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For several years, essential oils have been a popular home remedy for a wide range of maladies, including skin conditions, nasal congestion, sore muscles, and anxiety among others.
But did you know that the use of some types of essential oils is dangerous to pets?
That’s right: that your favorite holistic remedy may be toxic to your dog!
We’ve put together a guide on one of the most common essential oils—thieves oil—so that you can keep your canine companion happy and healthy.
What is Thieves Oil?
Technically, thieves oil is a blend of multiple oils, including clove, rosemary, lemon, cinnamon, and Eucalyptus Radiata.
The blend is inspired by a long-told historic tale about 1413 French grave robbers who formulated the essential oil to protect themselves from the Bubonic Plague (or the Black Death).
It is spicy and earthy (smells like fresh-cooked cookies) and has potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties.
The most common commercially available thieves essential oil products are:
Is Thieves Oil Safe For Dogs?
According to Coralville Animal Hospital and VCA Hospitals, essential oils such as pine, cinnamon, tea tree, pennyroyal, clove, peppermint, wintergreen, sweet birch, Citrus (d-limonene), thyme, eucalyptus oil, anise, yarrow, ylang-ylang, and juniper among others are toxic to dogs.
And since the main oils that make up thieves oil blend (clove, rosemary, lemon, cinnamon, and eucalyptus Radiata) are included in the above list, it is easy to see why you shouldn’t give or apply thieves oil on your dog.
So, the short answer to the above question is: thieves oil isn’t safe for dogs. Its constituent oils are toxic to dogs whether ingested or applied on the skin.
Talking of topical application, both clove oil and cinnamon (ingredients in thieves oil) are known to be potential skin irritants. Applying thieves oil to your dog’s skin, therefore, may cause itching, swelling, redness, and many other weird skin reaction symptoms.
Lemon oil can also cause photosensitivity. Accordingly, using thieves oil on a photosensitive dog can cause burning and pigmentation changes.
Overall, if you plan to use thieves oil on your dog, we recommend one easy way of doing it safely: talk to your local veterinarian. He will let you know the right type of essential oils to use on your dog and take you through some of the safest ways of using them around your pets.
Is Thieves Oil Safe To Diffuse Around Dogs?
Diffusing any type of essential oil may be dangerous to dogs and should be done with caution. This is because dogs are anatomically and physiologically different from human beings.
Their metabolism and mechanism of eliminating undesirable substances from their bodies are very different as well.
When you actively diffuse essential oils around your dog, he is likely to inhale tiny little oil droplets, which goes to his lungs.
The effects of these tiny droplets are similar to the effects of secondhand smoke in dogs.
The droplets also hang out in your dog’s fatty tissues like the brain and may cause a wide range of health conditions.
Besides, dogs have over 220 million smell receptors compared to human beings who have about 5 million receptors. This means that by the time you are content with the level of scent from your diffuser, your canine companion may be over it.
So, if you are not careful, you may be causing your dog to experience allergies, skin irritations, and other unwanted body reactions while you are diffusing essential oils around him.
Put simply, dogs require lower exposure to essential oils because of their differing anatomy makeup.
Diffusing any kind of essential oil, therefore, could be harmful to your dog, depending on how much he is exposed to and type.
So, can you diffuse thieves around dogs? The short answer is NO. Diffusing essential oils that aren’t safe to dogs like thieves oil and other variants that we have listed above can cause even more detrimental health effects on dogs.
The most common symptoms of dogs that have been exposed to high levels of diffused essential oils are vomiting, sneezing, and coughing.
Diffusing essential oils can even be fatal to dogs with asthma and other respiratory problems.
Precautions to Take When Diffusing Essential Oils around Dogs
You can still have and use a diffuser in your home but you need to take the necessary precautions to minimize your dog’s exposure to these oils:
- When diffusing, ensure that your home or room is well ventilated and that your dog can exit the room if they want to.
- Discontinue diffusing the oils if your dog shows any discomfort or adverse reactions.
- Given that pets are more sensitive oils than humans, consider heavily diluting any essential oil that you plan to diffuse around your home. If you own a small-sized dog, 9:1 ratio of carrier oil to essential oil is recommended. For medium sized dogs and larger dog breeds, a ratio of 4:1 and 3:1 are recommended respectively.
- Operate your diffuser away from areas where your pet relaxes, plays, eat or sleeps. And after using the diffuser, keep it in a tall shelf, kitchen counter or in a place where your dog cannot knock it over and potentially expose himself to the oils.
- Your dog may stay with you in a room even if something is bothering him. So, when diffusing essential oil around him, closely watch for any signs of discomfort like sniffing, whining, nervousness, or excessive scratching.
- If your dog is nursing, pregnant, on medication or has an ongoing medical condition, speak to your vet before using or diffusing any kind of essential oil in their environment.
- Never leave a running essential oil diffuser and your dog unattended. Only diffuse oils when you or another responsible family member is present.
What to Do If Your Dog Is Exposed To Thieves Oil
If you are worried that your pup has been exposed to thieves oil (or any other essential oil for that matter), monitor him for symptoms. If he starts having negative reactions, take him to a nearby emergency pet clinic immediately.
Some of the most common symptoms of essential oil poisoning in dogs include:
- Vomiting and drooling
- Coughing or wheezing
- Watery eyes and nose
- Difficulty in breathing
- Tremors or lethargy
- Low body temperature
- Redness of gums, lips, and skin
- Low heart rate
Before rushing him to a nearby emergency clinic, consider doing the following:
- Take him to fresh air immediately, especially if you suspect that he inhaled the essential oil.
- Don’t be tempted to induce vomiting if he ingested the essential oil. Doing this will put him at risk because the essential oil may stick in his airway and lungs causing airway obstruction and lung inflammation.
- If the oil was applied topically, wash it immediately with appropriate doggy soap or hand washing soap.
- Consider packing and taking the essential oil to the emergency pet clinic. Vets may need it for further tests.
Is thieves oil safe for dogs? No. Its constituent oils (clove, rosemary, lemon, cinnamon, and eucalyptus Radiata) are straight up toxic to dogs—whether ingested, applied topically, or used in diffusers.
It is true that diffusing thieves oil and other essential oils may have medicinal or relaxing effects but you should understand that by the time you are enjoying the scent of these oils, they might be overpowering or nauseating your dog.
So, if you have to diffuse essential oils around your dog, be selective, cautious, and always consult your vet with any questions or concerns.
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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.