Essential oils, those components of plants that contribute to fragrance and taste, are popular items on the shelves of grocery stores and pharmacies. In people, they are often employed for aromatherapy, as well as applied topically or taken orally for a variety of health conditions and “benefits”.
People who use essential oils on a regular basis may be tempted to use them on their four-legged buddies. But this isnt a good idea, even if the product is labeled for use on pets. The main reason for this is that pets tend to lick off things you apply to their skin, and essential oils, when ingested by dogs and cats, are considered toxic.
Camphor is an aromatic oil derived from the wood of Cinnamomum camphora. It is also synthesized from turpentine. Camphor oil is used for aromatherapy as well as for treating respiratory diseases and joint pain. If applied to a pets skin (and unfortunately, it often is), it can cause severe irritation that, you guessed it, leads to licking and subsequent ingestion. And if eaten in great enough quantity, it can result in seizures, liver failure, and death.
Citrus oils, obtained from the fresh peels of ripe fruits, are used as flavoring agents. Citrus oil derivatives (D-limonene; linalool) are also used as insect repellents in people. You can find these derivatives in flea shampoos, dips, and sprays designed for dogs and cats as well. Many are marketed as safe alternatives to other flea control products. The problem is: They arent.
Cats, puppies, and older dogs are especially sensitive to citrus oil products, especially concentrated “dips”, which can cause seizures, coma, and death. As a result, they should be avoided.
Melaleuca is an essential oil that comes from the leaves of the Australian tea tree. In people, it is used for treating everything from skin infections to repelling insects. In pets, its been used as a topical flea repellent. Unfortunately, the active ingredients, called terpenoids, can be highly toxic, especially to cats. As to be expected, the more concentrated the product used, the worse the effects.
This oil is used commonly employed as a topical insect repellent and as an oral digestive tonic in humans. In pets, people sometimes use it as a topical flea treatment for their pets. But they usually regret it later, as pennyroyal oil can be nasty stuff if ingested, blowing out the liver and leading to vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, seizures, and death.
Used to treat muscle aches and pains; oil of wintergreen contains a glycoside that releases methylsalicylate, a derivative of aspirin. Some pet owners have been known to apply it over the arthritic joints of their pets. Hopefully you know by now that aspirin can be highly toxic to cats and in dogs, can cause stomach, liver, and/or kidney issues in those dogs already taking a non-steroid or steroid antiinflammatory medication. As a result, oil of wintergreen should not be used on pets at any time.
The content of this page is not veterinary advice. A number of factors (amount of substance ingested, size of the animal, allergies, etc.) determine what is toxic to a particular pet. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.
Camphor is commonly found in topical pain or arthritis body rubs. Examples of some common trade names containing camphor include Carmex, Tiger Balm, Vicks VapoRub, Campho-Phenique, etc. Camphor is readily absorbed across the skin, and should never be applied to dogs or cats due to risks for poisoning. Clinical signs of camphor poisoning in pets include local skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures (in large amounts), and even rarely, death (from respiratory depression or seizures).
If you think your dog or cat were exposed to camphor, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for treatment advice.
Can you put campho phenique on dogs?
Camphor is commonly found in topical pain or arthritis body rubs. Examples of some common trade names containing camphor include Carmex, Tiger Balm, Vicks VapoRub, Campho-Phenique, etc. Camphor is readily absorbed across the skin, and should never be applied to dogs or cats due to risks for poisoning.
Treatment of Camphor Topical Poisoning in Dogs
There is no antidote for camphor topical poisoning; measures are put in place to remove the substance from the body and to provide supportive care. A mild case will require a checkup to ensure no lasting damage has occurred and to provide medication if needed for mucus membrane or gastrointestinal irritation. In severe cases, hospitalization will be needed so the supportive care can begin.
Vomiting is not typically induced due to the high risk of aspiration of the camphor containing product. The veterinarian may perform gastric lavage to flush out the stomach contents but this will depend on the time of ingestion and the condition of your pet.
The administration of active charcoal is decided case by case depending on symptoms and the amount ingested.
Medication to control seizures will be given if needed.
Vital signs, respiration, and organ function (such as kidneys) will be constant as the veterinary team stabilizes your pet.
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What does camphor do to dogs?
What topical cream is safe for dogs?
Is topical menthol safe for dogs?
Is there a topical pain reliever for dogs?
If your dog has minor aches and pains, applying an all-natural topical ointment could help. The active ingredients (benzocaine and salicylic acid) are effective for treating skin issues, preventing infection and alleviating hot spots.