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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

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Average Cost

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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

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Cockapoo

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Nineteen Weeks

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

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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7 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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Terrier mix

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Vomiting Diarrhea Seems Confused

I went to the vet that checked here said she had a heart worm she was pooping worms. After I left the vet I remember she ate 2 cough drops

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If the cough drops had Xylitol in them, that is a potentially life-threatening condition, and you should take her back to see your veterinarian. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to give them a call and let them know that she is having problems, since they just saw her. Heartworms and intestinal worms are two completely different parasites, and she may need treatment for those separately. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 1, 2020

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Cane Corso Italiano (Italian Mastiff)

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Two Years

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing/Coughing

My dog has kennel cough. I tried to help him by making him a home remedy with lemon and honey. I gave it to him this morning and tonight I realized it was eucalyptus honey he only had 1 spoon of it. I haven’t seen any symptoms of poison all day though I am still scared and do not know what to do?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I think that the small amount of eucalyptus in Eucalyptus honey is probably not a problem for toxicity for a large dog. One thing that you can do to help with kennel cough is sit in a bathroom where you have run a hot to shower, for 10 to 15 minutes with him and let the steam help his nasal passages. If he continues to cough and it is not getting better, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. I hope that all goes well for

Oct. 3, 2020

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Lhasa Apso/toy poodle

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5 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Vomiting Yellow Frothy Foam

What could cause this. There is no food in the vomit. She has a habit of eating of eating gumnuts and eucalyptus leaves.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Puppies are very prone to parasites, infectious diseases, and intestinal infections. If this is still happening, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 15, 2020

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Pomeranian

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One Year

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog ate a eucalyptus leaf and I'm wondering if I should take her to the vet. She weighs only about 10 lbs so I don't know if it would be toxic to her, but she's not displaying any symptoms (yet). Is there anything I can do besides just taking her to the vet? What should I do until then?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your dog is okay. If they are having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 22, 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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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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0 found helpful

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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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0 found helpful

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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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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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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

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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