As a canine health expert, I get asked all the time if dogs can eat popular human foods like Altoids mints. I know those cursed-looking tins are tempting to our furry friends, but are Altoids safe for dogs to eat? The short answer is no, Altoids should be kept far away from dogs.
The minty flavor might smell enticing to your pooch, but Altoids contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs like peppermint oil and sugar substitutes. Eating even a few mints can cause major health issues in dogs like gastrointestinal upset, muscle tremors, and rapid heart rate. Definitely not worth the risk!
Want to know why veterinarians like myself warn against feeding Altoids to dogs? What signs of toxicity should you watch out for? As a dog expert, I have all the details pet parents need to keep their pups safe. Read on for my full breakdown on dogs and Altoids – let’s keep our furry friends happy and healthy!
Can Dogs Eat Altoids?
The short answer is no, dogs should not eat Altoids mints. Altoids contain menthol, which can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. The sugar alcohol xylitol is also potentially toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar.
While peppermints are not inherently toxic to dogs, the high menthol concentration in Altoids can lead to adverse effects. It’s better to avoid feeding Altoids to dogs altogether. There are pet-friendly breath mint alternatives that are much safer.
What are Altoids?
Altoids are a brand of small peppermint flavored mints produced by the Mars Wrigley Company. They have a bold peppermint taste from their high menthol oil content.
Altoids mints come in several varieties:
Original – The iconic tin with a strong peppermint flavor
Sours – A puckering sour candy mint
Arctic – A cooling white peppermint mint
Cinnamon – Featuring cinnamon oil flavoring
Sugar-free – Uses sorbitol instead of sugar
The original Altoids Smalls are the most well-known. They are about the size of a Tic Tac but pack a much stronger minty flavor.
Altoids mints are sometimes called “Curiously Strong Mints” because of their intense minty kick. Their small size makes them easy to slip in a pocket or purse.
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Can Altoids be Bad for Dogs?
Yes, Altoids mints can potentially be toxic and cause adverse health effects in dogs who eat them. Here’s an overview of the ingredients and components that make Altoids unsafe for dogs:
Menthol – High amounts of menthol can cause digestive upset in dogs.
Sugar alcohols – Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can lead to dangerously low blood sugar and liver damage.
Essential oils – Peppermint and cinnamon oils can cause breathing issues in some dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds.
Choking hazard – The small size of Altoids makes them a choking risk for dogs.
Even just 1-2 mints could potentially make a small dog sick. It’s best to avoid giving Altoids to dogs altogether. Keep Altoids safely stored out of your dog’s reach.
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When Shouldn’t You Feed Altoids To Your Dog?
It’s never a good idea to purposefully feed Altoids mints to dogs. Here are some key times when it is especially important not to give your dog Altoids:
On an empty stomach – Eating Altoids without food in their stomach increases risk of menthol toxicity.
When left unsupervised – Dogs may get into and eat an entire tin of Altoids when left alone.
With other mint products – The menthol could build up to toxic levels if combined with other minty foods.
With health conditions – Altoids are riskier for dogs with diabetes, liver disease, or breathing issues.
With medications – Peppermint may potentially interact with some medications like cyclosporine.
It’s simply better to avoid feeding your dog Altoids at any time. The risks outweigh any potential benefits. Talk to your vet before giving your dog any new foods or treats like Altoids.
What Are The Nutritional Value Of Altoids For Dogs?
Altoids offer no real nutritional value for dogs. Here’s a look at the nutritional makeup of Original Altoids:
- 0 grams protein
- 9 grams carbohydrates
- 0 grams fiber
- 0 grams fat
Since the main ingredients in Altoids are sugar and corn syrup, they are considered an unhealthy “junk food” snack for dogs.
While the peppermint oil provides some antioxidants and vitamin A, the amount is negligible. There are no other vitamins, minerals, or nutrients in Altoids.
You’re much better off giving your dog a nutritious dog treat made for canine consumption and digestion if you want to provide added nutritional value.
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What Are The Ingredients Contained In Altoids?
Here is a look at the complete ingredient list printed on Altoids Smalls peppermint tins:
- Gum arabic
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Corn syrup
- Soy lecithin
The bolded ingredients are the most concerning in Altoids for dogs:
- Sugar – Can cause weight gain, diabetes.
- Gelatin – Derived from animal bones/ligaments.
- Corn syrup – No health benefits, possible contamination risks.
- Honey – Choking hazard from sticky consistency.
- Menthol – Can cause gut issues in high amounts.
- Soy – Possible allergen for dogs with soy sensitivities.
There are no ingredients in Altoids that are nutritionally beneficial or safe for dogs. It’s best to avoid feeding Altoids as the risks outweigh any potential rewards.
Possible Risks & Precautions of Altoids to Dogs:
Here’s an overview of the most significant risks and dangers of dogs eating Altoids mints:
Gastrointestinal distress – Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Mostly from menthol.
Blood sugar crashes – Xylitol toxicity can rapidly plummet blood sugar to dangerous levels.
Liver damage – Xylitol may also cause liver failure, especially in large amounts.
Respiratory issues – Breathing difficulties in brachycephalic dog breeds.
Choking or blockages – From swallowing Altoids whole or accumulated sugar/corn syrup.
To help avoid these risks, be sure to keep all candy and breath mints safely out of your dog’s reach. Never purposefully give Altoids to dogs. Contact your vet immediately if ingestion occurs.
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Altoids Alternatives for Dogs:
Rather than Altoids, consider these safer minty treats for dogs’ breath:
Dental chews – Look for veterinarian-approved dental chews with natural mint flavor.
Frozen mint dog treats – You can make homemade frozen mint treats by blending mint, coconut oil, turmeric, etc.
Mint-flavored toothpaste – Special toothpaste for dogs comes in yummy mint flavors.
Fresh mint – Offer a small amount of fresh mint leaves for gentle mint flavor. Avoid essential oils.
Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate fresh foods, dental chews, or other products to use if you want to give your dog mint-flavored treats.
Never offer any human food or candy without checking with your vet first.
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Can Dogs Eat Peppermint Altoids?
Altoids mints contain peppermint oil as their primary flavoring. Peppermint oil gives Altoids their strong minty aroma and flavor.
While peppermint itself is not toxic to dogs, the high concentration found in Altoids mints can cause adverse effects in some dogs. Consuming Altoids may lead to gastrointestinal upset like vomiting or diarrhea.
The peppermint oil in Altoids can also exacerbate breathing issues in breeds with flat faces like Pugs and Bulldogs. It’s best not to let your dog eat Altoids, even if they contain peppermint.
Can Dogs Eat Altoids Mints?
In addition to peppermint oil, Altoids smalls mints contain other ingredients that can be problematic for dogs.
The main ingredients in Altoids smalls are:
- Gum arabic
- Natural flavors
- Corn syrup
- Soy lecithin
Both menthol and sugar alcohols like xylitol can cause toxicity in dogs when consumed. The gut issues associated with menthol are mainly seen in larger doses.
However, even very small amounts of xylitol can dramatically drop a dog’s blood sugar and potentially lead to liver failure. So it’s best not to let your dog eat Altoids mints.
What if my dog accidentally eats a lot of Altoids?
If your dog manages to get into an Altoids tin and eat multiple mints, take action right away. Immediately contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for advice.
Signs of Altoids toxicity can show up within 30 minutes but may be delayed for hours. Look for vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, wobbly gait, seizures or breathing issues.
Your vet may advise you to induce vomiting if ingestion just occurred. Never induce vomiting without guidance. Bring the Altoids package with ingredients list and number eaten.
Prompt veterinary treatment is crucial for managing menthol/xylitol toxicity and preventing long-term complications. Don’t wait to see if symptoms develop.
Frequently Asked Questions about Can Dogs Eat Altoids
What happens if my dog ate a mint?
One Altoids mint likely won’t cause major issues beyond possibly mild stomach upset. Still, call your vet to be safe, especially if your dog is small.
Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, or behavior changes. Try to determine if the mint contained xylitol or menthol. Don’t induce vomiting without veterinary guidance.
Can dogs eat breath mints?
No, dogs should not eat breath mints like Altoids. Many contain xylitol or menthol which are toxic for dogs. Even sugar-free mints aren’t safe. Stick to pet-approved dental chews for doggie breath freshening.
Is mint or peppermint toxic to dogs?
Pure mint leaf is not toxic but may cause stomach upset in large amounts. However, concentrated peppermint oils and extracts can be dangerous. Avoid giving dogs mint/peppermint candies, gum, tea, etc.
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What are the side effects of Altoids mints?
Altoids side effects in dogs can include vomiting, diarrhea, dangerously low blood sugar, liver damage, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, and even seizures or coma in severe cases.
The Takeaway: Can Dogs Eat Altoids
I hope this post provided helpful information on potential risks of dogs ingesting Altoids mints. While Altoids contain some refreshing minty flavor, they also have several ingredients toxic to dogs like xylitol and menthol. It is never recommended to purposefully give your dog Altoids.
Accidental ingestion of even a couple mints merits an immediate call to your veterinarian. They can advise you on possible toxicity signs to watch for and whether to induce vomiting. With prompt treatment, most dogs recover fully after eating Altoids.
The best way to keep your dog safe is to store all breath mints and candies out of their reach. Opt for dental chews or other dog-safe options if you want to give your pup minty fresh breath. As always, be proactive about canine safety by checking with your vet before introducing new foods.
I am a graduate from the esteemed University of Wisconsin Madison, where I specialized in Animal Sciences. Additionally, I’m excited to share that I am a soon-to-be graduate of the prestigious UC Davis Vet School, class of 2020.