Can You Use Vicks VapoRub For Dogs? (Exploring The Safety Concerns)


Vicks VapoRub is the most common and popular camphor-based topical ointment, formulated to give relief to human beings from colds and coughs, also use for minor joint and muscle aches. It was first introduced to the market in 1905 and produced by a family-owned company Richardson-Vicks.

Vicks VapoRub releases vapors of menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil, with some minor fumes of nutmeg oil, cedar-leaf oil, petroleum, thymol, and turpentine oil. All these ingredients are safe for humans to use. But is this ointment safe and useful for our pet dogs as well? Can dogs inhale or eat Vicks Vaporub?

Vicks VapoRub is typically considered to be very dangerous and can have toxic effects on canines. Dogs hate the scent of Vicks VapoRub due to its main pungent ingredient called camphor. 

Camphor can easily get absorbed across the skin and can cause dizziness, nausea, skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, depression, seizures, and in severe cases result in lung and kidney failure that can lead your pooch to death.

Can You Use Vicks VapoRub On Dogs? (Nose, Paw, And Body)

No! You cannot apply Vicks VapoRub on any part of a dog’s body. Most owners think that they can cure cough and stuffy noses of their pets by applying this topical ointment, but they are unaware that it is highly unsafe and risky to apply Vicks inside or on the nose, paws, and any other area of your pooch’s body.

Vicks VapoRub has a strong aroma that causes a tingling sensation in the nose and eyes, just because of the presence of camphor and menthol, etc. Both these chemicals react and become noxious for dogs. 

Canines have an incredible sense of smell with 220 million olfactory receptors (while human have only 5 million), so this sharp smell become annoying for them and make them depressed, they may feel suffocated and soon they will run away from the place where they can smell vapors of Vicks. 

That’s why most vets are against using or even exposing Vicks to dogs.

Is Vicks Safe For Dogs To Inhale?

It is not safe, it can make your pooch breathe difficult and it is not medically recommended for dogs to inhale or ingest VVR. The good news is that your pooch recognizes the pinching smell of menthol and shows an immediate repellent response.

Upon inhaling Vicks VapoRub, your canine may feel nauseous or start sneezing soon after the exposure. If they inhale too much of this salve, then they may suffer from nasal and respiratory problems, depression, weakness, and even pneumonia. 

Most owners think that putting Vicks directly into the humidifier is healthy for dogs, but it is still holding the strong aroma of camphor and menthol, which can leave your pooch with dry itchy eyes and a runny nose. 

Does Vicks Offer Any Benefits For Your Dog?

Yes, smart owners exactly know how and where to use VVR. This camphor-based ointment can be used to discourage dogs from doing something messy or wrong. Pet owners use Vicks to train their dogs.

Some dogs are stubborn diggers and create a huge lawn mess for their owners; others love to scratch out expensive furniture and young puppies chew and scratch everything like shoes, rugs, cushions, etc. Unfortunately, you cannot shift everything from your house.

So owners use to dab some Vicks VapoRub on small stones in the garden, legs of the furniture, and all other things that your puppy can approach to chew them.

Canines will immediately try to escape and stay away from the areas where you have applied this unpleasant menthol salve.

The video clip below shows a dog’s reaction to smelling vicks. Do not try this with your pooch at home.

But what if your pooch licks or accidentally ingest this toxic ointment? Keep on reading to know the answer.

Should I Put Vicks On My Dog For Fleas?

If you love your fido, then don’t even think of putting Vicks directly on its skin, just to get rid of fleas. Most pet parents get confused due to the ingredient of eucalyptus oil in VVR, which repels and kills fleas.

Eucalyptus oil is toxic to dogs and even worse when it gets mixed with other chemicals like camphor and menthol in Vicks. Camphor camphor that is readily absorbed by dog’s skin leading to poisoning. Vicks also contains other inactive ingredients.

No Vicks products including VapoSteam and VapoInhaler is safe for dog’s topical use or inhalation as they contain similar harmful ingredients just like in VapoRub.

So, while vicks may be effective in repelling flea, this benefits cannot be taken safely due to its high toxicity. Consider other methods of flea removal such as the spraying apple cider vinegar, use of tooth flea comb, flea shampoos and dog-safe essential oils.

Home Remedies For Nasal Decongestion In Dogs.

So, your pooch is having a stuffy nose, sneezing, lethargy, pawing his nose, and feeling difficulty breathing then these are the clear signs that he is going through nasal congestion. There can be several reasons behind nose clogging i.e. allergies, infections, and genetics. Opposing us, canines can’t use Vicks balm during cold, so here are some therapies you can use at home to soothe your pooch.

1. Humidifier

As a concerned parent, if your dog is suffering from a choked nose, it is important to make moisture in the air for easy breathing. A simple water mist created by a humidifier is the best way to keep the air humid around your pooch and makes inhaling easy for them.

2. Steam Bath

To deal with sinus infections in canines you should take a warm bath with them, so all the jammed mucus will drain out of the nose. In some cases dogs avoid getting exposed to water, so one can just fill the bathroom with hot steam and make your pooch stay inside the bathroom and inhale warm steam. 

3. Nasal Aspirators

Aspirators can be used for nasal de-congestions. These are tube-like suction devices that are quite helpful to remove excessive mucous from your pet’s nostrils. Simply Insert this tool inside the nostril and draw all the sticky fluid outside the nose.

4. Offer Warm Liquids

It is very important to offer energetic and cozy liquid meals to your lovely fido for quick recovery. Chicken soup and herbal tea can be given to overcome nasal blockage, as warm liquids can dilate sinuses and drain out all the mucous from the nose.

5. Massage

A gentle and soft rubbing of your pooch’s nose and the surrounding muscles can help your pet to inhale air, and clear the airways from gunk. 

6. Saline drops

Saline nose drops are quite famous to give relief against a clogged nose. You can buy a bottle of saline drops from any pet store and put 3 drops in each nostril 3 -4 times a day (according to vet prescription). 

Ways To Relieve Your Dog’s Pain Without Having To Use Vicks

Dogs cannot tell us about their pain rather they show some symptoms of pain through their body language and behavioral changes. Your pooch may look lazy, do excessive panting, and lick the painful site repeatedly, not ready to play or jump, yelp on touching the affected area. However, most specifically arthritis pains are very common and acute in dogs.

Here are some natural home-based remedies and medications are enlisted below that can provide comfort to your pooch in pain

1. Turmeric Paste

Turmeric is having anti-inflammatory qualities; it is safe for oral use in dogs and can cure joint pains effectively. It contains a compound called curcumin that can overcome diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and gastrointestinal issues in dogs. 

Most of the pet parents make a paste of turmeric with water, black pepper, coconut, and fish oil for better taste and easy digestion. 

2. Ginger

This root-based spice is an excellent source of antioxidants and helps reduce pain caused by inflammation in pets. In addition to being a pain reliever, ginger can be used to control nausea and vomiting in dogs.

One can make ginger tea or simply add ginger chunks to your fido’s food and enjoy the health benefits of ginger.  

4. Omega- 3 fatty acids

Fish oil supplements are of great benefit to your pooch and can be found on your kitchen’s shelf or fridge; they can prevent dogs from cold weather, and allergies and keep them active and energetic throughout the day. 

The presence of DHA and EPA in fish oil contains anti-inflammatory properties and protects your pooch from so many serious pains and can be a reason for quick recovery from fractures. 

Despite supplements, one can add Green Lipped Mussel to their pet’s diet that contains a heavy amount of Mega- 3 fatty acids.

5. Hot and Cold Packs

One of the most famous and ancient therapies for treating injury pains in a dog is by putting hot and cold packs on injury sites. If a dog is with broken bone then one can put a hot pack to soothe his pet and if the fracture is mild then a cold pack and work well.

6. Acupuncture 

Acupuncture is an old traditional Chinese therapy, use to reduce pain in both humans and dogs, in this therapy small needles can place at different body points of dogs. During this procedure, the brain releases its pain relief hormone called endorphins, which relaxes the body’s muscles, and increases the blood flow hence reducing pain.

A dog may feel fresh and relaxed during and after the session.   

7. Reduce Obesity

Obesity is itself a disease either for dogs or humans. If your pooch is eating heavy calories every day without any exercise, so you are offering him a lot of joint swellings with aches, stomach issues, and diabetes. 

A regular walk and healthy diet plan are as important for dogs as for human beings and help reduce joint pains and other health issues as well. 

My Dog Ate Vicks VapoRub

Normally, dogs dislike and fend off the scent of VVR. Dogs especially young puppies that are more curious and adventurous about everything and want to explore via chewing and licking, are more likely to expose to Vicks. 

Accidentally, if they lick or eat a small amount of Vicks VapoRub then the symptoms may be mild and not much harmful, but if they ingest a great amount of toxic ointment, then they may suffer from serious health risk issues. 

They may face nausea, skin irritation, weakness, dizziness, diarrhea, depression, seizures, and in severe cases, death may occur. One should immediately rush towards the vet clinic to save your pooch’s life. 

Depending upon the severity your vet may take him overnight for observation. It will require days and weeks for your pooch to get recover, with special diet plans.

Also Read: Is the Smell of Tea Tree Oil Bad for Dogs? (What Science Says)

Can Vicks Kill Dogs?

Yes, Vicks can put an end to dogs. However, there are very few death incidents that have been reported due to the swallowing of Vicks. While the components of Vicks are life-saving for humans, they are life-threatening for our four-legged companions. 

Too much exposure to camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil can cause severe damage to the respiratory tract of dogs and they may feel difficulty breathing with increased heart rates. Some cases have been reported where VVR can lead to kidney failure in pet dogs and ultimately death.

Whenever you observe continuous sneezing and the pungent smell of Vicks coming from your dog’s mouth or body, take him immediately to the vet.

Final Thoughts

The tingling vapors of Vicks VapoRub are perfectly safe for humans but are poisonous for dogs because this salve contains high contents of camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oil, which release highly pungent fumes that are not tolerable for pets and they immediately run away from the room.

One should not apply Vicks VapoRub directly to the nose, paws, or any other part of the skin because it may pose serious health issues to your canine. Upon inhaling, your pooch may suffer from dizziness, nausea, skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, depression, seizures, and in severe cases lung and kidney failure may lead them to death.

However, there are lots of other ways to deal with nasal decongestion instead using Vicks and putting your dog in danger. One can use alternatives such as humidifiers, aspirators, steam baths, cozy liquids, massage, and saline drops.  

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