Pet owners who love to use essential oil diffusers may not know that their four-legged friend may be in danger of the toxic effects that different oils may have on them. Unfortunately for our canine friends, their sensitive noses won’t allow them to handle the strong scents of popular essential oils, and will be prone to adverse reactions when exposed. In this article, we answer the question, “Will peppermint oil hurt dogs” and discuss the possible effects of these essential oils on dogs.
What is Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint oil comes from the leaves of the peppermint plant, known as a herb and mint found throughout Europe and North America. Made for human use, it can provide relief from muscle pain, headaches, and itching, and may also aid digestion. Some studies have also found it has effective antifungal and antibacterial properties — much like many other common essential oils, many enjoy using it for diffusing or through topical application.
However, our pets won’t be able to reap the same benefits, and many of the pure essential oils we use in the diffusers in our homes are unsafe for dogs.
Will Peppermint Oil Hurt Dogs?
These aromatic oils aren’t safe for dogs; while humans can use them to treat colds and coughs, as well as reduce stress, there are significant risks for pets when peppermint oil is used. Apart from dogs, peppermint oil can also be toxic to other pets and small mammals. There have been documented cases of pets suffering as a result of diffusing peppermint oil around their home.
Dog owners that grow peppermint around their home or garden should err on the side of caution and keep these away from pets, especially those that love to chew on leaves. Furthermore, experts can’t be sure of the manageable levels of toxic essential oils for dogs, so you won’t be able to tell how much exposure can be fatal. Despite the dangers behind essential oil products, many OTC pet medications will have them, so be sure to read ingredient lists before making a purchase.
Peppermint Oil Health Benefits
Some pet owners will stand by this essential oil and claim that it serves as an effective alternative medicine for many health conditions in dogs. However, scientific research to support these claims is scarce, so it’s difficult to say how much exposure is safe or beneficial for our pets. According to proponents of this product, peppermint essential oils can be used as herbal remedies to do the following:
- Relieve pain – Some people, even holistic veterinarians, claim that peppermint oil works like a painkiller, along with its antifungal and antibacterial properties. But you should never use any kind of essential oil on wounds or cuts since it can cause chemical burns that will make the problem worse.
- Natural flea repellant – This is a popular claim by users who believe that a peppermint flea spray serves as a great flea treatment. However, there are no conclusive data to support this claim, and traditional flea medicine prescribed by your vet is much more effective and safer. These can save your dog from respiratory problems and won’t inflame its mucous membranes.
As dog lovers, we don’t believe that these benefits are a fair trade compared to the possible risks associated with this essential oil which are listed below. Even when used in small amounts, essential oil diffusers can cause significant damage to your dog’s health. Before purchasing pet products with this ingredient, make sure to consult your veterinarian to see how it should be used.
Risks of Using Peppermint Oil
Using peppermint oil on your dogs can have mild to adverse side effects; some minor symptoms of essential oil poisoning include skin irritation, discomfort, lethargy, and diarrhea. More serious signs of essential oil poisoning include respiratory issues, liver failure, allergic reactions, aspiration pneumonia, gastrointestinal upset (such as upset stomach and vomiting), and death.
Phenolic compounds found in plant substances may be the reason why peppermint oil is toxic to dogs; since a dog’s liver can’t process these, it builds up to toxic levels. Moreover, the high concentration of menthol in peppermint oil, as well as any part of the mint family may lead to various health problems in your dogs, and in some cases can be deadly.
Is Any Kind of Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Essential oils are plant extracts that have been derived from distillation and are highly concentrated. These natural products are usually found in home air fresheners and they can also be used for medicinal purposes. However, most essential oils will be toxic to your dogs, whether it’s applied topically, breathed through a diffuser, or ingested.
In the form of liquid potpourri, they can be used to provide a great scent around your home, which is non-toxic to humans. However, the same can’t be said for your pets, and can be extremely harmful; ingestion and exposure to your dog’s skin can be highly toxic. This can lead to problems such as difficulty breathing, damage to the nervous system, and skin conditions.
Here are a few essential oils toxic to pets that should be kept out of reach of your dog:
- Cinnamon oil
- Tea tree oil
- Sweet birch oil
- Citrus oils
- Pennyroyal oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Peppermint oil
- Lavender oil
If you absolutely need to use essential oils around your home, use caution if you have dogs with liver disease, young puppies, or senior dogs. These extremely potent substances can cause strain to these organs and may result in liver damage. Below are a few tips that you can use to ensure that your dogs are safe while using products that may contain essential oils.
- Always use carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil to help dilute the essential oil. This is the best way to use essential oils around your home, which can help lower the concentration of these oils.
- Use a diffuser carefully since your dog’s sense of smell will be much stronger than your own. There have been many cases of pets being rushed to the veterinary clinic as a result of respiratory distress after inhaling essential oils.
- Even personal care products that you use on yourself can have a negative effect on your dog. Your pooch can suffer from various side effects should it come into contact with peppermint oil around you, so take care with handling your dog after using essential oils.
- You should never directly apply essential oils to a dog or human skin; these are highly concentrated and will irritate the skin. While this may seem like a minor problem at first, this can quickly branch off to more complicated issues for you and your pet.
If you want to try using essential oils, the first thing you should do is talk to your vet. They will be able to choose high-quality products that can be easily diluted with carrier oils to lower their potency.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do if My Dog Ingests Large Quantities of Essential Oils?
Quickly take your dog to the closest pet emergency center or the vet, then immediately call the pet poison helpline. You can reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
What Should I Do if My Dog Smells Peppermint Oil?
Even in small quantities, breathing in diffused peppermint oil can cause breathlessness, wheezing, and coughing in your dog. It’s a good idea to give your pet fresh air to avoid more complications for your pup.
Peppermint essential oil can cause serious harm to dogs when inhaled or ingested, so its use around your pets should be limited. Even if you were to harmlessly set up a diffuser using your favorite essential oils to give a light and pleasant scent around your house, you must consider how it will affect your furbaby. Our dogs are an important part of the home, so we need to be mindful of the things that might bring them harm.