Is peppermint oil safe for dogs

Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Dogs?

The Scoop on Peppermint Oil for Dogs: Is it Safe or a Risky Choice?

There is a lot of misinformation about peppermint essential oil and dogs on the internet.

In this article we'll uncover the facts about peppermint oil for dogs and whether it's a safe choice or a potential risk.

Peppermint oil, derived from the leaves of the peppermint plant, has been used for centuries for its numerous health benefits in humans. But what about our canine companions?

While peppermint oil is generally considered safe for dogs when used correctly, there are some important factors to consider.

  1. It's crucial to use high-quality, pure peppermint oil without any additives or synthetic ingredients. Believe it or not, this is a BIG challenge when many manufacturers market their peppermint essential oil as pure and unadulterated when it is not.
  2. The oil should be diluted properly before applying it to your dog's skin or using it in aromatherapy.

Let's dive in and explore the potential benefits of peppermint oil for dogs, its potential safety concerns, and how to use it effectively.


Potential Benefits of Peppermint Oil for Dogs

Peppermint oil offers several potential benefits for dogs when used appropriately.

Repel Fleas and Ticks: Peppermint essential oil has a strong natural ability to repel insects such as fleas and ticks. It is an excellent alternative to chemical-based repellents (which come with their own risks). We used peppermint in our dog flea shampoo combined with cedar. These two powerhouse flea repellents are mixed in organic saponified oils making a safe and non-toxic dog flea shampoo!

Improve Problem Skin: Peppermint oil can also provide relief for dogs with skin issues such as yeasty skin or oily skin, it can cool hot skin, reduce inflammation, and help to rebalance the sebum. We use peppermint essential in our holistic alternative to medicated dog shampoo where, combined with tea tree oil, it helps to reduce the presence of yeast and bacteria while cooling the skin to provide relief. 

Improve Respiratory Issues & Digestion: Peppermint is fantastic for dogs (and humans) with respiratory issues and can help with digestion, nausea, and even help to relieve sore muscles.  


Tips for Choosing High-Quality Peppermint Oil For Dogs

Unfortunately, peppermint is one of the most adulterated essential oils on the market (next to lavender).

Even if you purchase a product labeled as "pure peppermint essential oil" you may be purchasing a product that is adulterated by synthetics or even entirely synthetic.

Adulterated essential oils are not safe. It is that simple.

Because adulterated peppermint oil is so prevalent, and it is so incredibly difficult to discern between an adulterated essential oil and a pure one, my #1 recommendation for using peppermint essential oil on your dog is to use products with peppermint pre-mixed in them from manufacturers you trust and those that you KNOW do their due diligence on each LOT of peppermint oil they use in the products they manufacture.

I also recommend using products that are USDA certified to organic standards. Our Cedar Peppermint shampoo which is great for fleas and our Peppermint Tea Tree shampoo which is the holistic alternative to medicated shampoo, are both certified to USDA organic food standards. This means a third party (the USDA National Organic Program) reviews the "chain of custody" of the essential oils from the farm to the bottle to verify the oils have not been adulterated in any way.

The peppermint essential oil that 4-Legger uses in our dental powder, medicated dog shampoo alternative, and flea dog shampoo is evaluated for safety by lot number and a third party verifies the "chain of custody" of our peppermint to independently verify it has not been adulterated.

Our peppermint oil is extracted by steam. We know it is not adulterated before it arrives at our manufacturing facility. We also evaluate the GC/MS (gas chromatography–mass spectrometry of the key constituents to ensure the menthol and pulegone levels are safe and there are no issues with the oil. Then, it is diluted to safe levels in our products. 

Risks and Potential Side Effects of Using Peppermint Oil for Dogs

The biggest risk with peppermint essential oil is using an adulterated peppermint essential oil. Dr. Melissa Shelton, the holistic veterinarian behind animalEO Essential Oils and who is considered to be the leading expert in the use of essential oils with animals, found elevated liver enzymes in animals that were exposed to adulterated essential oils and a lack of therapeutic benefit.  Dr. Shelton has published The Animal Desk Reference II: Essential Oils for Animals 2nd Edition: March 23, 2018 and it is a wealth of information we highly recommend.

While a true pure peppermint oil can offer various benefits, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks and side effects from mis-use.

Tisserand and Young, in their book Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. 2nd Edition: October 24, 2013 recommend a maximum dermal use of peppermint at 5.4% and a 5-20% for oral use.

One of the main concerns is the concentration of menthol and pulegone in peppermint oil, which can cause gastrointestinal upset when used in high amounts, hence the guidelines by Tisserand and Young for safe dilution.

Another potential risk is the sensitivity of some dogs to essential oils. Just like humans, dogs can have individual sensitivities or allergies to certain substances. It's crucial to monitor your dog closely when using peppermint oil for the first time and discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur, such as skin irritation or respiratory distress.

It is also important to remember that dogs have a heightened sense of smell. While humans may find the scent of peppermint oil pleasant, it can be overwhelming for dogs if not diluted properly.

All of these risks highlight the importance of knowing and trusting the manufacturer of any essential oil that you are considering for use.  The best way to know is to look for 3rd party verification such as 4-Legger maintains through the USDA National Organic Program.\;

Common Misinformation about Peppermint Oil for Dogs

There are several common misconceptions about peppermint oil for dogs that need to be addressed. One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that peppermint oil is toxic to dogs. While high concentrations of menthol can be toxic, when pure peppermint oil (unadulterated) is used appropriately and in the correct dilution, peppermint oil is generally safe for dogs. In virtually every case of essential oil toxicity, the cause was related to poor quality oil used in an inappropriate application and in an improper concentration. Those are all human errors which are avoidable with a little due diligence. Finally, don’t rely on Dr. Google or other search engines to provide accurate information. Look for academic research sources and scholarly publications such as the ones named above.


Wrap Up

Peppermint oil can offer potential benefits for dogs when the oil is pure, it is used correctly, and it is in the appropriate dilution.

It can help repel insects including fleas and ticks, provide relief for digestive issues, alleviate respiratory symptoms,  and cool hot, yeasty skin.

However, it's crucial to be aware of the potential risks and side effects, such as toxicity in high concentrations, the risk of adulterated peppermint oil, and individual sensitivities.