Is Lemongrass Safe for Dogs?

Lemongrass belongs to the grass family, and 50 different species are native to south India and tropical portions of Asia. It’s used in many recipes in regional cuisines due to its lemony flavor. Cymbopogon citratus is the most common type of lemongrass with a bulbous appearance similar to a scallion. Its lemon flavor makes it popular for use in curries, teas, and soups. Citronella oil is derived from another commonly found species, Cymbopogon nardus. 

Is lemongrass safe for dogs?

Lemongrass is ornamental, and it’s not uncommon to find it planted in gardens in warmer, more humid climates. Fortunately, the most commonly found species (Cymbopogon citratus, cymbopogon nardus, and Cymbopogon winterianus) are not inherently toxic to your canine friend when ingested in small amounts. Here is another citrus fruit that your dog might like.

As with anything in dogs, moderation is always key. Too much of anything (even if it’s non-toxic) can cause stomach or intestinal upset in animals. If your dog has taken a liking to the lemongrass in your yard, your main concern should be stomach upset. Copious amounts of lemongrass can cause vomiting or loose stools/diarrhea. Concern for toxicity or poisoning is minimal, even if your dog mows the grass down like he’s a goat. 

Can lemongrass cause an intestinal blockage? 

Too much plant material of any kind can lead to an intestinal blockage, particularly in animals that are not designed to exclusively eat plants. Lemongrass as a species isn’t solely responsible for an obstruction in the intestines when eaten in large amounts, but since it is a grass, it’s possible. 

The signs of an intestinal obstruction are: 

  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting, particularly after eating or drinking
  • Inability to keep water down
  • Painful abdomen (walking with a hunched appearance)
  • Restlessness 

 

If you notice any of these signs after you’ve observed your dog chewing on lemongrass, you should seek veterinary care immediately. Your dog will need x-rays and an ultrasound to rule out or confirm an obstruction. If there is a blockage in the intestines, your dog will require immediate surgery. 

What if my dog develops stomach upset after eating lemongrass?

If your dog starts experiencing gastrointestinal upset after eating lemongrass and your veterinarian has confirmed there isn’t an intestinal blockage, then supportive care is all you can do. Supportive care can be as intensive as hospitalization with intravenous fluids, anti-diarrheal, and anti-nausea medications. If your vet feels the GI signs are mild, they will allow you to take your pet home to recover. They could suggest giving fluids underneath the skin for long-term absorption to prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. 

What should I do if I have lemongrass in my garden?

Ideally, if you have dogs, you should avoid planting species that tend to be tasty for dogs, plant Kiwis and Grapefruit. Lemongrass may fall into that category, especially if you have a dog who likes to cut the grass for you. If your dogs are chronic grass eaters, lemongrass may not be the best choice for your yard because of its attractive, lemony taste. For gardens with lemongrass already thriving, perhaps cordon that area off or pull it up to prevent any potential issues with your canine pal. 

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