It may come as a surprise to you that some herbs that are good for humans, are bad for pets. Not only that, but there are herbs that are safe for some types of pets, yet are toxic to others. For example, Horsetail is toxic to horses, ironically enough. It helps dogs in several ways, however, and is commonly recommended for joint health. Additionally, the toxicity status may not be available for all pets, leaving us in the dark one way or another.
“If a body receives a substance in quantities or concentrations that cannot be effectively dealt with by its natural functions, the excess must be dealt with by emergency means,” explains Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Live. “Vomiting, diarrhea, and other purgative functions are then triggered to eliminate the invasive substance(s). If this fails, systemic shutdown or damage may occur.”
Then there are related concerns as well, such as allergic reactions or drug interactions. When in doubt, discuss it with your veterinarian or skip it altogether. Remember, too, that any plant can be toxic if you don’t follow instructions or feed too much.
Herbs that are Toxic to Pets
Following is a list of common herbs that are known to be toxic to some (or all) pets, with a summary of expertise provided by the SPCA. There’s an infographic below for easy reference.
Borage (Borage officinalis) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Borage tannins and mucilage can cause vomiting, diarrhea and dermatitis.
Caraway (Carum carvi) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Caraway oils, carvone and limonene can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Eucalyptus species are toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Eucalyptus oils (eucalyptol) can cause digestive upset, hypersalivation, weakness and depression.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Garlic contains N-propyl disulfide, which may cause digestive upset, hemolytic anemia, elevated heart rate, and blood in the urine.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) are toxic to dogs.
Hops may cause an elevated temperature, seizures or death.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is toxic to horses.
Horsetail contains Thiaminase, which may cause Thiamine deficiency, resulting in weight loss, weakness, tremors and death.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Lovage has volatile oils, including phthalide lactones, and it’s a diuretic.
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa/indica) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Marijuana contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which may result in listlessness, excitation, digestive upset, low blood pressure, low temperature, seizures, or coma.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is toxic to dogs and cats.
Marjoram can irritate the gastrointestinal system, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
Mint (Mentha sp.) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Mint’s essential oils may cause digestive issues if large amounts are ingested.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Oregano can irritate the gastrointestinal system, causing digestive upset.
Sorrel (Rumex scutatus) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Sorrel contains soluble oxalates. In small amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal upset. Regularly consuming high amounts may cause serious organ damage.
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
Tarragon oils are considered toxic to dogs, cats and horses. Ingesting the herb may result in mild digestive upset.
Yucca spp. is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
Yucca’s saponins may cause digestive upset in dogs and cats. Yucca may cause dermatitis or liver disease in horses.
If you believe your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance, contact a veterinarian immediately.
??? What herbs do you give to your pets?
ASPCA Animal Poison Control
Tilford, Gregory L. & Wulff, Mary L. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Live. 2009.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
30 Essential Oils That May Not Be Safe For Pets
The Dangers of Tea Tree Oil for Pets
7 Stunning Super-Herbs to Grow for Pets (with Infographic)
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