Can Dogs Eat Lemongrass? Everything You Need To Know

Can dogs eat lemongrass

Lemongrass is used in a variety of dishes, particularly in Asian cuisines. Its distinct lemony flavor makes it popular for curries, soups, and teas, attracting more uses in Thai foods. If you use it for cooking, you may be wondering if it is safe for your dog to eat Lemongrass. 

The short answer is your dog can eat Lemongrass in small amounts and not suffer from any effects; however, high concentrations of this grass in your dog’s system can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, lemongrass ingestion should be supervised or avoided altogether. 

Since there is no standard for how much Lemongrass is safe for your dog, this article delves deep into this topic, highlighting why Lemongrass is not safe, its effect on dogs, and the treatment of lemongrass poisoning. 

What is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass is a member of the grass family and grows widely in parts of Asia, Australia, and Africa. Cymbopogon citratus is a variety of Lemongrass that grows in Asia and is the most common. Cymbopogon nardus is the variety which Citronella oil is extracted from.  

Lemongrass can be used in various forms, with the most common ones being as a dried herb, fresh grass, powder form, or as an essential oil. This makes it helpful in making soaps, perfumes, food, and as a bug repellant.  

Lemongrass Poisoning in Dogs

Generally, Lemongrass is considered safe in gardens where dogs can access it. However, dogs are not herbivores meaning their digestive systems cannot fully digest Lemongrass and large quantities of plant matter.  

This is why Lemongrass is not recommended for dogs, as high amounts of it in the digestive system cause intestinal blockages. This can lead to an upset stomach, among other gastrointestinal issues discussed below. 

What Are The Symptoms of Lemongrass Poisoning In Dogs

If your garden has Lemongrass and your canine friend occasionally nibbles on a few leaves, it is unlikely to cause any issues. Lemongrass is safe; however, if your dog takes a lot of it at one given time, it is bound to suffer from intestinal blockages. 

Now, it can be challenging to point out blockages by looking at your dog, so here are some of the signs you should look out for:

  • Distended abdomen. This comes from the accumulation of plant material if your dog eats large pieces of Lemongrass. 
  • Abdominal discomfort. Your dog may roll continuously or slouch in a sitting position, indicating distress in the stomach.
  • Reduced appetite. The obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract from large amounts of Lemongrass can significantly cut your dog’s urge for food until treatment is done.
  • Vomiting. Lemongrass has a hard, fibrous material that, when ingested, can cause obstruction, resulting in vomiting. 
  • Diarrhea. An excessive amount of Lemongrass in your dog’s system can result in diarrhea. 
  • Inability to eliminate. Your dog might have difficulty passing stool due to constipation caused by the accumulation of matter in the system.  
  • Fever. Fever is a natural response when the body tries to fight foreign, obstructive, or toxic matter; therefore, your dog may suffer from fever after ingesting high amounts of Lemongrass. 

What Causes Lemongrass Poisoning in Dogs

Lemongrass has a high concentration of cyanogenic glycosides and plant toxins that the human system can withstand. Like Citronella oil, these compounds make Lemongrass a common ingredient in the manufacturing of shampoos, bug and insect repellants, and deodorants. 

This is due to the high citral and general content that releases a strong pleasant smell. The strong scent works as an insect repellant to keep mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks at bay. This compound in high quantities causes severe GI upsets when your dog ingests Lemongrass. 

According to the ASPCA, cyanogenic glycosides and essential oils present in Lemongrass have a toxic effect on dogs. It is not clear which variety of Lemongrass is unsafe for dogs, so it is advisable to avoid it. 

How to Diagnose Lemongrass Poisoning in Dogs

Although rare, lemongrass poisoning can be diagnosed by running a few tests on your dog to determine the extent of poisoning and its effects on your dog’s system. 

Usually, vets will order a urinalysis test, a complete blood count, and a biochemistry profile. These tests will reveal the amount of toxins in your dog’s system and any imbalances present. The vet may also conduct a physical examination to feel the condition of your dog’s GI tract. 

If your dog has suffered intestinal blockages, the vet will find sensitive-to-touch spots along the GI tract or a mass where the plant material has clumped up. If the vet finds this, they may order further imaging of the system through Ultrasounds or X-rays for accurate diagnosis.

Additionally, the vet will interview you to find any information relating to the poisoning. They may ask you questions about your dog’s activity the past few days, any chances it could have eaten plant material, its diet for the last few days, and the overall lifestyle of your dog.

The tests and the vet’s evaluation will highlight the cause of poisoning, and if that reveals Lemongrass poisoning, the vet will start the dog on treatment immediately. 

Treatment of Lemongrass Poisoning in Dogs

Treatment will highly depend on the extent of poisoning from the test results. Primarily, vets will treat lemongrass poisoning by administering intravenous fluids, especially for dogs that appear to be in distress. 

Fluid therapy comes in handy to help flush out the toxins resulting from the mass in the dog’s system. Your vet might request continuous imaging to keep track of movement and ensure the accumulation of plant mass reduces in the gastrointestinal tract. 

In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the mass and correct any damage in the system. Other interventions would include strategies to remove the identified toxin. The vet may induce vomiting, use activated charcoal or perform gastric lavage, which is the process of clearing the stomach’s content. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I do After My Dog Ingests Lemongrass?

The most immediate response should be to contact your vet and book an appointment as soon as possible. You should also monitor your dog and look out for signs such as vomiting, enlarged stomach, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and fever. 

If your dog happens to have any of these signs, visit the vet immediately for detailed assessments and tests. That way, if your dog has suffered lemongrass poisoning, treatment can start as soon as possible. 

Should I Get Rid of Lemongrass in my Garden?

If you have dogs, it is advisable to avoid plants they might be attracted to, such as lemongrass plants. Lemongrass in small quantities is unlikely to cause harm; however, since you cannot control how much Lemongrass your dog eats, it is better to get rid of it. 

Alternatively, fence your garden to keep your dog out of bounds and prevent its access to Lemongrass.  

Final Thoughts

Lemongrass is a favorite for many, thanks to its lemony flavor. However, it is not entirely safe for dogs as large amounts of it can lead to intestinal blockage. This brings along other gastrointestinal upset to your dog resulting from lemongrass poisoning.

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Maureen G.

Maureen has been a Content Writer in the pet niche for over 5 years. She has vast knowledge on dog-related topics including dog breeds, dog health, dog care, and nutrition. With keen interest on the evolving world of dogs, Maureen stays on top of developments, specifically designer dogs. She is a part-time volunteer in dog shelters and rescue centers, therefore conversant with the day-to-day lives of dogs.

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