Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Dogs? Does it Kill Or Repel Fleas? Should You Use Peppermint Oil On Your Dog? Let’s Find Out!
If you use essential oils on yourself, then of course you’ve wondered about whether or not essential oils could help your dog.
Some owners even want to know if they can switch to using peppermint oil for fleas and ticks instead of preventatives.
Before you abandon your flea and tick preventative, however, there are a few things you should know.
Peppermint oil is not as safe for dogs as it is for humans.
It also might not be as effective.
Here are the facts.
Natural is better—right?
Before we get into peppermint oil for dogs, we need to talk about a common misconception.
Many pet owners think that natural products are safer than what they consider to be harmful chemicals found in pharmaceuticals.
The idea that natural medicines are inherently better and safer is simply not accurate.
For starters, plenty of ‘natural’ plants are toxic for humans and animals. And technically essential oils are chemical compounds, too.
Plus, unlike terms like ‘organic’ or ‘FDA approved,’ the term ‘natural’ is totally unregulated.
That means there are no standards for ‘natural’ remedies, which is a little alarming.
These supplements are often put on the market with minimal, if any testing. This means that you have no way of knowing what the potential side effects are.
That is not to say that these natural remedies do not work.
If you plan on using essential oils or other alternative medicines on your pet, however, it does mean that you need to be careful and research which products you use and how you use them.
What is peppermint oil for dogs?
Essential oils, including peppermint, are aromatic oils that are extracted from parts of a plant.
Peppermint oil is gaining popularity for people for a wide range of ailments.
Recently some owners and a few holistic veterinarians are proposing it as an alternative, or supplement, to traditional flea and tick preventatives.
Some of this popularity is based off anecdotes and successful marketing by companies who sell natural pet products.
Some is based on scientific research.
Unfortunately for dogs, there seems to be more anecdotes available than scientific studies.
In this article, we will explore the potential benefits, beginning with peppermint oil for fleas. And answer that important question, is peppermint oil safe for dogs?
Peppermint oil for fleas
Peppermint has been used as an insect repellent for thousands of years, and is still used in some countries today against pests like fleas and mosquitos.
Now that we have powerful chemical repellents like DEET, however, how does peppermint hold up in comparison?
Some studies have found that peppermint oil, especially in combination with other essential oils, is effective in repelling pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.
Others have been inconclusive, or found very little benefits to using peppermint oil to fight fleas.
This lack of conclusive evidence is not stopping companies from manufacturing peppermint oil flea repellents.
Does peppermint oil kill fleas?
One piece of information we can say for sure is false is the idea that peppermint oil kills fleas.
Peppermint oil does not kill fleas.
When used in a product that contains other ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate or citrus extracts like linalool and d-limonene, a peppermint oil repellent may kill fleas, but the peppermint oil is not the active killing ingredient.
It may, however, help repel fleas.
Does peppermint oil repel fleas?
Peppermint oil may help repel fleas. Although further research is needed to confirm exactly how well peppermint oil performs against conventional therapies.
The other ingredients in the product will also play a role in determining the products efficacy.
Since many products have different concentrations and even different instructions for how often to use them, this can be confusing.
Does peppermint oil on dogs for fleas work?
Now let’s get to the big question.
Does peppermint oil actually work to repel fleas?
The answers are unclear.
Without regulation between products and large studies measuring their efficacy and safety, we have no way of knowing if peppermint oil flea products work.
Many veterinarians are skeptical and concerned about the increasing interest in essential oils, despite the lack of research supporting their use in veterinary medicine.
This has less to do with if essential oils work, and more to do with safety.
Is peppermint oil safe for dogs?
The most important question any prospective oil user should ask themselves is not ‘does peppermint oil kill fleas’ but ‘is peppermint oil safe for dogs?’
The answer, for the moment, is no.
The use of essential oils to treat dogs is relatively new. This means there has not been enough time for researchers to determine the risks, effectiveness, and correct dosages for essential oils.
What researchers have found so far, however, is that there are some serious adverse reactions associated with peppermint oil.
Dogs and other animals are more sensitive to oils than we are.
Cats are especially sensitive, and you should never use peppermint oil on your cat. https://www.thehappycatsite.com/is-peppermint-safe-for-cats/
These oils can cause skin irritation, and the potency of the smell can be disorienting for your dog’s powerful nose.
Ingestion or improper use can lead to more serious side effects.
Dogs that have received toxic doses may experience lethargy and vomiting, and some dogs had these reactions even with the prescribed dosages.
On top of these risks are the risks associated with fleas themselves.
Exposure to fleas can cause severe irritation, and failure to use preventatives can also lead to further problems.
Fleas spread tapeworm and viral and bacterial diseases.
They can also cause flea related dermatitis, which can lead to secondary infections, and severe infestations can cause anemia in young dogs.
Is peppermint bad for dogs?
Peppermint oil might be bad for dogs, but what about peppermint?
Peppermint is an herb in the mint family.
It has many herbal uses, and makes a fragrant addition to herb gardens.
Peppermint is toxic to dogs if ingested in large amounts. But there is no reason you can’t grow peppermint in your garden. So long as your dog is not left unsupervised to chow down on an herbal treat.
Is peppermint good for dogs?
Peppermint is considered toxic to dogs by the ASPCA.
In small doses, however, it is generally safe.
That does not necessarily make it good for dogs.
If you want to use a flea repellent that contains peppermint, talk to your veterinarian about which products are safe for dogs, how to apply them, and the correct dosage.
That way, you will know you are doing something that is good for your dog instead of accidentally harming her.
Can dogs eat peppermint?
Peppermint is toxic for dogs if ingested.
This includes the plant in large quantities and essential oils, which are highly concentrated and therefore more dangerous.
If you use essential oils in your home, make sure you keep them out of the reach of pets and children.
Peppermint flea spray
At this point, you’re probably wondering why there are so many flea products out there that contain peppermint and other essential oils.
This is understandably frustrating.
Part of the reason is because the EPA does not require registration for essential oils, since these have been deemed safe for human use.
That does not mean they are effective or safe for use in dogs.
Some sprays include other, more effective ingredients and very low concentrations of peppermint oil. These sprays might be safe.
On the other hand, a study performed in 2012 examined that the records of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center database found that cats and dogs experienced significant adverse side effects even when used according to the product label.
If you are considering using a peppermint flea spray on your dog, consult your veterinarian to see if the spray you have selected is safe.
Your veterinarian has access to veterinary journals and resources that can help him or her determine if there have been cases of toxicity associated with the product.
If your veterinarian says the product is safe for you to use, make sure you also use an additional repellent to make sure your dog is protected.
Is peppermint essential oil safe for dogs?
Products containing peppermint essential oil might not be totally safe, but they are much safer than using your own peppermint essential oil on your dog.
Natural flea repellent products typically use lower concentrations of peppermint essential oil to reduce the risks of toxicity.
Even a drop of essential oil diluted in a homemade spray could be too much if used on irritated skin.
If you wish to use peppermint essential oil on your dog, always use a specially formulated peppermint oil flea repellent and be sure to check to see if the producer has performed safety tests.
You can find this information out on their websites or by calling their customer service line.
Is peppermint oil safe for dogs and should you use it to treat their fleas?
Fleas are frustrating.
The idea of spraying harmful chemicals in your home, especially if you have pets and children, is understandably concerning. But sometimes your natural solution could be harmful, too.
Most veterinarians caution owners against using peppermint oil and other essential oils on their pets.
That does not mean you can’t use oils to treat yourself or your home. As long as you comply with any safety suggestions your veterinarian provides, especially when it comes to spraying pet bedding.
Hopefully, future studies will help veterinarians and owners figure out how (and if) to use essential oils safely. And provide us with more definitive answers about which products are harmful and which are effective.
Until then, play it safe and treat your dog with another form of flea preventative.
Further Reading and Resources
- Maia, M. F. et al. ‘Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development, and testing.’ Malaria Journal. March 2011.
- ‘Have You Heard? Essential oil flea preventatives: “Natural” does not equate to no worries (Script). DVM360. May 2013.
- Stregowski, J. RVT. ‘Sample script: Natural flea and tick repellants.’ DVM360. Jan 2016.
- Coates, J. DVM. ‘Essential Oils for Pets – Medicine or Toxin?’ PetMD. May 2014.
- Dryden, M. W. DVM, PhD, DACVM. ‘Fleas in Dogs and Cats.’ Merck Veterinary Manual.
- Genovese, A. G. et al. ‘Adverse reactions from essential oil-containing natural flea products exempted from Environmental Protection Agency regulations in dogs and cats.’ Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. Aug 2012.
- ‘Flea and Tick Active Ingredients.’ Drs. Foster and Smith Educational Staff. Doctors Foster and Smtih.