Picture of a dog with herbs/plants in their food bowl

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Nobody wants a sick pup, so as a dog owner, it’s essential to know which foods may be harmful to your beloved dog. There are commonly discussed foods that we don’t give to dogs, such as chocolate and caffeine, but specific herbs can often be a bit of a gray area.

Knowing the ingredients in the food you give to your dog is essential in keeping your pooch happy and healthy so you know exactly what to avoid. This is also relevant for any garden fanatics with a dog who loves to snoop around their plants.

There are many herbs you probably don’t even know are toxic to dogs. So, it’s important to read up on which herbs and plants in your garden may harm your dog to save you a trip to the vet.

Discover what herbs are toxic to dogs in this article to avoid giving your favorite furry friend anything that will upset their tummy or health. Read on to discover how to prevent and treat herb poisoning if your dog finds themselves in your herb garden.

List of herbs toxic to dogs

Chives

Some dog breeds are more sensitive to chives than others, such as Japanese breeds like the Shiba Inu.1 Chives can sometimes be included as flavoring in dog treats, so it’s important to read the ingredient list on your dog’s treats before throwing one their way. Many breeds can tolerate very low doses of chives, but it is strongly advised to avoid chives when possible.2

Chives can cause red blood cell damage by rupturing them, leading to anemia.1 Other symptoms of chive ingestion include drooling, nausea, oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, elevated heart rate and respiratory rate, weakness, and exercise intolerance.2

Onion

In the same Allium plant family as chives, onion is poisonous to dogs in dried or powdered form as it contains thiosulfate, which is toxic to dogs.1

Ingesting onions can lead to Heinz body hemolytic anemia in dogs, which can cause red blood cell damage and cause them to malfunction or die. Other symptoms of onion ingestion include drooling, nausea, oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, elevated heart rate and respiratory rate, and weakness.

Salt

It is normal for a dog to ingest very small amounts of salt, but the lethal amount of salt ingestion for a dog is typically 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.1 Salt poisoning can result in vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, incoordination, excessive thirst, urination, tremors, seizures, coma, or even death.1

Lavender

Despite its calming properties, the aromatic plant lavender can be toxic to dogs. Lavender contains linalool, which is a compound toxic to dogs when consumed. Essential oils containing lavender can also cause severe reactions in your pooch, including abdominal pain, bloated abdomen, fever, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, shock, vomiting, trembling in dogs, or difficulty breathing.

Oregano

Like many of the other herbs on this list, oregano can be ingested in very small quantities. However, oil of oregano and large portions of oregano are toxic to dogs because they can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.1

Garlic

Like onion, garlic is very toxic for dogs and can cause Heinz body hemolytic anemia, which can cause red blood cell damage.1 Some symptoms include decreased appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation, depression, weakness, exercise intolerance, pale mucous membranes, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, jaundice, or blood in the urine.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus contains eucalyptol, a gastrointestinal irritant that can be very dangerous to dogs when consumed. The eucalyptus species are toxic to dogs and can cause digestive upset, hypersalivation, weakness, and depression.

Hops

Hops can be very dangerous when ingested by dogs as it can cause a potentially life-threatening increase in body temperature called malignant hyperthermia.1 These enormous vines-plants are easy to spot and are dangerous to dogs in all forms: dried, fresh, or cooked.2

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic herb, contact a veterinarian immediately.

How to Treat Herb Poisoning in Dogs

If you know your dog has ingested any toxic herbs or plants, it’s crucial to have them examined by a veterinarian immediately. A common mistake is waiting for your pet to become ill before contacting emergency help. The problem can be addressed sooner if you notice they have eaten something they shouldn’t have and let a professional know immediately.4

Keep an eye out for the symptoms of herb poisoning and try to identify the plant by taking a sample and photo of the herb or collecting your dog’s vomit in a plastic bag.3 This is crucial so that when you contact your vet for examination, you have as much information to give them as possible. It is not advisable to induce vomiting in your pup unless specifically instructed by a veterinarian.3

The best way to prevent your dog from eating harmful herbs is to keep toxic herbs out of reach and closely monitor what they’re eating.

How to Prevent Herb Poisoning in Dogs

The easiest way to prevent herb poisoning is by being careful about the herbs and plants you grow in your garden and staying aware of the surrounding flora and fauna on your walks. For stubborn plants in your garden, this may involve hiring a landscaper.4 It’s also important to keep any dried herbs or herb plants in the house out of reach from your furry companion or safely stored away.

Educating yourself on the various plants and herbs toxic to dogs is the first step to preventing herb poisoning. Do your research before giving them any food, or better yet, stick to dog food that is certified safe for them eat.

Non-Toxic Herbs for Dogs

So now that you know what herbs are toxic to dogs, you may be wondering, "what herbs are non-toxic to dogs?".

There are a few herbs that are non-toxic for dogs, but you should always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new ingredients to your dog’s diet that is not safe-certified dog food.

Generally, anise, sweet basil, chamomile, cilantro, cinnamon, dill tea, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and turmeric are safe in very small quantities on rare occurrences for your dog. 1 In fact there is some speculation that these herbs can even have beneficial effects on your pup, providing they are an adult, healthy dog with no pre-existing conditions.

Small quantities of powdered anise may increase your dog’s energy, while small amounts of sweet basil or chamomile are known for calming overactive or anxious dogs.1 When prepared properly, small amounts of cilantro can help to ease gas or bloating, while small amounts of cinnamon can help to regulate blood sugar.1

While the essential oil form of dill is toxic, dill tea can help with bad breath and flatulence.1 Peppermint has similar effects. 1 Meanwhile, very small amounts of raw ginger can be given to your dog if they are struggling with motion sickness, and there is some evidence that it benefits cognitive support.1 Rosemary, thyme, turmeric, and sage are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. 1

An excessive amount of any of these herbs in a strong oil form may severely affect your dog. None of these herbs should be consumed without permission from your veterinarian.

Which herbs are poisonous to dogs?

There are several herbs that are toxic to dogs. Chives, onions, salt, lavender, oregano, garlic, eucalyptus, and hops are just a few of the many herbs poisonous to dogs. However, there are numerous other herbs poisonous to dogs, such as aloe, asparagus fern, and parsley, just to name a few.

Therefore, it is important to research before giving your dog any food that is out of their ordinary diet. When in doubt, always ask a vet before giving your dog any new food.

What herbs can dogs eat safely?

While there are a few herbs that your dog can safely eat, you should not give them to your dog daily. Some of these herbs include anise, sweet basil, chamomile, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and turmeric.1 Only give them to your dog in small amounts every once in a while.

Some of these herbs can actually have beneficial effects when used in very small quantities but always check with your vet first. Herbs can affect dogs in different ways, so they’re not advised for puppies, older dogs, or dogs with pre-existing health conditions.

Before giving any herbs to your dogs, you must consult your veterinarian, so they can advise you on the correct dosage and type of herb. Oils and strong versions of these herbs are never recommended, as these are often too intense for your pup.

What should I do if I suspect that my dog has ingested a toxic herb?

If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic herb, immediately call your veterinarian or the pet poison helpline. Follow their advice, and once your pup is in their care, try to detect the source of the poisoning.

Removing this hazard from your garden or home is extremely important to prevent your dog from coming into contact with it again. Although it may be your first instinct to try and induce vomiting to get the herb or plant out of your dog’s system, you must consult a professional before taking such drastic action.

Picture of a puppy eating a plant in a garden

Although some herbs have health benefits for humans, this does not mean they will always translate the same with dogs. Simple herbs like onions, oregano, and chives can cause terrible reactions in dogs and make them incredibly ill. Knowing which herbs may make your dog sick is the first step in preventing the ingestion of poisonous plants or herbs.

Keep an eye on your pup, and remember, some reactions may be even more intense if your dog has allergies to certain foods. So, it is vital that you speak to a veterinarian right away if you notice your dog has ingested a toxic herb.

If you need more advice on nutritional information for your pup, you can use Dutch to consult one of our licensed veterinarians that are always on hand to help. You can also scroll through our Dutch blogs to find helpful information about feeding your dog or look through some of our vet-approved products and medicine for your little furry companion. Whether you’re a pet parent or just an animal fanatic, Dutch is your source for pet tips, tricks, and health advice.

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References

  1. Turner, Beth. “Herbs & Spices for Dogs” Preventative Vet, 10 Nov. 2022 preventivevet.com/dogs/herbs-spices-for-dogs 

  2. Dyck, Amy. “Can Dogs Have Thyme? 50 Dangerous Garden Plants for Dogs” Home Alive Pets https://blog.homesalive.ca/dog-blog/dangerous-garden-plants-for-dogs

  3. McKinnon, Melody. “14 Herbs That Can Poison Pets” All Natural Pet Care https://allnaturalpetcare.com/blog/2019/10/30/14-herbs-poison-pets-infographic/

  4. Reisen, Jan. “Poisonous Plants for Dogs” American Kennel Club,  01 Jul 2022 https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/protect-your-pooch-from-poisonous-plants/

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