Many pet owners are regularly looking for alternative medicines to pharmaceuticals and insecticides, which is evident in the discussion of more natural remedies like essential oils. Among the essential oils that are sometimes recommended for pets, peppermint oil is one such oil that is useful for treating fleas. Despite its popularity, peppermint oil does not appear to have much scientific research to support its use in animals or as a flea killer, and it can potentially be quite harmful to your pet.
What Is Peppermint Oil?
In the world of plants, Mentha x piperita, that is peppermint, is developed by crossing spearmint and watermint plants. Green-leaved and fragrant, it is an easy-to-grow plant with an aromatic scent. Peppermint is often described as having a peppery taste, and people widely use it for various health purposes, such as as a flavoring agent for foods and beverages.
Peppermint oil comes from the leaves of the Peppermint plant. Peppermint oil is an essential oil that’s very similar to lavender oil. There are differences between peppermint oil and peppermint extract. However, peppermint oil is a much more concentrated kind of oil. There are important components in peppermint oil called terpenes and flavonoids that are special components of the peppermint plant. In addition to these beneficial components, it may also be helpful for both people and pets to consume other plants that contain these components. Peppermint oil contains specific amounts of the terpenes found in peppermint, including menthol (21.68%), menthone (31.76%), menthofuran (7.08%), eucalyptol (4%), linalool (2.59%), limonene (0.6%), and a lot more, in lesser quantities.
Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Dogs?
In theory, peppermint oil is poisonous to cats and is also thought to cause problems for dogs. Even so, certain products designed for dogs contain peppermint extract or very small amounts of peppermint oil at safe levels, even though it is not recommended for children or pregnant women. As a general rule, these products are used to flavor or improve the digestion of food and are based mainly on studies conducted on rats. Peppermint oil has not been studied much scientifically regarding its safety when used in pets, so it is not typically recommended it should be used, especially at high concentrations, because there is very little information available.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, cats are particularly at risk from peppermint toxicity since their metabolizing processes may differ from those of dogs. The oil has been reported to cause severe skin irritation, liver and kidney failure, drooling, vomiting, tremors, seizures, difficulty walking and breathing, stomach ulcers, low body temperature, a low blood pressure, paralysis of the rear limbs, and even death in cats, depending on how they were handled. Even though dogs may not be as sensitive to peppermint oil as cats are, large amounts of concentrated peppermint oil presented to the canine could still prove hazardous to them.
Pets should never be given Peppermint oil by mouth, and cats especially do not respond well to this. Pets can experience a wide variety of problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, paralysis, and even kidney failure due to this reason.
Does Peppermint Oil Kill Fleas?
Studies have shown that peppermint oil is potentially effective in killing or repelling several insects, including mosquitoes, beetles, houseflies, midges, lice, cutworms, Argentine ants, whiteflies, aphids, and diamondback moths. It has also been proven that products containing peppermint oil alongside other essential oils can also kill fleas. Still, it is unknown if the essential peppermint oil caused it to work or if other essential oils contained in the product did.
The possibility of the oil killing fleas in large, concentrated amounts has been suggested by peppermint oil containing a small amount of linalool (2.59%) and limonene (0.6%) that are effective against fleas. However, this may not be as helpful as it sounds to pet owners since large quantities of peppermint oil can be dangerous to pets. If you give peppermint oil to your pet in an amount considered safe, it will not kill fleas, but if you give more peppermint oil to ensure your pet gets more of these ingredients, this can be dangerous for them. When other flea-killing options exist that are far safer to use than peppermint oil, it is not worth the risk of poisoning your pet with peppermint oil.
How Is Peppermint Oil Used?
Peppermint oil has been used as a topically applied, orally taken, and diffused oil. It is important to bear in mind that each of these delivery methods comes with its risks because there is no one method of delivery that is necessarily safer than another, especially for cats. There are three ways in which essential oils can cause issues: topical application can cause skin irritation, which can be absorbed into the body for more serious issues; diffused oils can cause respiratory distress; and oral application can result in organ failure, vomiting, diarrhea, and other similar problems.
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