Toxic Essential Oils for Dogs
Essential oils are a hit. The global demand for essential oils exceeded 247 kilotons in 2020. In the last decade, the production of tea tree oils in Australia has more than tripled. But did you know that some could be toxic to your furry buddy?
We don’t want to scare you. We want to give you crucial information on essential oils and dogs to help you avoid unforeseen emergencies for your pet. But first, here’s more about essential oils.
What are essential oils?
Obviously, we’re not talking about the good essential oils and vitamins found in fish for dogs.
Essential oils are volatile, organic compounds found in plants. They give plants a distinctive fragrance and taste. Whenever you smell flowers or eucalyptus trees, that distinct scent is due to essential oil.
They are volatile because they move from solid or liquid with ease. When the oils come into contact with us, either through smelling or tasting, they dissolve into our system and affect the entire body. This is what makes aromatherapy or any other essential oil treatment possible.
Unfortunately, essential oils can be harmful to dogs. Whether you apply it on the dog’s skin or release the oil using a diffuser, essential oils can be toxic. Read on and find out the top toxic oils for dogs and what makes them lethal.
Toxic essential oils for dogs
Tea tree oil or Melaleuca oil
It is by far the most popular Australian essential oil. It has several medicinal properties and is safe for children. In the last decade, demand for Australian Tea Tree oil nearly trebled, and the prices doubled.
But, tea tree oil is also the leading toxicity offender for dogs. Many well-meaning dog owners try to apply concentrated portions to treat their dog’s skin conditions. Thevets.com explain, “though products containing low concentrations of tea tree oil may not harm your dog, using pure tea tree oil directly on their skin can lead to serious issues such as ataxia or even coma.
Tea tree oil is so toxic to dogs experts say that ingesting 20mls could be fatal.
Eucalyptus oil is well-known for aromatherapy and is a popular relaxant. The oil comes from the Australian-native tree – Eucalyptus globulus. Whether Eucalyptus oils are toxic to dogs is still a debate. But some authorities have drawn the lines and categorized it as harmful. Other pet welfare organizations take it a notch higher and term Eucalyptus oil as “very poisonous to dogs.”
What would happen to your dog if it consumes eucalyptus oil? Again, the symptoms and severity will vary with the concentration levels and amount taken in. When ingested, even small amounts can result in gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, vomiting, depression, and seizures.
Whether applied topically or in oil diffusers, Eucalyptus oil irritates dogs, and you should avoid it.
Pine oils extracted from the Scots pine naturally repel insects. Many people love them for spring cleaning. But they also have therapeutic uses. They are popular ingredients in massage oils, known for decreasing swelling, tenderness and pain in sore joints and relaxing muscles.
However, on dogs, pine oils may have a catastrophic outcome. Topical applications may seem safe. But if the dog licks the essential oil, as it is likely to, they will be intoxicated.
Depending on the amount ingested, the dog could have gut irritation, bloody vomit, ataxia, drooling, and general weakness due to the oil’s effect on the nervous system. Ingesting pine oil can also result in kidney and liver ailments.
Oil of Wintergreen
Extracted from the Eastern Teaberry, the oil of wintergreen contains methyl salicylates or aspirin. Humans love the natural treatment for pain and headaches and may sometimes be applied topically to relieve aching muscles. However, for dogs, the story is different.
Depending on the concentration ingested, a dog can show signs like severe vomiting and weakness. The active ingredients in the oil of wintergreen cause ulcers in the dog’s gut and can further cause renal and liver failure.
Many people love peppermint oil. It comes from the peppermint plant, and the main ingredients are menthol and menthone. The aroma from these ingredients makes it perfect for treating coughs and colds, reducing pain, improving mental function, and reducing stress. But the oil is toxic for dogs. It causes skin irritation and breathing problems. Ingesting some could lead to gastrointestinal challenges, and your dog will be weak and lethargic.
A final word on toxic essential oils for dogs
Many other essential oils considered beneficial to humans are toxic to dogs. Although some pet owners can claim their effectiveness in managing one situation or another, there is insufficient scientific evidence. Right now, the risks outweigh the benefits. If you must use essential oils, work closely with a reputable vet to guide you on safe usage. If your pet accidentally takes in toxic essential oils, reach out to the animal poison helpline for help.