For years, certain essential oils were considered safe for dogs and were often recommended for use in treating everything from stress and ear mite infestations to upper respiratory problems.
But recently, some studies have shown that essential oils can be toxic to dogs, whether taken internally, applied to their skin or simply inhaled. The liver is the organ most negatively affected, and unlike ours, dogs’ livers lack the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds found in essential oils.
A partial list of the essential oils to be avoided includes oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen and ylang ylang. If ingested or applied directly to the skin, these essential oils can damage your dog’s skin and even induce seizures.
Toxicity in dogs can either occur very quickly, following a single internal or external application or over a longer period of time -- through repeated or continuous inhalation of the essential oils. Either way, it can cause serious damage to the liver and, and in some instances, even lead to death. Should your dog accidentally ingest ANY oil, rush him to the vet immediately.
Aside from their toxic effects, the concentrated scent of essential oils can be very irritating, even overwhelming, to dogs because of their extremely sensitive noses. If you’re a dog owner who diffuses essential oils throughout your home, ensure there’s good ventilation for both your sakes, that you only diffuse small amounts for limited periods of time, and that your dog can retreat to a “scent-free” zone if the smell becomes overpowering.
Hydrosols, also known as “flower waters”, are often promoted as a more natural and safer alternative to essential oils. Less saturated or concentrated than essential oils, hydrosols are basically what remain after steam-distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers or herbs in water. With properties similar to essential oils, their aromas are often softer and subtler.
While hydrosols may be safer for use on human skin, they are still dangerous for dogs as the water can retain residual plant matter that can prove toxic if ingested or even inhaled. While some dogs can tolerate hydrosols, others are more sensitive to them. To be on the safe side, limit your dog’s access or exposure to them to minimize the risk of any health issues arising.
As dog owners, do you crave the feeling of your cherished canine companions’ kisses? Have you ever wondered why dogs lick faces? Should you worry about it or even stop it?
Did you know that human face licking evolved from wolf puppies’ instinctual habit of licking the mouths of adult dogs to prompt them to regurgitate partially digested food? This is the way they transitioned from suckling their mothers’ milk to eating partially digested food to eventually eating more solid food.
According to animal experts, one dog licking another dog’s face or a person’s face is
deemed normal social behavior that serves a variety of purposes. It can be an appeasing gesture that signals one dog’s deference to another or a signal to solicit more “social” information, and, where humans are concerned, it can be a sign of affection or an effort to elicit attention.
When a dog licks his doggy housemate’s face or other spots on his body, it’s usually part of their grooming ritual. If a dog’s unable to reach his owner’s face, he may, instead, lick their hand, arm or leg as a form of endearment. A dog may try to lick a stranger’s face as a way of appeasing them and ensuring that they won’t threaten or harm him. And when a dog licks a child’s face, it can be a sign of affection or simply a way of wiping off some residual food.
For most healthy children and adults, the saliva from a dog’s licks poses no risk to intact skin. For those with compromised immune systems, however, it can pose a risk of infection by allowing bacteria to enter their skin through an opened and untreated wound such as a bite or a cut.
The five most concerning forms of bacteria are:
1. Capnocytophaga Canimorsus: this organism is carried in a dog’s mouth and causes a serious sepsis infection in people.
2. Staphylococcus Aureu: when transferred to people, this staph infection can have life-threatening consequences.
3. Ringworm or hookworm: both can cause painful and itchy infections or inflammation and even intestinal bleeding depending on the point of entry.
4. E. coli: potentially fatal, symptoms range from diarrhea and cramping to nausea and, at its worst, intestinal bleeding.
5. Salmonella: painful and unpleasant, it can cause nausea and vomiting, intestinal cramping and diarrhea.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s kisses, don’t let him lick your mouth and ensure that any minor cuts and/or open wounds on your skin are properly covered. Overly cautious? Offer him the underside of your chin instead, then promptly wash your face or apply an antibacterial sanitizing spray or gel to your chin. If you prefer to have him lick your hands, wash your hands later and use that same spray or gel on them.