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What is Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction ?

Lysol is a popular disinfectant cleaning product, but the active ingredient Phenol can act as either a toxin or an allergen for cats. Phenol is a naturally occurring chemical which can be found in small amounts in plants like thyme, clove, and oregano. It is also used in a number of cleaning products, including Lysol and Pinesol, and can be found in coal tar products. If your cat is showing signs of a reaction of any sort to Lysol, your veterinarian should be contacted to evaluate the type and severity of the reaction.

Cats have a very keen sense of smell. They are often more sensitive to odors and fragrances than other animal species. Additionally, some scents can cause an adverse reaction or an allergy when inhaled, consumed or contacted. Lysol is one such product that may cause problems to your feline if exposed to it.

Symptoms of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

Symptoms of an allergic reaction and a mild contact response to the toxin in the product are very similar, including: 

  • Bumps and scabs on the skin
  • Dandruff
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Overgrooming
  • Pulling out tufts of fur
  • Scabbing
  • Swollen skin

Toxic reactions can become amplified from there, attacking the nervous system and producing symptoms such as: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cardiac failure
  • Circulatory disruptions
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Paralysis
  • Renal failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Seizures/twitching
  • Staggering
  • Sudden blindness
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness


The ingredients in Lysol can affect cats negatively in multiple ways:

Allergic Reaction

Cats can develop allergies to any of the ingredients in Lysol, which can trigger allergy symptoms. This cleaning product is capable of produce reactions both due to topical contact or due to inhalation of the fumes or fine spray.  

Toxic Reaction (Consumed)

If this product is ingested, it can cause severe damage to the central nervous system as well as injuring the liver and kidneys. If your pet has consumed any amount of Lysol, or any other product containing Phenol, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible

Toxic Reaction (Topical)

When introduced topically, the main active chemical in Lysol can induce burns on the skin in solutions that are at concentrations of just one to five percent. At higher levels, these compounds can leach into the bloodstream and cause damage to the nervous system as well.

Causes of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

Skin allergies caused by contact with chemicals like phenol are a result of an overly aggressive response by a specialized type of immune cell called a mast cell to a protein present in the cleaner. Phenol produced either synthetic or naturally contains the proteins that can stimulate the mast cells into releasing the chemical known as histamine. The inflammatory reaction caused by histamine is what instigates the majority of the swelling and itching that is characteristic of an allergic response.

Phenol is also especially toxic to cats as their unique physiology makes their livers ill-equipped to clear it from their system. In addition to cleaners like Lysol, many essential oils such as thyme and tea-tree oils contain dangerous amounts of this chemical compound.

Diagnosis of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

The visit to the veterinarian will most likely start with a physical examination of the patient, including standard tests such as a complete blood count and a biochemical profile. These tests may reveal the presence of phenol in the bloodstream as well as the concentrations that are present, and if an allergy is involved the blood tests may also expose an overabundance of a type of white blood cells known as eosinophils. If phenol is suspected to play a part in the symptoms then mixing the animal’s urine with ferric chloride may indicate if the chemical is present by turning purple, although laboratory testing should be used to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.

Skin scrapings will typically be collected from any areas that are affected by skin damage, and these samples will be examined microscopically, utilizing a technique known as a cutaneous cytology. This is typically done in order to evaluate the possibility that other disorders, such as infections or infestations, may be the cause of the symptoms. If allergies are suspected as a cause, then intradermal testing may be recommended in an attempt to determine if an allergy exists to either the phenol or to one of the other ingredients in Lysol.

Treatment of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

The treatment of the disorder will depend on which type of reaction your pet is exhibiting. In the event of the recent ingestion of the chemical, you should visit the veterinarian right away, as neither gastric lavage nor emetics are generally recommended to clear the toxin from the digestive system; it is particularly important not to induce vomiting if phenol has been ingested as it may cause additional harm to the animal rather than helping. Activated charcoal is also commonly employed as an effective means to soak up any remaining toxins from the digestive system, and IV fluids will generally be provided. If the toxicity is caused by dermal contact with the phenol, then the chemicals should be fully flushed from the skin and the patient should be bathed in glycerol, followed by a more traditional bathing with a mild feline shampoo or with liquid dish soap. Medications to support the respiratory system may be recommended, as well as supportive drugs for the liver and kidneys. 

If the symptoms are being caused by an allergy, ceasing exposure to the allergen entirely will eliminate the symptoms to cease, although it may be challenging to remove phenol from the environment completely as it is used in a number of varied products. There are a number of antihistamines that are relatively effective for felines; both formulated specifically for cats and some are formulated for humans. You should never give your pet human medications without the advice and supervision of a veterinarian as even those that are safe to use may require species-specific adjustments to the dosage.

Salves and shampoos made with hydrocortisone may also help to relieve pain and discomfort of the skin although it is crucial that your pet be prevented from licking off these preparations. Although cats can develop side effects from the corticosteroids, it is much less common than it is for dogs. If neither antihistamines or hydrocortisone preparations are successful in reducing severe allergy-related symptoms and you are unable to eliminate the chemical from the cat’s environment then injected immunotherapy may be attempted to reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

Recovery of Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction in Cats

If you are concerned about your cat’s recovery once home from the hospital, contact the clinic for a re-evaluation. The veterinarian may recommend avoiding from now on the use of products containing phenol, such as Lysol, due to the threat of adverse reaction in your cat from the inhalation, consumption or allergic reaction to it. Additionally, continue the use of medication or ointments prescribed by the veterinarian until complete.

Lysol Allergy and Adverse Reaction Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

6 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Fur Loss
Thinning fur

I was sick for weeks and to clean my bedroom I used Lysol disinfectant spray. Kira wasn't in the room when I cleaned. However, she likes to lay under my bed, and the carpet was liberally sprayed with Lysol. The cleaning was done on Dec 24. I noticed today that she has thinning hair on her sides, 4 days later. Does the thinning hair sound like it was caused by a dried Lysol carpet?

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3 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

I sometimes use a scented lysol spray around my room to help keep away germs, I have 4 cats which all enjoy to hang out in my room. None have showed any symptoms as far as I know, but should I still stop? One of my cats does tend to have quite a bit of dandruff but he has always been this way, even before I began using the spray. I simply worry whether or not I should stop using this product for the safety of my pets.

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Conway Kitty
7 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


I've been moving musty, dusty stuff around the house in preparation for my move, so I have been spraying the house off and on liberally with Lysol. Shortly after and ever since, my cat has been having major sneezing fits (10 to 20 sneezes in a row) and constantly snorts to clear her nasal passages. Can all this Lysol be contributing to her respiratory distress? I have had my cat to the vet several times since all this started, but I never connected it with my use of Lysol. The vet has put her on antibiotics (for a month at a time) and other medications. None of the medications has worked. She is still sneezing like crazy. And in the meantime, I've still been using the Lysol. This morning, I just happened to google "cats" and "Lysol" and came up with your website. Please advise. Thank you!

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8 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Not satan
Walking sideways

Mom has been sick with the flu and dad has been spraying Lysol everywhere in the house she goes... a lot. We think it may have gotten in the cats food and water (it’s in their bathroom) and he’s just lying around and not moving or reacting to anything. It’s not like him at all.

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American Short Hair
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used


sprayed lysol near litter box to clean around it. got it in cats litter box on accident. he contracted a uti, went on antibiotics and pain pills for 6 days. pills stopped working day 3, antibiotics didnt work at all. brought him to vet on 6th day, and he has to stay 3 days. get a catheter, blood work, xrays, more antibiotics. flush him out. he was throwing up for days, wasnt eating alot, hid under the bed. peeing outside of litterbox in inappropriately. hissing when we picked him up. stayed in litterbox for a good amount time trying to pee when he felt the sensation.

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Long hair domestic
8 Weeks
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Out of control
Loss of Appetite
Loss Of Mass
Loss of Balance
Loose Bowel Movements

I also have cleaned Tom's(8w old) litter box and the area around as well as my whole house with clorox wipes and lysol. This morning out of the blue she started acting very crazy. Ie: playing very rough and literally bouncing off the walls. She was even off kilter it seems. Now this afternoon she won't eat. Which is very very unlike her. She seems paranoid and just is not herself.

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domestic short hair
3 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Eating, drinking fine

Tonight before bed I checked my cat's water bowl and noticed that he had kicked a dry Lysol wipes inside. I don't know how long it was in there but it was completely saturated,since I was attending classes today. He he really does not approach anything with a strong smells it doesn't appear that he drank any since the bowl looked about as full as it was when I left (I had just refilled it the previous night with clean water). He is acting normal energy wise, is playing, cuddly, responding to being picked up positively, and not displaying any unusual symptoms. Should I take him to the vet. I just took him last week for a UTI and cannot afford another visit unless absolutely necessary.

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Domestic shorthair
4 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Red Eye

My kitten is being treated for ringworm, we've been using Lysol to treat the house, and lime dip + pills to treat the kittens. 1 of them showed up with a bloodshot eye , and seems to be getting worse. If it is Lysol, will discontinued use solve the problem?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
I'm not sure what is causing the bloodshot eye, so I can't say if discontinuing the Lysol will help. If the eye does not improve or Sammy is pawing at the eye or seems uncomfortable, it would be best to have a recheck with your veterinarian to have the eye looked at, in case it is unrelated.

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2 Years
Mild condition
-1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

My cat may have ingested Lysol, but it is unsure. She doesn’t smell like lysol on the paws and she doesn’t usually lick things (even raw or cooked meat) I think she just breathe it. She breathe, not with difficulty but sometimes makes a weird snoring sound. She also produces a bit of saliva, she wont eat or drink water. She is 8lbs.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It certainly sounds like Hazy is having a reaction to Lysol, you should call the manufacturer (1-800-228-4722) and either visit your Veterinarian or contact the Pet Poison Helpline. In the meantime you should rinse out her mouth and ensure that there is none on her fur. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My kitten had ringworm and has given to me with one spot on my face. I went to the store to buy cleaning products and did buy Lysol Max. I checked the ingredients when I got home and it did not show phenol. So I then went to the MSDS to look at each ingredient and it was not listed as an ingredient. I went ahead and sprayed my furniture, cat bed, etc and my kitten had not shown any adverse reaction. Plus I would hope Lysol would advise to not use if a cat is in the household. Could it be that Lysol has removed the Phenol from their products?
Thanks, Kai’s mom

My kitten hasn't ingested anything, and has only been introduced to the Lysol via air, clothe...

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