Recently, the trend of using essential oils for anything and everything is steadily picking up pace. It is also spreading out to include using essential oils to treat our pets. Unfortunately, despite the advice you see in various online forums, many oils can be very toxic to our four-legged friends. We have been receiving many queries including, “is peppermint essential oil safe for dogs?” and “is peppermint oil bad for dogs?”, so today we’ve decided to create a post to specifically answer those questions!
Is Peppermint Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
No. Peppermint oil is not safe for dogs, or other pets for that matter. If your dog were to come into contact with peppermint oil, his symptoms could vary from non-existent (depending on the amount), to life-threatening. Minor symptoms can include discomfort, irritation, and skin reactions. More serious symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, and even liver failure. There have been many stories in the news lately about pets getting seriously ill and their owners discovering it was from the diffusion or use of essential oils. As it turns out, peppermint in herb form is also toxic to pets. If you grow peppermint in your garden or around your house, the ASPCA recommends making sure that it is kept away from pets that might have a penchant for eating things they shouldn’t.
What About Flea Treatments? Is Peppermint Oil Bad for Dogs if it is in a Flea Spray?
Is peppermint essential oil safe for dogs if using it for fleas? No. The truth is, peppermint oil does work to repel insects and critters like wasps, spiders, mice, and rats. This is because essential oils are heavily concentrated, with very potent odors. Similar to these creatures, your pet will find the smell of peppermint overpowering to their senses. Additionally, applying oils to your pet will likely cause them to lick, trying to rid their fur of the scent. They can ingest the oils this way, causing them to get much sicker much faster. It is also unlikely the peppermint flea spray will actually kill the fleas. Instead, the irritation will likely cause your pet to scratch more, potentially breaking the skin and opening them up to other infections. While there are flea treatments on the market that contain a certain dilution of peppermint oil, it is likely the other ingredients that are actually killing the fleas. If you wish to use these, we advise consulting with a vet to learn which products are safe, and how to appropriately use them.
What if My Pet Comes in Contact with Peppermint Oil?
The difficult thing when it comes to pets and peppermint oil is that the symptoms can drastically vary, and be very vague. If you believe it’s possible that your pet has come into contact with oils, and is showing symptoms such as weakness, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, or other serious signs of illness, we recommend taking them to the vet immediately. Once there, the vet will want to know what your pet got into and how much. They will likely do bloodwork to test the function of your pet’s internal organs, and whichever other tests they deem necessary. Cats especially are sensitive to a component in many essential oils, called phenols. Their metabolism can’t break them down the same way a human can, leaving them very susceptible to liver failure.
Is Peppermint Essential Oil Safe for Dogs if I Diffuse It?
No. Unfortunately, diffusers are the cause of many animals getting sick. There are various reasons for this. When you diffuse, it sends tiny droplets of oils into the air. One of the issues is respiratory, as your pet can breathe these oils in. It is also very easy for a spill to occur, as curious pets, especially cats, can knock over the diffuser and lick up the contents. Additionally, the same droplets in the air can coat your pet’s fur, and your pet can ingest them while grooming. Even if you are lucky enough to be using a non-toxic oil and none of these things occur, it is best to use diffusers away from pets, in a safe space.
Unfortunately, while peppermint oil may contain many benefits for the two-leggeds, it is toxic for our four-legged friends. To keep your pet safe, avoid the use of peppermint essential oil when around them. This includes topical use (even for fleas, sorry!), and diffusing, as your pet can still come into contact this way. If you are ever unsure, always seek care from your local veterinarian who can guide you on safe and loving practices for your dog or cat. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch!