Is eucalyptus safe for dogs?

Is Eucalyptus Safe for Dogs? (Key Considerations)

Our veterinarians research and recommend the best products. Learn more about our process. We may receive a commission on purchases made from our links.

Sometimes it feels like my dog gets into everything. It can be a stressful experience, since you want to make sure your pup is going to be OK and you need to answer the question:

Do I really need to go to the vet?

For this post we asked our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg to offer some general tips for what to do when your pet gets into something they shouldn’t (or that you’re not sure about), and will give you all the information you need about eucalyptus and your dog.

Is Eucalyptus Safe for Dogs?

  No, the ASPCA lists eucalyptus as a plant that is highly toxic to dogs. Although they are technically not allergic to the essential oil, it can still cause terrible kidney and liver damage. Essential oil is a purified version of the plant and is, therefore, more dangerous.

Dogs can’t eat the same things people can, and while everyone knows not to give dogs chocolate, not everything is as clear. Is it safe to give a dog eucalyptus?

The short answer is no. Eucalyptus is widely considered by professionals to be toxic to dogs in every form.

Eucalyptus has been used in Australia for centuries to treat a myriad of symptoms from headaches to lice, and it might lead one to be tempted to turn to it for their canine companions. But when it comes to eucalyptus in any form, you might want to think twice.

What Are the Risks if a Dog Eats Eucalyptus?

In most cases, as little as three and a half milliliters of eucalyptus oil can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures if taken orally. To make matters worse, canines can absorb eucalyptus through the skin, so even rubbing eucalyptus oil on your dog can cause the dog to become symptomatic.

Symptoms can range anywhere from being mildly ill to being fatal.

There are few studies on the effects of eucalyptus oil on dogs, and we don’t know how much constitutes a toxic dosage, meaning it’s better to avoid it altogether.

What is Eucalyptus Oil?

Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, which is native to Australia. The oil has a fresh, camphoraceous aroma and is used in aromatherapy and as a natural insecticide.

The main chemical component of eucalyptus oil is eucalyptol, also known as 1,8-cineole. This substance makes up 70-85% of the oil (1).

Eucalyptus oil has many purported benefits, including alleviating cold symptoms, reducing inflammation and pain, and relieving muscle tension. Additionally, it’s sometimes used as a natural cleaning agent or insect repellent.

Finally, eucalyptus oil is sometimes added to personal care products, such as soaps and shampoos, for its fragrance.

Is Eucalyptus Safe for Dog’s Skin?

Plenty of pet products contain trace amounts of eucalyptus and even use this as a selling point. If it’s toxic to dogs, then why do people use it?

Some use it to try and ward off fleas in a natural way rather than with proper flea medications. Most of these products contain little enough eucalyptus that tends not to be an issue, but if you are concerned for your pet, you should avoid them anyway. Even a small amount of eucalyptus can pose a threat to a dog.

Natural products are not as regulated as processed ones, so plenty of more natural shampoos and even medicinal products end up on shelves and can be harmful to your pets. If you are going to use something marketed as a natural remedy, you should always do your research and learn whether or not the ingredients are safe.

Which Pet Products Have Eucalyptus Oil?

Eucalyptus oil is a popular ingredient in many pet products, including shampoo, conditioner, and flea collars. While eucalyptus oil can be beneficial for your pet’s coat and skin, it is important to use products containing eucalyptus oil sparingly and only when necessary. Here are some tips for using eucalyptus oil-based pet products safely:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
  • Avoid getting eucalyptus oil products on your pet’s face or in their eyes. If contact does occur, flush the area with water immediately.
  • Do not use eucalyptus oil products on open wounds or irritated skin.
  • If your pet is pregnant or nursing, consult with your veterinarian before using any products containing eucalyptus oil.
  • Monitor your pet closely after using any eucalyptus oil products. If you notice any adverse reactions, such as excessive licking or scratching, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Does Eucalyptus Oil Actually Repel Fleas and Ticks?

A study published in the journal Parasites and Vectors looked at the efficacy of essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, against fleas and ticks. The study found that eucalyptus oil was effective at repelling both fleas and ticks. In fact, eucalyptus oil was more effective than some of the commercially available insect repellents tested.

Another study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, found that eucalyptus oil was effective at repelling fleas, but not ticks.

Overall, the research suggests that eucalyptus oil is an effective natural insect repellent, and it may be especially effective at repelling fleas.

If you’re looking for a natural way to keep fleas off your dog, eucalyptus oil may be worth a try. Just be sure to use a high-quality oil, and follow the directions on the label carefully. Never apply essential oils directly to your dog’s skin; always diluted them in a carrier oil first. And, as with any new product you introduce to your dog’s environment, be sure to watch for signs of allergic reaction.

Is Eucalyptus Oil Safe for Dogs To Smell?

While it’s best to avoid eucalyptus around dogs, most canines do not suffer effects from smelling eucalyptus oil. 

Is Eucalyptus Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?

Always dilute essential eucalyptus oil before using it around your dog, and keep it away from their faces. Some dogs may pace, sniff, tuck their tails or wrinkle their noses. If your dog does this, the smell may bother them, and you should stop diffusing the oil immediately. 

Is Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Safe for Dogs?

Lemon eucalyptus oil is also unsafe for dogs; the strong scent can cause distress for your canine. 

Tips from Our Vets

It is normal to be concerned whenever your dog or cat gets into something they should not have. Dogs particularly tend to eat things with little to no regard for edibility. Because so many things can be toxic to pets, even some that are perfectly safe for humans, it can be hard to know what to do. Here are three key steps to take first:

  1. The first thing you must do if your dog or cat ate or were exposed to something that they should not have is to determine how much of the substance they actually ingested.
  2. Save labels or take pictures so that you are able to show the ingredients to your pet’s veterinarian.
  3. Your veterinarian should be the first point of contact in the case of such an event. Call the nearest emergency veterinary hospital if it is outside of normal business hours.

Please follow the advice of your veterinarian. If your dog has ingested something toxic, they must immediately be taken to a hospital or clinic for treatment. If your veterinarian does not recommend seeing your pet right away, you should observe them carefully for any signs of illness. Things to be on the lookout for include:

  1. Vomiting – Your dog may vomit from simple gastrointestinal distress after eating something other than their dog or cat food. However, intractable or repeated vomiting can signal a toxin ingestion or another serious issue like gastric dilation volvulus. These conditions are life threatening and require emergency treatment right away.
  2. Lethargy – If your dog is acting oddly, or “not themselves,” it is a clue that the ingestion might be serious. Veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible.
  3. Hypersalivation – Excessive drooling may signal a toxin exposure or an injury to the mouth. It can also be a sign of nausea. If your dog or cat is in hypersalivation, you should reach out to their veterinarian.
  4. Weakness – If your dog or cat appears to be weak, is stumbling, or has difficulty walking, the likelihood of a toxin ingestion is higher. This is a sign that your dog requires veterinary care.
  5. Seizures – Twitching, rapid leg or eye movements, and convulsions are all signs that something is wrong. These abnormal movements may be due to a toxin or another issue that the dog is experiencing.
  6. Dribbling urine – Leaking urine is often seen in cases of marijuana toxicity. Dogs or cats exhibiting this sign should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic for treatment.

If you are unable to reach your veterinarian, a great resource for help is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The APCC is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach them at (888) 426-4435. There is a one-time $75 fee for this service.

Final Thoughts: Is Eucalyptus Safe for Dogs?

No, eucalyptus is highly toxic and not safe for dogs. 

  • Eucalyptus is not safe for a dog to ingest orally.
  • Eucalyptus can cause seizures, severe diarrhea, and organ damage.
  • Dogs can absorb eucalyptus through the skin and get these symptoms even without ingesting the eucalyptus.
  • Eucalyptus may end up in canine grooming products as natural products are less regulated than medicines.
  • Be aware of and careful about exposing your dog to eucalyptus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources

Our writing staff and team of veterinarians have dedicated a ton of time and energy to bringing you the best information possible about household products and food to help make sure your pets are safe.

You can check out our giant guide to human foods dogs can and can not eat, and we’ve created guides on whether over 40 human foods are safe for dogs to eat.

We’ve also created a series of posts on what household products are and aren’t safe for your pet, including:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.