Are Bay Leaves Poisonous?

Bay leaves come from the laurel plant, and they are native to the Mediterranean. They are often used in recipes because they have a subtle fragrance and flavor that can be extracted with steam or heat. People use them in soups, stews, and other foods to add flavor to the dish. 

People often think that bay leaves are poisonous because most recipes call for removing them after cooking. However, they are not poisonous, and they have antimicrobial properties and other health benefits. The reason they are removed is that the actual leaves have a bitter taste, and they don’t soften as they cook. This can cause a choking hazard when they are eaten. 

Are Bay Leaves Poisonous to People?

Bay leaves are not poisonous to people. They are used in recipes for soups, stews, and other dishes because they add flavor and fragrance. If you eat the leaves, they have a bitter taste, and they don’t soften as they cook. The edges remain hard and leathery, and they can be sharp. This can cause these leaves to get stuck in the throat or esophagus. 

Their texture makes them difficult to chew, so it is best to remove them before you serve the dish, or you can spit them out if you eat one by mistake. You can also use dried bay leaves because they can easily be crushed and sprinkled in your recipe. 

Are Bay Leaves Poisonous to Dogs?

Bay leaves are toxic to dogs. They contain essential oils that can cause your dog symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and other digestive problems. If your dog accidentally eats bay leaves, you will want to call your vet. 

Bay leaves are difficult for dogs to digest, and the edges are sharp and can cut them inside the throat or digestive tract. The essential oils in bay leaves are not good for dogs. One of the oils is Eucalyptol, and it is toxic to dogs. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, depression, and salivation. 

Bay leaves on plate
Yay Bay leaves on plate

Another ingredient in bay leaves is sesquiterpenes. Although terpenes are not toxic to dogs, sesquiterpenes are, and it can cause a lack of coordination and vomiting. Another chemical in bay leaves is eugenol, which is toxic to dogs. It is best to avoid giving bay leaves to your dog.

Are Bay Leaves Poisonous to Cats?

Bay leaves are poisonous to cats. It only takes small amounts of this plant to cause a toxic reaction in cats. Bay leaves cause digestive problems, and in larger doses, it can cause death. Within 30 minutes of eating bay leaves, cats will usually vomit. It might also have diarrhea, and there can be an obstruction in the digestive tract. They can cause damage to the digestive tract, and you will see blood in the stool. 

The main reason that bay leaves are toxic to cats is the eugenol and other essential oils in the plant. Eugenol is metabolized in the liver, and it can damage surrounding tissues and cause oxidizing agents to be released. It can lead to toxicity in the liver and result in death. It is important to take your cat to the vet right away if you suspect that it has eaten bay leaves. 

Are Bay Leaves Poisonous to Livestock?

Bay leaves are poisonous to livestock. They are poisonous to horses, to goats, to sheep, and to other livestock. All types of laurel are toxic to horses, and older horses or those with metabolic issues will be more susceptible to illness. Bay leaves can be fatal to horses, and horses show the following symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Cardiac failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Collapse
  • Death

If your horse eats bay leaves, it is an emergency and you need to call the vet right away. Goats can eat bay leaves, both fresh and dry, but they shouldn’t eat too much. They are toxic to sheep. 

Bay leaves are not poisonous to chickens. They are good to boost the immune system, and they have antioxidant and antiseptic properties. In addition, they repel insects. You can actually toss the bay leaves into the chicken coop, and if they want to eat them, they will. Meanwhile, the leaves will be a great deterrent for insects. You shouldn’t put them in the chicken food; leave them separate so that the chickens can choose if they want to eat them or not. 

Are Bay Leaves Poisonous to Deer?

Bay leaves are not poisonous to deer; however, they are considered a deer resistant plant. Wild animals have good instincts about what they can and can’t eat, and deer won’t eat bay leaves unless they have trouble finding other food. Deer will choose a lot of other plants before resorting to this one. Bay leaves don’t taste good, and deer choose plants they like to eat. 

Bay leaves can also be used as a deterrent for rats and mice. The smell of bay leaves attracts rats and mice, but they are extremely toxic to them. Once they eat them, they will die. Farmers often use them as a form of rodent control when they don’t want to use pesticides or toxic chemicals. 

Bay leaves are not toxic to rabbits, but wild rabbits are unlikely to consume large amounts of them. Domesticated rabbits can eat small amounts of dried leaves on occasion. 

Why Are Bay Leaves Toxic to Some Animals and Not to Others?

All animals are different, and their bodies react differently to different plants. Domesticated animals are more likely to eat foods that aren’t good for them than wild animals are. If you have dogs, cats, or horses, bay leaves are toxic to them and shouldn’t be fed or available. 

Bay leaves contain nutrients, but they also have essential oils. Essential oils are lethal to some animals but not to others. If you have bay leaves in your home or on your property, you need to make sure that dogs, cats, and horses are safe and can’t get into them.