Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is found in Africa, Australia, and Asia. It’s an edible plant used to give incredible flavor to many ethnic dishes, especially in Thai cooking. It’s non-toxic for humans, but is lemongrass plant safe for dogs?
What Is Lemongrass?
Lemongrass has many varieties, but the Cymbopogon citratus and Cymbopogon flexuosus species are the most common. This plant has fibrous stalks, and smell like lemons (hence the name!).
These plants are typically used as a culinary herb, and for medicinal properties.
If you’ve eaten Thai cuisine, you may have tasted its beautiful flavor in dishes such as:
- Thai Lemongrass Chicken
- Lemongrass Coconut Curry
- Grilled meat dishes
In countries like Sri Lanka and India, lemongrass is used in curries and soups. It’s also used in tea as a traditional remedy for treating fevers, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and skin problems.
Because of its unique aroma, it’s also used in perfumes, soaps, insect repellants, and for aromatherapy treatments.
Is Lemongrass Safe For Dogs?
The ASPCA considers lemongrass toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, so it’s not safe for your dog like other herbs (e.g. cilantro) that you might cook with. It’s not advisable to add this plant to your dog’s diet in any form, or let them inhale it, or put it on their skin.
It’s unlikely that your dog will eat lemongrass from your garden or kitchen due to the texture and flavor, and if they have a quick chew on a lemongrass stalk it’s not likely to cause them harm. This plant is not as poisonous like other garden varieties like monkshood, foxglove, or yarrow which are highly toxic to dogs.
However, if your dog develops an insatiable taste for lemongrass and eats a large quantity of this plant, you’ll need to see your vet, as this can cause severe gastrointestinal problems for your pet.
Symptoms Of Lemongrass Poisoning In Dogs
Dogs are herbivores by nature, so they’re unlikely to eat enough lemongrass plant to make them sick. However, if your dog does eat a large quantity of lemongrass, it can cause serious intestinal pain and even blockages in their GI tract.
If your dog has eaten a lot of lemongrass, keep a close watch on them for 24 hours. If you notice any of these symptoms, get them to a vet as soon as possible:
- Stomach pain
- Bloated abdomen
- Inability to pass stools
If your dog has somehow eaten lemongrass oil, it’s important to check with your vet right away, as this is concentrated and can cause problems for your dog’s internal organs and digestive tract.
Treatment Of Lemongrass Poisoning In Dogs
If your dog has shown symptoms of lemongrass poisoning that aren’t getting better, take them to your vet as soon as possible. Depending on the vet’s diagnosis, your dog may need intravenous fluids to rehydrate them, and treatments to flush any lemongrass blockage from their system.
In severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove the plant mass from your dog’s stomach or intestines and check for any damage that may have happened to your dog’s internal organs.
Your dog could also have poisoning from any pesticides that might be present on the lemongrass they ate.
As stated above, it’s very rare for dogs to eat even small amounts of lemongrass – let alone enough to send them to the vet. But it’s best to be aware of these symptoms and risks if you have lemongrass growing around your property.
Is Lemongrass Oil Safe For Dogs To Breathe?
Many people use essential oils to help control fleas on their dogs. But all essential oils can cause irritation to your pet’s skin, so if you use them they should be extremely diluted to ensure they’re safe for dogs and not harming your pet in any way.
Like most essential oils, lemongrass oil is not advised as safe for dogs to breathe, or to put on their skin. Essential oils contain high levels of concentrated plant oils, so can be toxic to dogs or cause skin burns, even in small amounts. Oil that is absorbed through the skin can also harm your dog’s liver function – so think twice before applying it to your dog, even when diluted.
The harmful compounds in lemongrass oil are known as cyanogenic glycosides. These are natural toxins which the plant produces to defend itself again animals and pathogens that might try to eat it. These compounds can be extremely harmful to your dog as they can metabolize into cyanide – which can cause seizures and death in your pet.
These toxic compounds are also found in apple seeds, and the pits of fruits like cherries and peaches (which are also unsafe for dogs!)
It’s safer to avoid lemongrass oil completely if you have a dog around – and if they ingest this oil, take your dog straight to the vet for advice and treatment.
In Summary – Is Lemongrass Safe For Dogs?
So, is lemongrass safe for dogs? Although lemongrass is not toxic to humans, it’s generally regarded as unsafe for your dog to eat. A small much on a lemongrass stalk isn’t likely to harm them, but eating lemongrass in large amounts can cause stomach issues.
Essential lemongrass oil is not safe for your dog to breathe, and it’s not recommended to use this oil as a flea treatment either, even if it’s been very diluted. If your dog has flea problems, there are other safe and natural flea treatments out there that pose less risk for your dog.