The use of herbs and plants in witchcraft is very common and quite popular.
Herbs and plants are usually used in magick such as dressing candles, making oils and charm (gris gris or mojo) bags, spell jars or even placed around a home or office such as hanging or sprinkling the herbs around.
However, some common herbs and plants used in spells and magick can be toxic to cats and dogs which means caution should be made when using and storing herbs and plants around pets and animals.
Extra caution needs to be made when working with certain herbs and plants that may be toxic to animals.
Some herbs and plants are extremely toxic and should only be worked if well researched.
These following commonly known herbs and plants aren’t for the novice or even intermediate and require extreme caution which should never be in reach of children or pets:
To learn more about toxic and poisonous herbs and plants used in pharmacology and magickal purposes (recommended here for educational purposes), check out the Bane Folk for articles and book recommendations.
Now to focus on being safe around pets with commonly found herbs and plants in witchcraft.
Magickal Herbs & Plants Toxic to Cats & Dogs
Here are a few common herbs, spices and plants used often in spells and magick that are toxic to cats and dogs:
• Pennyroyal (English mint)
• Bay Laurel
Garlic is known to be toxic to dogs and any human foods with garlic or garlic powder shouldn’t be fed to dogs or cats.
Garlic is among the plants like onions and leeks that dogs and cats should not eat as these specific kinds can cause low red blood cell counts and cause anemia.
Some dogs or cats can sneakily steal a fried onion ring from a dinner plate and have no side effects, while other pets may soon after feel sick afterwards.
However, it’s best to keep all garlic including onions, onion powder and leeks away from pets.
Garlic is known for its banishing and protective properties and is best kept out of pet’s reach
Nutmeg is an excellent spice to attract money and prosperity having the similar magickal properties as cinnamon.
Nutmeg can be found in its solid form or grounded and can be added to food for kitchen magick or to dress candles and sachets/charm bags.
This spice can cause severe stomach upset and can agitate the nervous system, even causing death and has a component that’s also found in mace.
Cinnamon should also be avoided and kept away from pets.
Pennyroyal (English mint)
There are 17 different varieties of mint. In small doses, mint can be beneficial for dogs and can be found in some dog treats that combat bad doggy breath.
However, one particular type of mint should be avoided: pennyroyal.
Pennyroyal (also known as English mint) is known for its effects as a diuretic and can be toxic to dogs and cats causing them an upset stomach and other problems.
While pennyroyal may not be a very common herb to use in magick or spells, it can have magickal properties such as healing and associated with Hekate and the planet Venus.
As always when working with herbs connected with a dark goddess, caution should be used as most have potential hazards.
Chamomile is often used in healing spells and in homeopathic treatments. It’s also a popular herb used for tea.
This herb is known for its calming effect and treating upset stomach. Some sources state that small amounts of chamomile are safe for dogs, however large amounts may cause gastrointestinal problems or could be fatal.
Caution should be made if chamomile is at home and store safely out of the reach of pets.
Dogs don’t know when to stop eating, so any amount of herbs would be quickly eaten it within reach.
If recommended by a holistic veterinarian to use chamomile, be sure to follow directions and guidelines precisely and monitor for any adverse effects.
Be sure to contact your primary veterinarian before administering any herbal supplements to your pets diet.
An easy and quick spell to grant wishes is to write a wish on a bay leaf and burn the leaf.
Bay laurel can be ground up in a mortar and pestle to use in spell bags or dressing candles.
Bay laurel is toxic to dogs and cats so should be kept out of pets’ reach.
According to the ASPCA, yarrow is toxic to cats, dogs and horses. Although yarrow is considered a healing plant/herb, it can cause increased urination, vomiting, diarrhea and dermatitis.
Some online sources state that this only occurs if large quantities of yarrow are consumed, but it’s best to err on the side of caution unless properly skilled or trained as in herbalism or homeopathy for animals.
Lemongrass is commonly found in certain magickal oils such as Van Van oil.
Lemongrass can cause stomach upset for dogs and cats and can be harmful in its essential oil form.
However, some natural treatments recommend lemongrass to prevent fleas.
But, if your pet is prone to licking herself or other pets, it may be better to avoid using lemongrass as a precaution.
Some cats apparently like the smell of lemongrass so best to keep the plant out of reach including oils that contain it.
Although the live form of lemongrass isn’t too harmful, lemongrass essential oil is harmful as cats don’t have a specific liver enzyme (glucuronyl transferase) to break down most essential oils.
Dogs are known to eat grass from time to time (including live/fresh wild lemongrass) but caution should be made to avoid too much consumption of any grass.
Tobacco is often used as an offering to spirits, deities and ancestors.
Some magickal practitioners and witches will leave offerings of tobacco, cigarettes or cigars on their altars; sometimes the tobacco is lit or unlit.
As with any offerings left on altars within reach of pets, caution is needed. Herbal items are tempting to many cats and dogs.
If leaving a tobacco offering and there’s concern that a pet may he able to reach it, there are ways to help avoid this.
An offering box can be made to keep the offering inside.
This can be a wooden box (decorated or not) to place the (unlit) offering.
Another option is to place the offering on a shelf near the altar out of reach of the pet.
Marjoram is a common kitchen herb that’s aromatic, but can be mildly to severely toxic to dogs.
Signs of toxicity from marjoram in dogs include decrease heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting and low blood sugar.
Marjoram is found in magickal spells and workings as a herb for love and protection.
Best to keep our fur babies protected as well and keep marjoram away from them.
The yew tree and yew needles are very poisonous and toxic to cats and dogs.
Because the needles are grass-like in shape, unfortunately, many animals are drawn to chewing them.
The Yew tree is associated with the underworld and is a funerary tree.
This plant and its needles should be kept away from all pets at all times.
Death is almost always imminent within minutes to a couple of hours and immediate veterinarian medical attention is needed if ingested.
Yew is also poisonous to humans, including the bark.
Mistletoe is common during the Yule and winter holidays, but is very toxic and poisonous.
In Norse mythology, the god Baldr (Baldur) was killed by a spear of mistletoe wielded by the trickster god Loki.
While mistletoe is mostly only found during the holiday season, it can be used for Yuletide magick and connecting or working with deities such as Baldr.
However, just like poinsettia (another poisonous winter holiday plant), mistletoe should be kept out of pets’ reach.
Safety Tips for Herb and Plant Magick around Cats & Dogs
It’s important to work safely with herbs and plants.
Dogs are often scavengers and most dogs will eat anything they find on the floor that looks or smells remotely interesting or tasty.
Dogs will explore their environment by sniffing or eating what they find on the floor or ground.
Cats may be more finicky with what they eat; however, most cats are accustomed to the tantalizing aroma of catnip and it can be too easy for a curious cat to experiment and eat something that may have the same look or texture as catnip.
Keeping herbs and plants used for magick safely stored out of reach can help prevent accidents.
Storing and Working with Herbs and Plants
Magickal herbs can be kept in jars or glass containers with a lid in a cupboard or on a shelf.
Herbs or plants in a plastic bag (e.g. Ziploc bag) can be easily chewed or torn up by a dog or cat. Be sure to label everything clearly.
Glass jars are ideally better, not just environmentally but also to avoid a pet from chewing on a plastic container.
Some dogs are powerful chewers and some enjoy the taste and feel of plastic.
Sturdy glass jars (such as sealed hermetic jars) can help prevent a cat or dog accessing the herbs or plant.
To prevent accidents while working with herbs and plants for a spell that maybe toxic to cats or dogs, it’s best to keep the pet away from the preparation area.
A cleared, flat surface such as a table is ideal and using a large plate or tray while dressing a candle or making a charm bag can work to catch any herbs or plants that fall onto the table area.
Any excess herbs that fall onto the tray or plate can be collected and saved or discarded.
Contact Information for Animal Poison Control
If there’s concern that your pet has ingested any toxic or poisonous herbs or if your pet is showing symptoms of toxicity or poisoning, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
Find the phone number for your local 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital (if there is one in your city or town) and keep the number in a visible place such as your refrigerator or bulletin board.
For more information about other toxic herbs and plants to cats and dogs (plants and herbs that are often found outdoors), be sure to check out this list by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Working magick and spells with herbs and plants can be rewarding, but also making sure a witch’s pets and familiars are safe is just as important.
Please Note: This article is not inclusive of all known toxic or poisonous herbs, plants or spices that may affect cats, dogs or other animals.
When working with herbs, plants or spices whether in herbalism or in magick, proper and thorough research is needed.
Are there any other herbs or plants that should be included as toxic to cats, dogs or other pets that are commonly used in witchcraft or magick?
Feel free to comment below any herbal, plants or spices that should be avoided with pets to help protect our fur babies and animal familiars.
Animals Familiars & Witchcraft
Images designed in Canva.