Dog parents are often curious about what herbs are safe for their pups. There are many foods that are perfectly healthy for humans, but may be dangerous to dogs.
Lemongrass ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues when eaten in large quantities.If you dog ingests a small amount, it most likely will not cause harm but if you are concerned, always contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control.
Lemongrass is often used in essential oil form in shampoos. This most likely will not cause any issues but with any new product, use a small amount at first in a small area to ensure they do not have a reaction.
What is Lemongrass?
Lemongrass is a tall, perennial plant that grows in certain areas of Asia, Australia, and Africa—primarily tropical and subtropical climates. During rainy summer months, lemongrass plants can get up to 10 feet tall.
A lemongrass plant consists of several layers, including a hard outer husk and a soft, white, inner leaf. The inside layer is what you most commonly find in lemongrass herbs and teas.
What Is Lemongrass Good for?
Lemongrass is used in a multitude of humane products like soaps, perfumes, and other cosmetics. It has a fresh, citrus smell that is appealing to many people.
Lemongrass is a part of the same plant family as Citronella, a common ingredient used as a bug repellent. Lemongrass essential oils are sometimes recommended as a “natural” bug repellent for dogs but due to the possibility of topical irritation and GI upset if your dog were to lick it off, I do not recommend using it on your pup. Diffusing citronella or lemongrass oil outdoors may act as an insect repellent to keep away mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. This is perfectly pet safe.
What Other Herbs Are Bad for My Dog?
In addition to lemongrass, there are other herbs that can be potentially dangerous if ingested by a pet. Here are a few to look out for that may be common in your home garden.
Garlic, Onions & Chives
Garlic, onions and chives are all members of the Allium family, and they both can be toxic to your furry friends. In small doses, they most likely will not cause issues but in large quantities, can cause severe anemia (low red blood cell level). Therefore, if you are concerned your dog has ingested a large amount of garlic, onions or chives, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. .
In small quantities, ingestion of Allium plants can cause nausea, oral irritation, vomiting and diarrhea therefore it’s best to not expose your dog to these plants.
The chamomile plant is toxic to dogs. If your pup were to come into contact with one, can cause topical irritation, vomiting, diarrhea or an allergic reaction. If you are concerned that your pup may have come into contact with the plant, give them a good bath and monitor them closely.
Chamomile is often used in many “natural” products (such as shampoos and supplements). Generally, chamomile is safe in these forms. It is often touted to benefit skin irritation and sometimes is given as a supplement for GI concerns. It’s important to determine the underlying cause of your pup’s issues before treating empirically with any supplement. As with any new supplement, always consult a veterinarian before administering it to your pup.
Tomatoes themselves are non-toxic dogs, but the leaves and vines are a member of the same family as the nightshade plant. If you have tomatoes growing in your backyard, keep an eye on your dog if they go near them.
If ingested, it can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach issues and diarrhea to fatigue, drowsiness, and a slow heart rate. A small nibble on a leaf most likely will not cause any issues, but ingestion of a large amount may result in the aforementioned signs.
Essential oils are becoming popular for humans and animals alike. Very little research has been done into the safety and efficacy of these oils in humans, and even less so in dogs. Tea tree oil is known to be toxic to pets and should be avoided in all forms. According to Pet Poison Hotline, “As little as 7 drops of 100% oil has resulted in severe poisoning”.
Many essential oils can cause irritation if applied directly. Also, when diffusing essential oils, keep in mind that a dog’s sense of smell is 40 times that of a human, so even though it might seem pleasant to us, it could be quite unpleasant to a dog.
What Herbs Are Good for My Dog?
Rosemary is commonly used as an additive in dog food as a preservative. Anecdotally in high doses, it can cause seizures although no definitive research has proven or disproven this theory. Rosemary is often used for its hypothesized antioxidant properties and also for GI upset.
Just like in humans, ginger in small amounts is thought to help with an upset stomach. GInger is safe to give in small quantities but keep in mind that it’s important to determine the underlying cause of your pup’s gastrointestinal upset before starting any medications or supplements.