Having a dog at your home comes with a lot of responsibilities as they tend to get into trouble every now and then.
They are curious creatures, and most of the time, they do something they should not, for instance, licking some castor oil.
Castor oil is a popular household item that is used for its medicinal properties, which help in treating many human ailments like constipation and skin diseases.
But what if your dog consumes or licks castor oil? Dogs consuming castor oil is never a good sign, and it causes adverse effects in them.
In this article, we will discuss in detail about castor oil, whether dogs should consume castor oil, its effects on dogs, what you should do if they lick castor oil, and many more.
Let us begin the read by knowing what castor oil is.
What is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is basically a vegetable oil that has been used to cure ailments since ancient times. It is made from the seeds of the castor bean plant. It contains a type of fatty acid known as ricinoleic acid, which includes an anti-inflammatory characteristic.
Castor oil was first used in ancient Egypt, and now humans use it to provide moisture to the skin or relief from arthritis pain or eye diseases. It is said to be useful in childbirth, and many use this as a laxative.
Castor oil is known to be toxic in many animals, including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and many other animals. Hence, it is recommended to keep castor oil away from such animals.
Can Dogs have Castor Oil?
Castor has different effects on humans and animals. While the FDA considers castor oil safe for dogs, it can have some adverse effects.
Castor oil can be used externally on dogs, as castor oil provides moisturizer to the skin and hair; it is used externally in dogs to soothe flea bites or allergies. It also helps in reducing irritation and itching in and around the allergic area.
Castor oil has inflammatory properties, which are used to heal minor wounds and injuries in dogs when applied externally.
But always consult a veterinarian before applying any amount of castor oil, as it may have side effects even if it is being applied externally. Castor oil is absorbed into the skin and may cause vomiting and loose bowel movements.
It is not highly toxic to dogs, but it is advised to keep castor oil away from dogs because if ingested in high amounts, it can cause trouble in them, starting from diarrhea, vomiting, gastrointestinal problems, and dehydration.
It may also cause electrolyte imbalances in dogs, which can be fatal if not addressed at the earliest.
Dogs should never be given castor oil orally, and always consult a veterinarian before you give or apply castor oil externally in dogs.
Possible Effects of Castor Oil on Dogs
Suppose your dog has consumed the slightest amount of castor oil. In that case, it probably won’t cause any severe health issues other than some loose bowel movements. Still, if your dog licks a high amount of castor oil, it may have some severe effects.
Let us look at some of the possible effects of castor oil on dogs.
1. Gastrointestinal Issues
Dogs may also suffer abdominal pain, but it is very rare. This can worsen the situation if your dog already has any other gastrointestinal issues.
As read above, castor oil can cause the body to throw up and even have diarrhea. And when the body is continuously releasing fluids and foods in the form of stools and vomiting, then it can lead to dehydration.
If your dog is feeling lethargic or tired easily, their eyes have sunken up, and their gums have dried, then it means they are dehydrated. You will see more of these in either puppies or aged dogs or dogs who already have any other medical condition, as their immunity is on the lower side.
Castor oil has fatty acids, and it being an oil is itself explanatory that it is high in fat, which creates a threat of pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis in dogs occurs when a dog consumes a high amount of fat and carbohydrates simultaneously. In this condition, the pancreas gets inflamed and causes pain.
If your dog is in the praying position more often, then this may mean they are suffering from pancreatitis.
What do I do if my Dog Licked Castor Oil?
Castor oil effects may be different for us and different for our four-legged friends. If your dog licked castor oil, it is your duty to take immediate action and waive any severe harm it can do to your pooch.
Let us see some immediate steps you can take to reduce the harmful effects of castor oil ingestion in dogs.
1. Remain Calm
The first thing you should do is remain calm, if you panic, your dog will start panicking, too. While remaining calm, get the castor oil out of your dog’s reach so that it won’t consume anymore during the rehabilitation.
2. Monitor your Dog’s Behavior
Start by monitoring your dog’s behavior and look for any signs of abnormalities. If they look in any kind of discomfort, be it in sitting, panting, vomiting, loose stools, or just lethargic, it’s a sign of castor oil poisoning.
3. Keep your Dog Hydrated
Try lifting up hydration by offering water. Drinking a lot of fresh water will help the body excrete all the castor oil in the body, which is causing adverse effects.
Drinking water will also help in keeping the body hydrated to fight any probable issues and will reduce the severity of dehydration.
4. Call a Veterinarian
If things go beyond your control, call the vet and inform them about the incident in detail like how much amount of castor oil was ingested by your dog, how long ago was it and what signs your dog is portraying, which will help them prepare the diagnosis at the time you arrive without wasting any time.
5. Don’t try Homemade Remedies
Do not try any homemade remedies or administer any medication without the consent of your veterinarian, as things can go sideways very quickly if done anything without a professional’s advice.
By closely following your dog’s behavior and monitoring their condition, you can surely lower the side effects of castor oil if ingested by your dog.
Can Activated Charcoal help a Dog that has Licked Castor Oil?
Yes, activated charcoal may help your dog reduce the absorption of castor oil but it should be noted that it does not neutralize any toxins from the body or the digestive system, it just reduces their absorption.
You can mix the activated charcoal with water and administer it from a syringe or by other means, but it should only be done as per the instructions of a veterinarian.
To maximize the effectiveness of the activated charcoal, it is recommended to use it within the first 60 minutes of castor oil ingestion in dogs. As charcoal only reduces the absorption of castor oil, if the ingestion is in high amounts, veterinary care is recommended.
In dogs with sensitive stomachs, charcoal may cause constipation. Hence, a veterinarian should decide the course of action in such cases for effective treatment and recovery.
How do I keep my Dog Away From Licking Castor Oil?
Castor oil, if ingested by dogs, can cause a lot of trouble for them as well as us. This is why it is important to keep castor oil away from dogs and prevent any licking or ingestion of any kind.
Below are some ways to keep your dog from licking castor oil.
1. Keep Castor Oil Safely
Keeping castor oil in a secure cabinet or storage area should be the first step toward prevention. Dogs are curious creatures and like to find new things and then check them by smelling and licking them.
2. Use Childproof Locks
If your dog has a never-giving-up attitude and likes to play and try new things, then try using childproof safeties on the cupboard to ensure your dog can’t open them.
3. Clean up Spills
Be vigilant about cleaning up any spills or drips of castor oil immediately. Dogs have remarkable smelling properties, and they can sense even the slightest of smells, so even small amounts on the floor can be tempting.
4. Dispose of Empty Bottles Properly
After using castor oil, dispose of the empty bottle in a secure trash can with a lid. Dogs can sometimes chew on empty containers and ingest residual oil.
5. Train them
Training your dog to respond to commands like “No” Stop” or “Leave it” can help your entire life. This will redirect their attention away from items you don’t want them to touch, including castor oil.
6. Supervise Your Dog
When working with or using castor oil, keep a close eye on your dog to ensure they don’t approach or lick any spilled oil.
Ans: There is not enough scientific evidence that proves castor oil shrinks tumors in dogs. A tumor is a serious medical condition, and it needs a medical process to treat, including surgery and chemotherapy, amongst others,
Ans: You should not give your dog any amount of castor oil orally as it may cause major health issues. However, as per a veterinarian’s consult, you can apply some amount of castor oil to dogs externally onto their skin, which will act as a skin moisturizer.
Ans: No, it is not at all advised to use castor oil for treating ear mites in dogs. Consult with a veterinarian before applying castor oil for any kind of treatment in dogs.
Humans have used castor oil for generations for its medical properties. Still, if your dog ingests castor oil, it may cause trouble for your dog. Castor oil ingestion causes vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration and may lead to abdominal pain.
You can take some preventative measures to stop your dog from licking castor oil, and if they do, take immediate action mentioned above to reduce the effects of castor oil in dogs.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.