If you are a fan of lemongrass essential oil, you also need to consider how it may affect any pets you may own.
As a dog parent, you want to ensure they are safe and healthy, and there are some important factors to be aware of that could influence how you use your oils.
Here we look at how safe it is to use lemongrass oil around dogs, some of the symptoms to look out for, treatment suggestions and tips on how to keep your dog safe around it. Learn more about what other essential oils are safe for dogs.
Is lemongrass oil safe for dogs?
Lemongrass oil that is properly diluted with a carrier oil may be safe to use around your dog, although there is still a risk that exposure could lead to an allergic reaction or more severe symptoms.
Whilst lemongrass poisoning is rare in dogs, the oil is toxic for canines and can cause harm if it is consumed in large amounts. The oils and cyanogenic glycosides found in lemongrass mean it is not suitable for their bodily system.
Essential oils are also more concentrated than the plant, so if your dog does ingest a large amount of it, they could experience severe symptoms. So, if you use lemongrass in a diffuser, spray or in a body product you should use extreme caution around your dog.
If your dog ingests a small amount of lemongrass essential oil it may give them an upset stomach. Although, every dog has different tolerance levels, so even ingesting a small amount of the oil could cause more severe symptoms. If you are growing the plant in your back garden to make your own mixture, this should be safe, as dogs are not herbivores and do not tend to eat a lot of the plant.
What are the symptoms of lemongrass poisoning in dogs?
In some instances, dogs can experience breathing difficulties if they have been poisoned by lemongrass. Some of the symptoms to look out for include:
- High temperature: Your dog may develop a fever within 24 hours of ingesting a large amount of lemongrass essential oil. Keep a close eye on them during this period to ensure the fever doesn’t intensify.
- Stomach problems: If your dog experiences an upset stomach due to lemongrass poisoning, it could lead to symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, lower appetite and a distended abdomen, which may be sensitive to touch for a while.
- Respiratory issues: In more extreme cases, dogs can develop respiratory issues that make it difficult for them to breathe. Once ingested, the cyanogenic glycosides turn into cyanide, which can lead to muscle spasms, drooling and vomiting due to a lack of oxygen intake.
If your dog needs emergency treatment or if you are concerned about their state of health after ingesting lemongrass essential oil, you should contact your local vet as soon as possible for advice.
How can you treat lemongrass poisoning in dogs?
As we advise above, the best treatment for a dog poisoned by lemongrass essential oil will be provided by a professional vet.
However, you may be able to treat milder symptoms at home that can ease the discomfort for your dog, such as:
- Give them water to drink: Just like humans, it is a good idea for your dog to drink water to help them flush the oil out of their system. This will help to break down the intestinal blockage caused by the ingestion of the oil.
- Watch how they behave: If your dog has lost their appetite or is vomiting, has a fever or has an increased respiratory rate, keep a close eye on them over the next 24-28 hours to ensure the symptoms do not progressively worsen.
The important thing is not to panic if your dog has ingested lemongrass essential oil. Try to keep calm so they can too and in most cases the symptoms should not elevate to an emergency situation.
What should you do if you need to see the vet in an emergency?
In more extreme situations, if you have called your local vet for an emergency appointment, you should also do the following:
- Take your dog outside to give them fresh air if they have inhaled the oil.
- Do not give your dog activated charcoal or induce vomiting if the oil has been ingested. This can increase the risk for your dog as essential oils can stick to the airways and cause an obstruction.
- Take the product and packaging with you in a sealed bag to the vets so they know what they are dealing with.
- Using washing up liquid and warm water, wash off any essential oils that are on your dog’s fur or skin.
Is lemongrass essential oil safe for dogs in a diffuser?
Lemongrass essential oil used in a diffuser is not safe for dogs. Extra precaution should be taken when using a diffuser around dogs and other pets, as the oil can cause breathing difficulties if ingested.
The best thing to do is to keep your dog out of the room whilst the diffuser is in use and air out the room by opening some windows before you let them back in.
Is lemongrass essential oil safe for dogs to breathe?
For the same reasons explained above, lemongrass essential oils are not safe for dogs to breathe. If ingested in large amounts, lemongrass essential oil can cause drooling, nausea and breathing difficulties, so ideally dogs should be kept away from the oil wherever possible.
What other essential oils are bad for dogs?
In general terms, essential oils and pets (including dogs, cats and birds) are not a very compatible combination. Some of the most toxic oils for dogs include:
- Ylang ylang oil
- Peppermint oil
- Citrus oil
- Tea tree oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Pine oil
- Sweet birch oil
Like lemongrass, when small amounts of these essential oils are ingested, it usually causes only mild symptoms. However, exposure to even a small amount could cause a more extreme toxic reaction, depending on their tolerance levels.
How to keep your dog safe from essential oils
It’s a good idea to speak with your local vet if you intend on using lemongrass essential oil around your dog, as they can provide specialist advice.
In general terms, use the following tips as a guideline on how to keep your dog (and other pets safe from the risks of essential oils).
- Always keep the essential oil out of the reach of your dog. Store in cupboards at height, so they cannot be accessed if you are not around.
- Do not leave essential oils unattended and within reach for the same reason – even if you are about to use it or have just done so.
- Due to the high concentration levels in essential oils, they should not be applied topically or orally to your dog, as it can lead to severe and dangerous reactions (Nikura do not sell food grade essential oils that are suitable for consumption).
- Always check that the oil used in a diffuser is safe for your dog. If it is, you should also air out the room before you let the dog back into the room.
- Passive diffusers tend to be a safer option, if they are not knocked over by your dog.
The more an essential oil is diluted, the safer it will be for a dog, although always seek professional advice in the first instance.
There are a lot of risks involved in using lemongrass essential oil around your dog, so the best option may be to dilute it heavily or not use it at all. A dog that occasionally wanders into a room with a diffuser should be fine, but there is much more risk if they spend a lot of time in the same space. If you are unsure, speak with a vet about your options and also see if there are any other essential oils that could work as an alternative.