It doesn’t just flavor food or freshen breath – mint offers a range of nutritional and health benefits that can boost your dog’s wellness.
Mint is a pungent herb well-loved for its flavors, scents and pest-repelling qualities, but did you know it’s also good for your dog? When used to season recipes, or made into infusions or breath fresheners, mints of many different types can offer a range of health benefits to your pooch.
Mint is packed with nutritional value
You might be surprised to learn that mint is packed with nutrients:
- It’s a good source of vitamins A and C.
- Mint contains minerals such as calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and zinc.
- It’s also a source of dietary fiber and protein.
- Mint is a powerful antioxidant, and is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.
- Mint contains rosmarinic acid, which has been studied for its effectiveness in relieving seasonal allergy symptoms.
- It also contains menthol, a natural decongestant that helps break up phlegm and mucus.
- It is a calming and soothing herb, and can be used to soothe an upset stomach, reduce gas, and stave off nausea and motion sickness.
- Mint has even been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and to help with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
Mint has a long history as both food and medicine
The ancient Greeks cleaned their banquet tables with mint and added it to bath water, while the Romans included mint leaves in their sauces to aid digestion and freshen breath. Medieval monks incorporated mint into both their diet and medicine. It’s believed mint was brought to the New World in the 17th century, and today, the US produces 70% of the world’s peppermint and spearmint.
Juliette de Bairacli Levy, the “mother” of herbal medicine for pets, recommended an infusion using all parts of the peppermint plant for appetite loss. And in combination with ginger, mint has long been considered soothing to the whole gastrointestinal system.
Choosing and growing mints
There are quite a few different types of mint, from the well-known spearmint and peppermint, to apple mint, pineapple mint, lavender mint and many others. (Warning: Avoid pennyroyal — it’s a toxic non-culinary mint and should not be ingested by either people or pets.)
One of the great things about mint is that it’s easy to grow. I have learned a valuable lesson, though. Let mint have its way, and it will take over your garden, so if you are interested in adding mint to your dog’s diet (and yours too), plant a variety of mints in pots for your patio, balcony or window ledge. Alternatively, you can sink the pots into the ground.
It’s not unusual to see my dogs grazing on the mint that grows in my own garden. From single leaves to mature stalks, they love to include mint in their diets, whether fresh from the garden or in one of the recipes with this article.
1 lb ground meat (e.g., kangaroo, ostrich)
1 tsp first pressed olive oil, to drizzle in pan
½ cup fresh mint leaves, minced; or 1/4 cup dried mint leaves
¼ cup fresh flat parsley leaves, minced
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cracked black pepper (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced; or 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
Choose organic ingredients when you can. Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil and eggs, in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix thoroughly, until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Form into meatballs, at least 12. Drizzle olive oil into pan and turn heat on high. As soon as one bubble appears, turn heat down to medium, and add meatballs. Cook until pink disappears. Turn out onto plate, and cool completely before serving. Can be stored in the refrigerator, or frozen in a container or Ziploc bag.
Meaty meatballs can be served with whole brown rice or quinoa, and topped with a dollop of yogurt. For a tasty topper, try taking ½ cup of goat milk or Balkan style yogurt, and adding 1½ tsp first pressed olive oil; 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, minced, or 1½ tsp dried mint; 1 clove garlic, minced (optional) or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (optional).
The meatballs can also be served to your dog raw, or rolled in quinoa cereal before cooking.
Mint magic cookies
4 cups whole oat flour (or other whole flour of your choice)
1 tbsp fresh peppermint leaves, chopped; or 1½ tsp dried mint
1 tbsp Saigon cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups organic pumpkin (not canned pumpkin pie filling), apple sauce or unsweetened apple butter
1 cup filtered water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn onto cookie sheet and roll out right to the corners. Score lightly with a sharp knife. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 200°F, and bake for another 40 minutes, or until biscuits are bone hard. Remove from oven, cool completely, and store in a cookie jar or Ziploc bag.
Tear a few fresh mint leaves into small pieces. Place them in a strainer over a glass bowl. Pour boiling water over the leaves, until the water covers them completely. Cover the bowl, and let your mint infusion steep for five to ten minutes. Then, with the back of a wooden spoon, muddle the leaves, strain, and allow to cool completely. Add some of this infusion to your dog’s water bowl or to a meal. Don’t forget to enjoy it yourself, too!
Minty mouth spray
10 drops grapefruit seed extract
6 drops peppermint (Menta piperita) essential oil (choose oil that is labeled for culinary use)
¼ teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
7 ounces filtered water
Combine ingredients in a dark glass or opaque spray bottle. Store in refrigerator and shake well before use. Spritz in your dog’s mouth up to four times each day for fresher breath – three to five short pumps are all you need! Don’t be surprised if your dog smacks his lips after a “spritz”!