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It’s no secret that diffusing essential oils have become all the rage in the past few years and for valid reasons!
Their healing power allows us to soothe away pain, relieve stress, boost our energies, get rid of negative emotions, balance our hormones, and get restful sleep.
Diffusing peppermint oils can even help you clear stuffy nose if you have a cold.
But is diffusing these essential oils safe for our canine friends?
Let’s begin with peppermint oil: just how safe is this essential for dogs?
First Things First…What Is Peppermint?
Peppermint is an aromatic, perennial herb in the mint family (Lamiaceae).
It is a hybrid between spearmint (M. spicata) and watermint (Mentha aquatica) and is cultivated mostly in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Because of its high menthol content, oil is often extracted from its leaves for use as flavorings in chewing gums, breath fresheners, toothpaste, mouthwash, ice cream, and tea.
The oil has a characteristic sharp odor that is cool and refreshing.
In humans, peppermint oil has been shown to ease muscle pain, itching, relieve headaches, and aid digestion.
Some studies have also shown that it is effective against certain types of bacteria due to its mild antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Is Peppermint Safe For Dogs?
When it comes to the safety of peppermint around dogs, it is important to differentiate between peppermint plant and peppermint essential oil.
Technically, peppermint plant (raw or dry herb) is not toxic to dogs. So, when your pup consumes it in moderation, there shouldn’t be any problem.
However, if consumed in large quantities, it can lead to unwanted health problems like upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Its liquid extract (or essential oil) is definitely toxic to dogs considering that it is a much higher concentration.
In other words, the oil has a higher amount of peppermint extract that cannot be tolerated by your dog’s body.
Ingestion of the essential oil will cause a sudden burden on the dog’s liver to metabolize complex chemicals, which lead to poisoning or even liver failure.
Peppermint essential oil toxicity may also cause tremors, difficulty in breathing, lethargy, weakness, and lack of coordination in dogs.
Peppermint essential oil is, therefore, a no-no for dogs with liver diseases or very young and senior dogs.
What About Dog Products Made Of Peppermint?
We all know that peppermint (raw form or its essential oil) is sometimes added to dog treats as flavorings or in dog dental chews to help with bad breath.
Should these also worry you? Are such treats safe for your pup?
The short answer is: most dog products formulated with peppermint are safe for most dogs. If anything:
- Pet food manufacturing companies only use small amounts of diluted peppermint in their products. In moderation or when diluted, peppermint isn’t bad for dogs.
- Pet food companies are often regulated to ensure that manufacture foods that are safe for pets
But always remember that your dog is different, so before you give him a product that contains peppermint, be sure to talk with your vet and follow the usage instructions given.
Most importantly, don’t give him more than the recommended amount.
Is Diffusing Peppermint Oil Safe for Dogs?
People love the refreshing smell of peppermint. Some people say that it reminds them of merry Christmases and the coolness of freshly brushed teeth.
However, our dogs don’t share our sense of smell. They have much more powerful scents.
For instance, a dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be 1000-10,000 more sensitive than humans’.
This means that by the time you are content with the freshening smell of peppermint from your diffuser, it may be overwhelming for your pup.
Peppermint oil from your diffuser can still be harmful to your dog considering that diffusers use water vapor to diffuse tiny droplets of the oil into the air.
If you diffuse the oil for long or if you are diffusing it in a confined space, your dog is likely to inhale a significant amount of the oil droplets, which may cause aspiration pneumonia and other toxic effects.
Besides, the chemicals in essential oils (such as functionalized derivatives of alcohols, ketones, phenols, esters, etc) often get absorbed fast into your dog’s system—irrespective of the method of entry—and get metabolized in the liver.
As aforementioned, diffusing peppermint oil could, therefore, be problematic to puppies, elderly dogs, and those with liver conditions.
In addition, diffused peppermint droplets can cause mucus membrane and skin irritation in dogs.
If you always diffuse peppermint oil around your dog and suddenly notice symptoms like drooling, loss of appetite, and lethargy, your four-legged friend could be experiencing a bad reaction to the essential oil and needs to be taken to a vet.
How to Diffuse Peppermint Oil Safely Around Your Dog
You can still diffuse peppermint oil in your home if you have a dog but you need to be cautious to minimize your dog’s exposure to the diffused oil droplets:
- When using diffusers around our homes, most people simply drop the oil in the diffusers and go about their businesses. However, when you have a dog, be prepared to do things differently. Only run the diffuser for a short time—about 10 minutes then allow fresh air to circulate for about half an hour. In other words, it is not recommended to leave a running diffuser and your pup unattended.
- To prevent your dog from swallowing the peppermint oil droplets, ensure that you put your diffuser in a place where it cannot be knocked over and lapped up.
- Whenever you are diffusing the oil, ensure that your house is well ventilated and that there are clear exit points that your dog can use to get out of the room if he is overwhelmed by the smell.
- Operate the diffuser away from your dog’s bed or where he relaxes. If your dog’s bed is on the east wall of your sitting room, for instance, consider operating the diffuser on the west wall.
- Stop diffusing the oil immediately if your notice your dog sneezing, coughing, or showing any sign of discomfort.
- Completely avoid diffusing peppermint oil in the house when your dog has breathing problems.
- You may also reconsider diffusing the essential oil in your home if you have other pets like birds and kittens. Kittens are curious and may accidentally knock the diffuser over, causing the contents to spill. Like dogs, peppermint oil can be toxic to cats even if they ingest smaller quantities. On the other hand, birds have sensitive respiratory tracts, which may be negatively impacted by inhaled oil droplets.
How do I know if my dog has been poisoned by peppermint oil droplets?
How do you know if your pup has been exposed to toxic levels of peppermint oil?
First of all, you shouldn’t be worried if you only allowed your diffuser to run for a short time. There are higher chances that your furbaby will just be okay.
At worst, he may sneeze, cough, or vomit to clear his system of any harm.
However, if you left your diffuser running for long in an enclosed space, you may have poisoned your dog.
In that case, closely monitor your dog for the following symptoms:
- Excessive drooling
- Muscle tremors
- Difficulty walking
If you notice any of these symptoms, rush your dog off to an emergency vet. Before you head to an emergency vet, here are a few things you may consider doing:
- Immediately take your dog into fresh air if you left the diffuser running in an enclosed space without proper ventilation.
- If there are droplets in your dog’s skin or fur, wash it off with a shampoo bar or appropriate dog-friendly soap.
- Don’t be tempted to induce vomiting or give your dog activated charcoal as you may put him at more risk. For instance, the peppermint oil might stick to his lungs or airways, causing airway obstruction or lung inflammation.
- Put the peppermint oil you were diffusing on a sealed bag and take it with you to the vet.
While diffusing peppermint oil has many healing and relaxing benefits, it may not be safe for your dog.
Hopefully, you now understand the risk of diffusing this essential oil around your dog and will take the necessary precautions to ensure that your pup remains safe.
Most importantly, always consult your vet before diffusing peppermint oil around your dog for the first time or if you notice any abnormal symptoms while using a diffuser in your home.