy canes

Plastic Wrappers: Many festive peppermint treats are wrapped in plastic and this can be dangerous to your dog.

If your dog consumes a plastic wrapper, it can get stuck in the digestive tract and this will be life threatening.

Keep candies, especially those wrapped in plastic, away from your dog.

Are There Health Benefits From Feeding Your Dog Peppermint?

There are plenty of health benefits for humans when they consume peppermint.

However, there are no health benefits when dogs consume peppermint.

Some people believe that peppermint may help a dog’s digestive system just like a human, but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove this.

What Should I Do if My Dog Eats Peppermint?

cute dog with candy cane

If your dog has eaten peppermint then look out for signs that warrant a trip to the vet.

The amount ingested that could cause a reaction would be different for every dog.

However, if there are any unusual signs for your dog then contact your vet.

It’s best to always keep your dog on a steady diet, unless your veterinarian tells you otherwise.

Dogs have very sensitive stomachs.

If you want to give your pet a special treat, it’s best to have one that is already part of their regular diet.

There are peppermint dog treats that are made specifically for dogs.

There are even healthy treats, such as cooked green beans or carrots, that you can give your dog instead.

No matter what you end up getting your pet as a treat, it’s important to do so in moderation and pay attention to any reactions.

Possible Bad Reaction Symptoms To Peppermint

fresh peppermint
fresh peppermint

If your dog has consumed peppermint and has different symptoms, including

  • vomiting
  • breathing difficulty
  • diarrhea
  • coughing up blood
  • lethargy

it’s important to notify your vet since these may be symptoms that your pet has eaten more than just peppermint.

Will Your Dog Enjoy Peppermint Treats?

Since you can make homemade peppermint treats or buy them for your dog you may be curious if it’s even worth it or something your pet will enjoy.

Even though dogs don’t crave a variety of different tastes, they do have different taste preferences just like humans.

Some dogs may enjoy peppermint, while others won’t.

dog getting a treat

For the most part, your pet is likely to enjoy a treat that is different from their everyday food.

Consider your dog’s senses, since dogs have much stronger senses than your own.

Your dog may be extra sensitive to a strong scent of peppermint.

While the scent is not going to be harmful, your dog may just not enjoy it.

Peppermint Oil Benefits for Your Dog’s Skin

There are benefits to using peppermint oil on your dog’s skin.

It can help with skin irritation and can be used as a flea and mosquito repellent.

You need to use a small amount and it’s best to dilute it with coconut oil to check to see if your dog has a reaction to it.

Many people like to diffuse peppermint oil in their home.

This will be fine as long as you leave the diffuser in a place where your dog can’t reach it and accidentally ingest it.

peppermint oil

If your dog is sneezing, they may be sensitive to the smell of peppermint and it’s best to stop diffusing the oil.

If your dog consumes peppermint oil, the common side effects will be mouth or throat irritation so be careful to watch your dog closely since the oil can be very strong.

Final Word

While your dog can eat peppermint extract and it can be used in treats specially made for dogs, you want to make sure that you are keeping any human peppermint treats away from your furry friend.

If your dog does consume a candy cane or other peppermint treat, look closely for signs of upset stomach and call your vet.

If the treat is mixed with other dangerous ingredients, get immediate medical help for your dog.

image: Deposit Photos

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National Canine Research Association of America