Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Dogs?

Key takeaway

Peppermint oil is toxic to dogs and can cause mild to severe symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and even lethargy. Peppermint oil poisoning can be fatal, especially if it’s not treated as soon as possible. If you believe your dog has consumed peppermint oil, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Peppermint oil is a popular essential oil people may use to relieve headaches, deter bugs, and keep their houses smelling fresh. They may also consider using it on their pets to prevent fleas. But, if you’re a pet parent, you might wonder, “Is peppermint oil safe for dogs?” The answer is no. Peppermint oil is toxic to dogs. It should never be ingested or used on their fur or skin. Peppermint oil poisoning can be life-threatening, especially if your dog consumes a large quantity. 

While peppermint in its natural form, as an herb, is also toxic to pets, this article will discuss peppermint and other essential oils for dogs. 

Should I Use Peppermint Oil For Flea Treatment?

Peppermint oil is effective at deterring insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and fleas. However, you should not use it as a flea treatment for your dog. Peppermint oil is concentrated, and the potent odors deter bugs and even rodents. Remember, your dog has a strong sense of smell, so peppermint oil could be too much for them, causing respiratory problems or making it difficult for them to breathe. 

Additionally, dogs learn through smelling and tasting. So when you put anything on your dog, they’ll likely try to lick it off, especially if they don’t like the way it smells or feels, ultimately ingesting the oils, which can cause them to get sick quickly. 

While peppermint oil may deter fleas and other insects, it’s not a guaranteed treatment. Peppermint oil can kill fleas, but using essential oil or a spray made of essential oil does not guarantee you’ll be able to get all the fleas. Instead, you might be irritating your dog’s respiratory system and skin, potentially causing a burning sensation that can lead to other skin infections. If you want to use natural remedies to treat or prevent flea infestations, talk to your vet before using essential oils, including peppermint oil, on dogs. 

Are Essential Oils Safe For Dogs?

No essential oil is truly safe for pets because they are toxic when consumed in large quantities. However, some essential oils are safer for pets than others, but it all depends on how they’re used. For example, lavender is a relatively safe essential oil for dogs, especially when in a diffuser where the dog can’t get to it. 

Of course, you should never put any essential oils directly on your dog’s skin because they’re highly concentrated and can cause painful sores and even burns. Any pet products that contain essential oils are diluted, so they may be safe for your pet, but there’s no reason to risk their health and safety for products when there are safer alternatives. 

What essential oils are bad for dogs? Essential oils toxic to dogs include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic
  • Juniper
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Ylang ylang1

Never, under any circumstances, should you use these on or around your dog because they’re toxic. While a diffuser is typically one of the safer ways to use essential oils around pets, avoid using those listed here to err on the side of caution. Of course, this is not a complete list of dangerous essential oils for pets. Always do your research and talk to a vet about essential oils before using them for your pet or around your home.

Even if an essential oil is unlikely to cause severe reactions in pets, it’s best to avoid using them directly on your pet to prevent skin irritation. Additionally, some pets may be more sensitive to essential oils than others, so the fragrance can be overpowering, making it difficult for them to breathe. 

Signs Of Essential Oil Poisoning In Pets

Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin and metabolized in the liver, so dogs with liver disease may be more sensitive to them. While exposure to any essential oils can cause mild GI issues like vomiting and diarrhea, some oils can be fatal, including tea tree oil, which affects the nervous system. Essential oil poisoning in pets occurs when the oil is absorbed by the skin or ingested by the pet. It can happen accidentally or when a pet parent unknowingly applies it to the skin. Symptoms of essential oil poisoning include:

If you can smell it on them

Essential oils are strong scents, so you’ll most likely be able to smell them on your dog. If you’re worried your dog may have eaten or licked essential oils, smell their mouth. If your dog is vomiting, you may even be able to smell essential oils in their vomit. Since essential oils emit a strong odor, you may not be able to pinpoint where the oils are on your dog’s body. However, smelling it on your dog tells you that your dog accessed the oils in some way and requires immediate attention. 

Difficulty breathing or wheezing

Since essential oils produce such a strong odor, they can impact your dog’s ability to breathe. Consider the last time you walked by someone who had just spritzed perfume or cologne in the air; it was most likely difficult to breathe and may have even caused you to cough or wheeze. The same reaction can happen in dogs when odors are too strong. 

Dogs may also wheeze or have difficulty breathing after ingesting essential oils because they can affect the respiratory and nervous systems, causing extreme distress and discomfort in dogs. Dogs with breathing conditions like asthma should never be around essential oils. Additionally, dogs prone to respiratory issues, including those with short snouts, should avoid the use of essential oils that can make breathing difficult. 

Vomiting

Dogs often vomit after consuming toxic foods and other common dog poisons, including chocolate or wild mushrooms, as their body’s natural way to expel the toxins. However, some dogs may not vomit after consuming something toxic. Therefore, if you suspect your dog has consumed essential oils, they should be taken to the vet immediately, where they can induce vomiting to help the dog’s body remove the potentially dangerous toxins. 

Dogs may also experience diarrhea and vomiting or one or the other, depending on their body’s natural response to the essential oils. Since essential oils are oils, they can cause loose stool in dogs. Dogs experiencing vomiting and diarrhea should have plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If your dog does not stop vomiting or having diarrhea within a few hours or they continue to vomit and can’t get comfortable, they should be taken to the nearest emergency vet clinic as soon as possible. 

Drooling

Dogs that have ingested toxic substances may develop increased saliva production, causing them to drool. Drooling may also accompany foaming at the mouth, which indicates a medical emergency, so you should take them to the vet immediately. 

Lethargy

Dogs may become lethargic after consuming essential oils because they don’t feel well. Dog’s bodies function similarly to ours, so they may try to sleep more to help their bodies heal. Additionally, dogs experiencing vomiting and diarrhea are more likely to sleep as their body tries to recover from the discomfort. Lethargy can be a mild or severe sign of poison ingestion. If your dog is trembling or they’ve become weak and are sleeping more often, take them to the vet for examination and treatment. 

Redness around the face

Essential oils cause skin irritation, especially if they haven’t been properly diluted. Since poisoning often occurs when a dog licks or consumes essential oils, their lips and face may become irritated anywhere the oils have touched. Additionally, some dogs may experience allergic reactions to essential oils, which can cause a red and swollen face.2 

Some essential oils can have a fatal reaction in pets, so if you smell essential oils on your pet, whether on their fur or breath, they should be taken to an emergency vet as soon as possible. 

What To Do If You Think Your Pet Has Ingested Peppermint Oil

Potentially any essential oils can be dangerous to your pet and their overall wellness. If you believe your dog has ingested peppermint oil, take them to the emergency vet as soon as possible.2 You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Poison Control. Of course, peppermint oil can be much more harmful to dogs than other types of essential oils, so you might not want to wait for a phone call. Instead, it’s important to act fast and get your dog to the emergency vet as soon as possible for examination and treatment. 

Never try to induce vomiting on your own, as this could make matters worse. Instead, ensure your dog gets treatment by a licensed veterinarian. Once your dog is at the vet, they will ask questions about the essential oils and your dog’s symptoms while examining them before deciding on a course of treatment. Like with any type of poisoning, your vet will find a way to remove the toxins from their body and determine if your dog’s liver or kidneys have been impacted. 

Treatment will most likely consist of IV fluids to keep your dog hydrated and help their bodies expel the toxins. Depending on their condition, they may also have a feeding tube or require treatment for chemical burns. In mild cases, vets may opt to induce vomiting and give the dog medication to protect their liver. 

Since some essential oils are more toxic, including peppermint oil, recovery will depend on the type of oil consumed and how much. Of course, even with treatment, essential oil poisoning can be fatal. 

Pet parents should protect their pets to prevent essential oil ingestion and poisoning by keeping all essential oils away from dogs and not using them around or on their pets. Since dogs are curious animals, they may lick, sniff, or try to eat bottles of essential oils, causing mild to severe symptoms. If you want to try using essential oils as a form of treatment for your pet, consult a vet first. 

Final Notes

Just because essential oils are natural doesn’t mean they’re healthy for dogs. Essential oils like peppermint oil can be harmful to dogs. If your dog consumes essential oils, they should be examined by a vet as soon as possible, even if they’re not exhibiting any symptoms. 

While essential oils may provide some benefits, they could also cause more harm than good when used improperly. Always consult a vet first, no matter what you’re trying to treat with essential oils, whether it’s fleas or anxiety. Dutch can help you find the right treatment for your pet to ensure their safety. There’s no reason to put your dog in harm’s way. 

References

  1. “The Many Perks of Essential Oils for Dogs.” Veterinarians.org, 19 Aug. 2022, https://www.veterinarians.org/essential-oils-for-dogs/.

  2. “Which Essential Oils Are Toxic for Pets?: Michelson Found Animals.” Michelson Found Animals Foundation, https://www.foundanimals.org/essential-oils-toxic-pets/.