Most of us probably think of peppermint candy when we hear the word peppermint. However, peppermint actually refers to a mint plant that is cultivated in many parts of the world. Leaves from the peppermint plant are processed to produce essential oil which provides flavor for teas, candies, ice creams, toothpaste, and other foods. Can dogs eat peppermint? Learn more below.
Peppermint is a hybrid mint. It’s a cross between watermint and spearmint. It’s native to Europe and the Middle East but it’s now cultivated in many places in the world.
We had a hard time finding nutritional information for peppermint. Most recipes call for 1-2 tablespoons of peppermint leaves. This amount of peppermint has negligible amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It’s also low in vitamins and minerals. You would need to consume several cups of peppermint leaves to find large amounts of nutrients.
The table below is based on 100 grams of fresh peppermint leaves. That is equivalent to 3.33 CUPS of peppermint leaves. It is equivalent to 160 U.S. tablespoons. That is far more peppermint than anyone would ever use in a normal context.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Fresh, Nutritive Value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percent of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.94 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||8 g||20%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.338 mg||6.5%|
|Vitamin A||4248 IU||141%|
|Vitamin C||31.8 mg||53%|
Even though you are unlikely to consume this much peppermint, it does contain some essential oils and compounds which make it beneficial. Studies indicate that peppermint seems to help with digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. Preliminary studies suggest that peppermint oil may help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
A few small studies have suggested that peppermint oil could help people with tension headaches and migraines.
Peppermint has antibacterial properties that appear to kill germs that cause dental plaque. It also helps freshen breath. This is why it’s such a popular flavor in dental products.
Peppermint has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It’s been suggested that peppermint tea could help fight clogged sinuses. Peppermint also contains menthol. The menthol may help you feel like you are breathing easier.
Peppermint and/or peppermint tea may have other positive benefits which have not yet been studied in depth.
There are some possible side effects from taking peppermint oil. Heartburn, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting are possible side effects. Peppermint leaf is possibly safe when taken for up to 8 weeks. It’s not clear if peppermint leaf is safe to use for longer than 8 weeks. Taking peppermint oil could cause burning with diarrhea.
Peppermint oil has most often been used by adults in doses of 270-1350 mg by mouth daily for up to 4 weeks. Peppermint oil is also used in gels, creams, rinses, oils, and as part of aromatherapy. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.
Can Dogs Have Peppermint?
Peppermint is not toxic to dogs. A little fresh or dried peppermint should not harm your dog. In fact, some people use peppermint for an upset stomach or for motion sickness.
Dogs may or may not like the flavor. Not all dogs are fans of minty freshness.
There are some forms of peppermint that you will need to avoid giving your dog. Peppermint candy (contains a lot of sugar), sugar-free peppermints (contain xylitol which is deadly), peppermint with anything chocolate (toxic to dogs) are all forms of peppermint that you should not give your dog. So, candy canes and peppermint cookies are generally a no for dogs.
It’s also best to avoid giving your dog peppermint essential oil. Essential oil is very concentrated. It would be very easy to give your dog too much and produce some unintended side effects such as vomiting.
Keep in mind that too much of anything, even something intended to help with an upset stomach, can backfire. If your dog doesn’t respond well to peppermint for an upset stomach, don’t give it to him.
If you’re not sure about giving your dog a little peppermint, talk to your veterinarian.
How Much ?
Fresh peppermint leaves are fairly large for an herb. You can give your dog 1-2 leaves in a tea or chopped up and added to his food. Peppermint has a strong flavor so one leaf could be plenty. As mentioned earlier, not every dog likes this flavor.
If you are using peppermint for a specific ailment, such as an upset stomach or motion sickness, you can give it as needed.
If you want to give peppermint leaf to your dog to freshen his breath, for example, try to use it sparingly. WebMD.com says that it’s not clear if it’s safe to use for longer than 8 weeks in humans. Look for some good dental products to replace the peppermint leaf.
Peppermint is not toxic to dogs. We don’t recommend using peppermint essential oil because it is highly concentrated. However, fresh peppermint leaves or dried peppermint should be safe to give your dog in small amounts as long as they are not used with added sugar, xylitol, chocolate, or other ingredients that could be harmful to dogs. If you have questions about giving your dog peppermint, talk to your veterinarian.