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Eucalyptus for Dogs: Is It Safe? Our Vet Answers

Written by: Dr. Marti Dudley DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on April 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

Eucalyptus essential oil and fresh eucalyptus leaves on the table

Eucalyptus for Dogs: Is It Safe? Our Vet Answers

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Dr. Marti Dudley Photo

WRITTEN BY

Dr. Marti Dudley

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The eucalyptus plant is commonly used in households for various reasons. People use the oil from the plant for aromatherapy and medicinal purposes and utilize the dried leaves for tea. Eucalyptus is appealing due to its reenergizing, calming, and antioxidant properties. Due to its benefits, you may be curious to know if canines can utilize eucalyptus too. Although popular, eucalyptus is considered toxic to dogs, and care should be taken when related products are used around pets.

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The Eucalyptus Plant

There are over 700 species of eucalyptus plants worldwide, though most originate in Australia.1 The size and shape of the eucalyptus plant varies, with some varieties being shrub-sized and others growing into large trees. Many parts of eucalyptus plants produce oil; however, the leaves are the most used source for oil extraction.

eucalyptus plant
Image Credit: photoPOU, Shutterstock

Oil of Eucalyptus Plants

Eucalyptus species produce eucalyptus oil, an essential oil. The main component of eucalyptus oil is eucalyptol, which is found in many different goods, ranging from mouthwash to beauty products.

Eucalyptol acts as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial agent and offers several other potential health benefits. When eucalyptus is carefully added to products, its benefits can be great for humans.2 However, it is important that the products be used as directed, and pure eucalyptus oil should be avoided. Even small amounts of eucalyptus oil can be harmful if consumed by people or pets.

Eucalyptus Leaves

The dried leaves of the eucalyptus tree can be used to make tea. It is important to note that eucalyptus oil should not be used for this purpose. Although the health benefits associated with the more concentrated eucalyptol oil are much higher than those of the leaves, antioxidant effects are still likely, making eucalyptus tea a common at-home cold remedy.

Eucalyptus leaves
Image Credit: LauraLisLT, Pixabay

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Eucalyptus Diffuser Use Around Dogs

At low concentrations, eucalyptus diffusers should present little risk for dogs.3 However, even a low concentration of eucalyptus oil in a diffuser may be noxious to their highly sensitive noses or be problematic for dogs with underlying respiratory concerns.

Additionally, diffusers aerosolize the oil, potentially allowing for the contamination of fur and inadvertent ingestion through grooming. In many cases, it may be best to avoid essential oil diffusers in households with pets.

Eucalyptus Use in Dogs

Some topical products designed for dogs may contain eucalyptus. It is important to use caution when using these products, as even topically applied eucalyptus may cause skin irritation and pose a risk of inadvertent ingestion. Eucalyptus may also be found in some insect repellants. Again, caution must be taken with the use of these products, as sensitivity may vary among dogs, and the concentration of eucalyptus may vary.

havanese resting in dog bed
Image By: Boryana Manzurova, Shutterstock

Dog Ingestion of Eucalyptus

The oil from the eucalyptus plant is toxic to people and animals if consumed in a pure form.4 It is important to note that even topical contact can be irritating if the product is not diluted. Additionally, if any part of the plant is ingested by dogs, signs of toxicity may be noted. If your pet has consumed any products containing eucalyptus or a eucalyptus plant, a veterinarian and pet poison control should be contacted.

Signs of Eucalyptus Toxicity in Dogs

Although considered toxic, ingestion of a small amount of leaves or a product containing small amounts of eucalyptol typically results in mild gastrointestinal signs. The signs of gastrointestinal illness include vomiting, nausea, hypersalivation, and diarrhea. Supportive therapy is likely all that will be needed if a small amount is ingested; however, your veterinarian should always be contacted. Consumption of concentrated eucalyptus oil can result in seizures and kidney damage and may require more treatment.

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog sick with vet
Image By: Zontica, Shutterstock

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What to Do in the Case of Ingestion/Exposure

If you believe your dog has ingested part of the eucalyptus plant or a product or byproduct, poison control should be called. You will be asked to provide as much information as possible regarding the plant or product consumed. Based on poison control’s database, recommendations will be made to closely observe your pet or to seek veterinary care.

If veterinary care is needed, supportive modalities like fluid therapy, anti-vomit medication, and toxin absorption with activated charcoal may be utilized. In cases of severe toxicity, hospitalization and appropriate modalities may be necessary.

If you have used a topical product that contains eucalyptus on your dog and noted a rash, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

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In Summary

There is a blurred line between safe use and toxicity in dogs regarding eucalyptus. Concentrated eucalyptus oil is more problematic than ingestion of a small portion of the plant. In many cases, it is best to avoid the use of eucalyptus within the home and with your dog, and if it is used, close monitoring of your dog should be done. Speak with your veterinarian regarding the safety of products containing eucalyptus.

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Featured Image Credit: AmyLv, Shutterstock

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