Keeping our furry friends safe requires a constant watchful eye on not only the things we feed them but the things we keep around our house and growing in our yards. Eucalyptus is widely used as an essential oil and in cold and cough remedies, but is eucalyptus safe for dogs? According to several sources, eucalyptus is not safe for dogs. We discuss this further below.
What is Eucalyptus?
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) belongs to the Myrtaceae family and is a genus of trees with over 700 species. Most commonly, eucalyptus plants are shrubs or evergreen trees that can grow up to 15 feet per year, reaching 60 feet at their highest point. Native to Australia, eucalyptus leaves are covered in oil glands, mostly made of eucalyptol, also known as cineole. This is the oil extracted and used as an essential oil and in various eucalyptus products.
What is Eucalyptus Used for?
Eucalyptus has several uses. It can be found in many over-the-counter cough and cold products as a congestion reliever. Eucalyptus oil can be found in creams and ointments for its muscle relief properties and to help resolve joint pain. It can even be found in some mouthwashes for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Eucalyptus leaves can also be used in air fresheners, medicinal tees, perfumes, cleaners, pesticides, and various beauty and skincare products. It’s also a very widely used essential oil in diffusers. Whether treating allergies or athlete’s foot, eucalyptus has proved beneficial.
Can Dogs Eat Eucalyptus?
Although few studies have been done on the toxicity of eucalyptus in dogs, according to the ASPCA, eucalyptus is highly toxic to dogs. This is due to the eucalyptol oil — a neurotoxin that may cause liver or kidney damage in canines. Dogs should not eat any part of the eucalyptus tree or shrub, including the leaves and the bark. Keep these plants out of reach if you decide to plant them inside or outside your home.
Is Eucalyptus Essential Oil Toxic to Dogs?
Eucalyptus essential oil is also toxic to dogs. Steer clear of using any in your home, whether in a diffuser or rubbed on your dog’s skin. The oils may also cause contact dermatitis on the skin, and the diffused oils may cause adverse effects if your dog breathes it in or ends up ingesting it somehow. It’s important to note that the ingestion of eucalyptus oil is also highly toxic for humans and can lead to severe symptoms, as well.
Eucalyptus Poisoning Symptoms
Symptoms of eucalyptus poisoning may sometimes be delayed for a few hours after your dog ingests the plant or oil. Signs that your pet may have eucalyptus poisoning include:
- Salivation and excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Depression and confusion
- Dilated eyes and pinpoint pupils
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Rapid or weakened heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Weakness and lethargy
- Slowed reflexes
- Difficulty swallowing
Treating Eucalyptus Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog eats the eucalyptus plant or any products containing eucalyptus, immediately consult your veterinarian and describe what they’ve eaten. As previously mentioned, eucalyptol, the chemical in eucalyptus, is a gastrointestinal irritant and a neurotoxin. Due to the nature of the oil, it is not recommended to induce vomiting if you believe your dog has ingested eucalyptus.
Instead, your veterinary hospital may use activated charcoal to soak up any of the toxins that remain in your dog’s system. Your veterinarian may also give your pet IV fluids, sugars, and electrolytes to adjust imbalances and help with any dehydration that may be occurring.
It’s crucial to remember that if your pet exhibits any of the signs above of eucalyptus poisoning, you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Other Plants That Contain Eucalyptol
Eucalyptus isn’t the only plant you need to be concerned about for your pup. Several other plants and herbs contain eucalyptol oil. While most of these plants contain much less eucalyptol oil than eucalyptus, a few, such as wormwood, mugwort, and laurel plants, can cause the same symptoms in dogs as eucalyptus can.
- Bay leaves
- Cherry laurel
- Camphor laurel
- Tea tree
- Cannabis sativa (strain specific)
- Sweet basil
- Common sage
Using Essential Oils in Your Home
While many people enjoy using essential oils in their homes for their calming scents, mood-enhancing abilities, and help with various health conditions, most essential oils are toxic to dogs. The only essential oils deemed safe and non-toxic to canines are frankincense, chamomile, lavender oil, and ginger. Keep this in mind the next time you decide to diffuse or burn any essential oil in your home. Always choose oils that are absolutely safe for your furry friends.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Marina Denisenko
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