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What is Eucalyptus Poisoning?

The eucalyptus plant is the major source of eucalyptus oil, which is used in many products for its antiseptic properties, scent, and flavoring. When ingested in sufficient amounts this oil, eucalyptol, is an irritant to the gastrointestinal system, causing discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is also a neurotoxin and can cause neurological symptoms as well, such as depression, confusion, and seizures. If your dog has ingested any part of the eucalyptus plant or a product containing eucalyptus oil it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Eucalyptol, the chemical in eucalyptus, is a gastrointestinal irritant and a neurotoxin. If your dog consumes either the plant or products containing eucalyptus oil, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Eucalyptus Poisoning Average Cost

From 238 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$700

Symptoms of Eucalyptus Poisoning in Dogs

Ingestion of eucalyptol can result in both gastrointestinal and neurological damage, and the symptoms may sometimes be delayed for a few hours. Signs that your pet may have ingested an overdose of eucalyptus oil can include:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dilated eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pawing at mouth (burning in mouth) 
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Rapid or weakened heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing        

In addition to these symptoms, undiluted eucalyptus oil may cause itching, redness, and swelling of the exposed skin. 

Types

The natural compound of eucalyptol is found in several plants, though usually in much smaller concentrations. 

Plants that contain eucalyptol include:

  • Bay leaves 
  • Camphor laurel
  • Cannabis sativa (strain specific)  
  • Cherry laurel
  • Common sage 
  • Mugwort
  • Rosemary
  • Sweet basil
  • Tea tree
  • Wormwood

Most of these plants, such as the sweet basil or cannabis, have extremely minute amounts of the chemical. A few, such as the laurel plants, wormwood, or mugwort, can cause the same dangerous symptoms as the eucalyptus plant. As this toxic oil can be found in numerous plants and products, if your pet exhibits signs of poisoning, it is essential to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Causes of Eucalyptus Poisoning in Dogs

The oil from the eucalyptus plant is eucalyptol, also known as cineole. Although it is toxic when undiluted it is also a very useful liquid. It is an antiseptic and has been used to treat skin disorders, bad breath, coughs, and congestion for centuries. As such, it is found in a number of products, from insect repellents to cough drops. Commonly known products such as Listerine and Vicks VapoRub include large amounts of this oil and it is even included in minute amounts in some food products. Although ingestion of the plant itself can certainly be the cause of poisoning, eating products made with moderate to high concentrations of this useful but volatile chemical will result in toxicity as well.

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Diagnosis of Eucalyptus Poisoning in Dogs

If you witnessed your pet consuming the plant or product containing eucalyptus oil, then the identification of the item eaten may be all that is required for diagnosing the origin of your pet’s affliction. If the cause of the toxicity is not immediately known your veterinarian will question you regarding any opportunistic eating that may have occurred as well as any prescriptions or supplements that you or your dog are taking to determine if they may contain the toxin. If your canine ingested a product with the eucalyptus oil, the packaging will help the veterinarian get an idea of how much of the actual chemical was ingested as well as alerting them to any additional toxins in the product. Many of the symptoms are similar to symptoms and signs of other types of neurotoxins. The aroma the oil produces is rather distinctive, however, and can frequently be smelled on the patient’s breath, or in the blood or urine.

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Treatment of Eucalyptus Poisoning in Dogs

Due to the caustic nature of the Eucalyptus oil, it is not recommended to induce vomiting in the event of an overdose as this can cause further damage. If there is any oil that is still remaining on the skin or in the eyes, the area should be thoroughly rinsed to avoid adverse skin reactions. Treatment at the veterinary hospital is likely to start with gastric lavage followed by the use of activated charcoal to soak up any remaining toxin. In the case of Eucalyptus oil ingestion, it is particularly important that the gastric lavage be done under general anesthesia, and there is a risk of exposure of the windpipe and lungs to the Eucalyptus oil. General supportive measures will likely include IV fluids for dehydration and combinations of sugars and electrolytes to adjust any imbalances. Laxatives and stimulants may be given to help speed the toxin through the system, and antihistamines and pain medications may be recommended to reduce any itching, swelling, or pain.

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Recovery of Eucalyptus Poisoning in Dogs

Ensuring that the environment that the patient will be using for recovery is a quiet and calm setting will help to speed recovery. Adequate amounts of fresh water should be made available and extra bathroom breaks should be expected. Patients that are recovering from anesthesia given for a gastric irrigation may have coordination difficulties at first, and are often initially confused and disoriented. In addition, drowsiness from the disturbance to the central nervous system may continue for a few days. Isolation from other pets and from children is generally suggested until both the medication and the toxin have had a chance to fully clear out of your companion’s system.

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Eucalyptus Poisoning Average Cost

From 238 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$700

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Eucalyptus Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Cockapoo

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Nineteen Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Noisy Breathing, Runny Nose, Reverse Sneezing

I have been using essential oils to prevent him from eating our furniture for the past few days and when he started reverse sneezing I stopped. Last night, he was breathing heavily. Should I get him checked out?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Essential oils can be dangerous if they are inhaled into the lungs. If he continues to breathe heavily or reverse sneezes or seems lethargic, then I would have him seen as soon as possible, yes. If he is sleeping comfortably, and reverse sneezing is improving and I think he is probably okay.

Sept. 29, 2020

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Pug

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Two Weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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N/A

I unknowingly put on a diffuser, and poured eucalyptus oil in it, the diffuser was not close to my my pet and it was out of reach. While I was letting the diffuser run for about 5-10 minutes I got a gut feeling to research if it was even okay to use a diffuser and this certain oil, and the first word I saw that popped up was toxic, I immediately ran to the diffuser and turned it off, I unplugged it and moved it out of the room. I also set up another crate in the living room to move him out of the environment to let my room air clear. Do you think my puppy was exposed? I am so scared.

Aug. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If the diffuser was run in a room where your puppy had plenty of air circulation, you should be fine. The problem with the diffusers comes where animals are close to them, and they breathe in the droplets from the wax. At 2 weeks old, I do not suspect that your puppy was wandering around near the diffuser. I think you should be okay. If you see your puppy having trouble breathing or coughing, then it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 29, 2020

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French Bulldog / beagle

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Twelve Weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

My dog had bit a eucalyptus plant but did not digest the plant is old like 8 Years old can he get really ill

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That small amount of exposure is not likely to cause any toxicities for your dog. If you do notice any vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or lethargy, then it would be best to have your puppy seen by a veterinarian right away, but they will likely be okay. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 8, 2020

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French Bulldog

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Eight Months

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1 found helpful

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None

How soon after the ingestion of a small amount of Eukaliptus leaves (less than 1 ounce) are symptoms likely to present?

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

hello, So sorry to hear that you are having issues with your dog. It can take a few hours before symptoms start to show up. Some times these signs start very quickly after eating the plant. It would be best to monitor him for the rest of today and if you see any signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, or salivation, take him to your vet.

July 24, 2020

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Great Pyrenees

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One Year

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1 found helpful

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N/A

My dog likes to sleep in my restroom, but I have eucalyptus bunches hanging in my shower. Will the scent of the plant hurt him?

July 10, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

The smell of the plants should not bother him, as long as he is not sitting right next to it or eating it. I hope that he is doing well.

July 10, 2020

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Mitzi

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Shitzu

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13 Years

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Critical severity

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I have a diffuser and I had eucalyptus oil in it but it was really really strong.... I then read that eucalyptus is bad for dogs so I haven’t used it again, a few weeks later my dog started having seizures, two days ago I toilet to emergency vet. Enlarged heart and liver, BP240, heart rate 48. I think I unknowingly killed her. She was only a little dog, shitzu/maltese. I’m absolutely distraught... 😭

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Duke and Coco

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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18 Months

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Fair severity

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Nil

We have 2 large Eucalyptus trees in our backyard that drop a lot of leaves, gum nuts and little white furry flowers. Our 2 dogs are eating the nuts and flowers - showing no signs yet but could this be dangerous for them?

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Nash

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Maltipoo

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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None So Far

My 4-month-old dog ate less than half of a halls cough drop with eucalyptus oil in it. He is acting fine and has no symptoms thus far but I’m concerned. Should I take him to the vet or wait for him to show signs of discomfort?

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Hero

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Shih Tzu

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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None - Improved Cough

My dog had kennel cough and I rubbed eucalyptus oil on his throat and chest. It really improved the kennel cough, but I was just told it is toxic to dogs and I may have caused him to have liver damage. He is an 11 lb 2 year old Shih tzu. I would love more information please. If I have caused liver damage, how do I proceed? Kindly, Joanne

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Milah

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Siberian Husky

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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Vomiting

Yesterday afternoon our dog was licking behind someone ear and they said they had put some eucalyptus oil there earlier in the day. Our dog was good until she woke us up this morning to her vomiting. That seems to be the only symptom for now. Should we take her in now or wait to see if she has continued symptoms? She also had her first day of doggy daycare yesterday so we thought she maybe could have had a treat that didn’t agree with her belly until I read this article.

Eucalyptus Poisoning Average Cost

From 238 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$700

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