Have you ever heard of pet owners using camphor products like Vicks Vaporub to train their pets or to deter them from digging or chewing?
Surprisingly, there are quite a few fur parents who use Vicks Vaporub for exactly that purpose, especially if they have a dog who’s a master digger or a dog that can’t seem to stop nibbling on furniture.
There are pros and extreme cons to using Vicks Vaporub to mark off the ‘No Dogs Allowed’ areas in your house.
Let’s look into why most vets and dog experts advise against using or even exposing your beloved pets to this common cold-curing menthol ointment.
What are the main ingredients in Vicks Vaporub?
As most people know, Vicks Vaporub is a camphor-based menthol topical ointment made for people to help relieve a number of non-serious ailments such as colds and a clogged nose, cough, and minor joint pains and muscle aches.
There are a lot of similar products to Vicks like Tiger Balm and Efficascent Oil, but Vicks is by far the most popular and the most accessible.
Vicks Vaporub’s main ingredients include camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. Minor ingredients include cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petroleum, thymol, and turpentine oil.
Note that all of these ingredients are perfectly safe to apply as an ointment for people but the real question is, is Vicks Vaporub safe for dogs?
Are They Harmful to Dogs?
Yes, Vicks Vaporub is toxic to dogs. There are very few things that are as toxic to dogs (and cats) as Vicks’ main ingredient, camphor.
The most common way for dogs to get camphor poisoning is if we apply Vicks or other similar products on ourselves and our pet inadvertently lick the same spot, then it could become a serious issue.
It is serious enough to warrant a trip to the vet or at least a phone call.
While the toxicity level of Vicks for dogs is listed as mild to moderate, the effects of camphor on our pets are more than enough to cause some concern.
Camphor poisoning signs and symptoms include local skin irritation, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death on rare occasions.
Is Vicks Bad for Dogs to Inhale?
Yes, even inhalation of camphor can be bad for your dogs and can affect their respiratory system. The good thing is that dogs will recognize the smell and find it repellent immediately.
They might become curious and try to sniff a container of Vicks Vaporub but as soon as that menthol scent hits their noses, they will back off right away, probably sneezing as they go. To say that dogs find this smell obnoxious is an understatement.
Can I Put Vicks on My Dogs for Fleas?
No, you cannot put Vicks on your dogs to help get rid of fleas. Topical application of Vicks (as well as ingestion and inhalation) can be toxic to your dogs.
The confusion lies in the fact that Vicks contains eucalyptus oil, an ingredient that is often used when creating a natural dog flea collar.
While eucalyptus oil is safe for dogs and is recommended by a lot of experts to help get rid of fleas, it is the high camphor content in Vicks that makes it highly toxic for your pets.
By placing Vicks on your dogs, you are risking a number of possible symptoms, including but not limited to skin irritation, vomiting, and even seizures.
If you are interested in using natural ingredients to help get rid of dog fleas, you can use eucalyptus oil (without the camphor), tea tree essential oil, lavender essential oil, or rose geranium essential oil.
You can put a few drops of these oils onto a rope collar or even a doggie bandanna to help keep fleas (and mosquitoes) away.
Can I Use Vicks To Stop My Dog from Chewing?
A lot of pet parents use Vicks Vaporub to stop their pets from chewing by rubbing the ointment onto all the usual places – table and chair legs and furniture edges. Some pet owners even put Vicks in their gardens, on the rocks, to dissuade their dogs from digging. The question is, is it safe for your pets?
Using Vicks for correcting your pet’s bad behavior is probably the most controversial and divisive question in the dog community. Dogs (and cats) do find the smell of Vicks and other camphor-based products highly repellent. They will most likely stay as far away from objects and areas in your house where you have applied the menthol ointment. That being said, accidents do happen.
If your dog can exhibit poisoning symptoms by inhaling too much Vicks fumes, imagine what could happen if they accidentally ingest the ointment.
Most dogs do go through a chewing stage, especially when they are still growing up. All puppies at the ‘toddler’ stage will experience teething and an intense need to chew so that they can relieve that itchy new teeth feeling. Almost all dogs grow out of it, however, and the best solution is often just getting your pet a safe chew toy.
If your dog continues their chewing obsession well past the puppy stage, then it could be a behavioral issue. Consult your vet for recommendations or consider looking into dog training classes.
Can I Use Vicks In My Humidifier For My Dog?
Absolutely not. Not only do dogs hate the smell of camphor-based products (it will probably drive them straight out of the room), inhaling camphor via the humidifier can also be very bad for them. It can also be very irritating for dogs who have sensitive dry eyes, giving them a burning sensation.
While Vicks humidifiers might work very well for unclogging noses for people, it is definitely something that your dog can enjoy with you.
Can I Put Vicks On My Male Dog’s Nose to Stop Him from Smelling Females in Heat?
While some breeders are known to recommend using Vicks Vaporub on the hindquarters of female dogs in heat to stop male dogs from picking up on their ‘in heat’ scent, there are actually inherent dangers to this practice.
Did you know that Vicks Vaporub is bad for children under two years old? Pediatricians often have to strongly remind parents that the menthol ointment is not indicated for young children, especially infants. In fact, there are cases where babies went into acute respiratory distress after Vicks was applied directly onto their noses. For children under two years old with still undeveloped lungs, the ointment can act as an irritant that can lead to severe mucus production and inflammation.
Knowing how bad Vicks can be for young children, imagine how sensitive dogs’ noses and respiratory systems are compared to humans, and you will understand why even just smelling Vicks poses a danger to our pets. Consider also that some camphor-poisoning effects for dogs include subtle symptoms such as weakness and nausea which means you could be causing your dog suffering without realizing it by exposing them to Vicks.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Vicks?
While having a dog consume a lot of camphor-laced products is rare, there is always the chance that your dog could be curious enough to give it a lick or even consume an entire bottle. If you see your dog eating menthol ointment, bring your pet immediately to the nearest veterinary clinic along with the bottle.
Immediate care is always recommended when it comes to Vicks ingestion or any similar menthol products with camphor. The absorption rate of this toxic product is very high on a dog’s skin and is even higher when ingested. Depending on how severe the signs of distress are, your vet could choose to keep your pet overnight for observation and care, or your vet could provide medication and ask you to continue observing from home.
While immediate treatment can prevent camphor poisoning from causing serious health issues, the recovery period of your dog could take days or even a couple of weeks. Your dog might be placed on a special diet and might be asked to continue taking medication, depending on the severity of the case. It is very likely that you and your dog will be asked to return for another check up to make sure that your beloved pet is in the clear.
The main takeaway of this article is that as fur parents, we should never underestimate the danger that Vicks and other camphor-based products poses for our dogs (and cats too). Just as we keep dangerous items away from children, we should also make sure that products like Vicks Vaporub are kept away from our fur babies, in places where there is zero chance of them grabbing it or accidentally eating it.
Also, keep in mind that not only is Vicks highly toxic to our pets, their absorption rate for the product is also very high. If you’re considering Vicks Vaporub as a solution to a doggie problem, we highly recommend that you consider other options that are safer and non-poisonous for your pet.