You’ve probably heard the lyrics “… parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme …. “ All of these herbs are as popular today as they were centuries ago. Thyme is one of the most popular of these herbs. It’s used in cooking, folk medicine, and even as a tea. If you are curious about whether dogs can eat thyme, we have the answer for you below.
Thyme is an herb in the mint family. It’s closely related to oregano. Like oregano, it is indigenous to the Mediterranean. It was used by the ancient Egyptians in their embalming rituals; and by the ancient Greeks as incense and in their baths. The Romans probably spread thyme throughout the rest of Europe. They used it to purify their living quarters and to flavor certain cheeses and liqueurs.
During the middle ages, thyme was placed under the pillow to ward off nightmares. As an incense, it was used at funerals and placed on coffins. The herb also has a history of being associated with courage.
Thyme is low in most nutrients but it does contain small amounts of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium.
Thyme is used in both fresh and dry forms. As a dried herb it holds its flavor better than most other herbs.
There are many varieties of thyme but common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is typically used in cooking. Essential oil from common thyme (oil of thyme) has a number of compounds with antimicrobial properties. The essential oil contains 20-54 percent thymol as well as p-cymene, myrcene, borneol, and linalool. Thymol is an antiseptic. It is an active ingredient in some commercially-made mouthwashes such as Listerine. Before modern antibiotics were in use, oil of thyme was applied to bandages to help with healing.
Thyme has been linked to a wide range of possible health benefits. As an antibacterial, it may help fight acne, for example. One kind of thyme extract may help reduce the heart rate (in rats). Thyme essential oil, in some forms, is sometimes used as a natural cough remedy.
Thyme may also be effective as a disinfectant at helping to control mold.
Thymol, which is found in thyme, is used in some pesticides.
Thyme may also help improve a person’s mood because it contains the compound carvacrol. According to one animal study, carvacrol elevated the concentrations of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that regulate mood.
Thyme may also be a natural preservative of foods against food borne bacteria. A study from 2011 found that thyme oil was effective against resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas bacteria. This doesn’t mean that taking thyme oil will prevent you from getting a case of food poisoning. It’s also likely that if you take thyme essential oil or thyme supplements on a regular basis that you could kill off the good bacteria in your gut as well as any harmful bacteria.
Thyme may also be effective against fungus such as yeast. One recent study found that very small doses of thyme essential oil acted as a fungicide against Candida albicans, a common cause of yeast infections, even when the fungus was resistant to the prescription drug fluconazole.
Thyme is generally considered safe. However, if you use too much, especially if you are taking it as an essential oil, it can result in a drop in blood pressure (hypotension). If you take medication for high blood pressure or anticoagulants (blood thinners), talk to your doctor before using thyme essential oil or supplements.
If you are allergic to plants in the mint family, such as oregano, use care with thyme. You may wish to talk to your doctor. If you are allergic or sensitive to thyme you may experience nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you are allergic or sensitive to thyme and it is applied to your skin, you may experience a skin rash.
Can Dogs Have Thyme?
Yes, in general, thyme is safe for most dogs. Dogs can enjoy small amounts of thyme in fresh or dried form. They can benefit from the same antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties that people can enjoy.
As mentioned earlier, thyme only has a few vitamins and minerals. However, it’s the compounds in the herb which can be most beneficial. Thymol is good as an antiseptic, especially in the dog’s mouth. It’s good for fighting gingivitis, for example. Thyme is also good for fighting bad breath and coughs.
Thyme has also been recommended for helping with good digestion. It’s one of the herbs often suggested for dogs with irritable bowel syndrome.
Several dog foods today include thyme as one of their ingredients.
Thyme is also used as part of some remedies to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
While thyme leaves and tea made from the leaves are often recommended for dogs, oil of thyme or thyme essential oil is not usually recommended. It is much more concentrated than using fresh thyme or dried/ground thyme.
If a dog should eat too much thyme or consume some thyme essential oil, it can have an effect on the dog’s blood pressure. If this occurs, we suggest that you contact your veterinarian to be safe.
If is possible that a small number of dogs could be allergic to thyme, especially if a dog is also allergic to other herbs in the mint family such as basil, rosemary, oregano, or sage. Symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. If your dog shows these symptoms, contact your veterinarian. A skin rash is possible if your dog is allergic and has thyme or a thyme product on his skin.
How Much Thyme Can You Give Your Dog?
If you are using fresh thyme leaves, you can give a small dog about ½ teaspoon of chopped leaves in his favorite foods.
For a bigger dog, you can give him about a teaspoon of fresh, chopped leaves in his favorite foods.
However, if you are using dried thyme leave – the kind that are usually ground – you only need to use a small pinch and sprinkle it on your dog’s food.
You can also make a tea from thyme leaves and add a little to your dog’s food.
If you are making treats or cookies for your dog, add a pinch of thyme to the recipe.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Thyme?
If you give your dog thyme and he shows no ill effects, you should be able to give him the herb in small amounts in his food a couple of times per week.
Common thyme has been grown and used in cooking, medicine, and for its aroma for several thousand years. It has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. You can safely add it to your dog’s food and to his treats and cookies, in small amounts. It’s good as breath freshener, for digestion, for repelling some insects, and may have other benefits. It may even improve moods. It’s best not to give your dog thyme essential oil or too much thyme since it can lower blood pressure.