Is Citronella Safe For Dogs?
What Is Citronella?
The citronella plant is native to Southeast Asia, in countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar. Citronella looks and smells a lot like lemongrass but is slightly different. The plant is not as tall as lemongrass and is easy to grow and cultivate, and it is highly useful in plant form or as an essential oil.
The citronella plant produces a scent as a deterrent to potential attackers. It is often called the mosquito plant because it gives off a smell mosquitoes don't like, and it is effective in repelling mosquitoes in small areas.
The plant's essential oil is extracted using steam distillation as it is the best way to collect the various nutrients and chemicals that make it so medically and therapeutically beneficial. Citronella oil is included in a variety of cleaning products, detergents, deodorants, and beauty/cosmetics products, due to its antifungal and antibacterial qualities, as well as the large number of antioxidants it contains. It is also used as a mosquito repellent.
It is successfully used to keep pests and insects from coming too close to our homes and bodies. Many insecticides have harsh chemicals and potentially toxic substances in them. Citronella is a natural plant-based product, and when used in appropriate quantities, there are no known side effects. Furthermore, it uses water or vegetable oil as a carrier, unlike many commercial insecticides that use alcohol.
You can use citronella oil in the garden and areas your dog likes to dig to prevent this behavior. It works well, as it keeps your dog away from certain areas and is not harmful to your plants and may help them flourish. This will not address the cause of your dog's digging, but it will help save your garden while you address the other concerns.
What Is a Citronella Dog Collar?
The citronella bark collar works by emitting a strong scent, which acts as a deterrent for your dog. But how do they work? When your dog barks, the collar can pick up on the noise or vibration of its vocal cords. On detecting this, the collar releases a spray of citronella on your dog. Other bark collar sensors are sound-based, and the most expensive citronella bark collars integrate both sound and vibration sensors for more reliable and accurate bark detection.
Most anti-bark citronella collars come with a refillable cartridge that sits on your dog's collar. This is what sprays the citronella when your dog barks. Having a cartridge with high capacity makes it easier for you to ensure that your dog will be consistently distracted when it starts barking.
Your dog's collar can be remotely controlled to release citronella spray if you see that a fight may break out with another dog in a park. Note that the collar may not be waterproof, so think about your purchase if you live in a rainy climate as it may not be as effective. Also, be careful about the weight of the collar you are considering if you have a small dog. Make sure that the collar is the right one for your dog.
If you have used a citronella collar, your dog will understand what the collar is for. If you approach it with the collar where your dog can see it, it may run from you. The dislike of the collar can be useful if it means that your dog will stop the barking behavior, meaning you may not need to use it after the first few times.
A problem with the collars is that your dog may continue to bark even when the citronella is sprayed. That will go through the citronella stores quickly, and excessive amounts sprayed could be harmful to it. Pay attention, and if your dog is not scared of it and won't stop barking, consider another approach.
Remember, it is a natural function for dogs to bark, and they should be able to retain that function. For example, your dog may be barking excessively for a reason, and you will need to address the stress or anxiety they may have.
Think about other solutions, including distracting your pet with food reinforcement as soon as it heard a noise that made it bark, pre-empting the bark when possible, and rewarding an alternative behavior. For example, sitting quietly, and managing the situation by removing as many triggers as possible, such as blocking his view of passing people or dogs and keeping him indoors at certain busy times of the day.
Also, if a stranger approaches your house, you might be happy for your dog to bark to let you know. A dogs bark as a form of communication, and often a necessary form of it.
Citronella oil is popular with dog and cat owners. Citronella, whether burned as a candle, used in a pet shampoo or applied to your dog's collar, can help prevent ticks and fleas from attaching themselves to your dog. Your dog will not like it, at least not at first. However, if you are having issues with fleas and ticks, it may be worth it.
Applied to the fur in a diluted form, it is pretty safe and will not cause any medical issues with your dog, even if they lick it. You should seek advice from your vet before beginning any treatment on your dog and closely follow their instructions.
It may be a good idea to get your pet comfortable and accustomed to the presence of citronella, by first using it on yourself or burning it in a diffuser. When applying directly to your pet, dilute citronella with a suitable carrier such as olive oil, almond oil, or simply water. Pets are more liable to lick and ingest the oil. They are more likely to find the scent offensive and disquieting, rather than pleasant and soothing.
Citronella has a lovely lemony scent, and it can help cover up unwanted odors and keep your pet's skin clean and healthy. To use topically, apply the (heavily diluted) oil to a rag or paper towel, and proceed to rub it into your pet's coat. Avoid contact with any openings: eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and anus. Contact with such areas may cause an adverse reaction.
Is Citronella Toxic To Your Dog?
The scent doesn't harm your pets – it merely distracts and discourages it from continuing to bark. If your dog is high-strung or anxious, you should keep in mind that these collars do not address the root cause of the stress, and they will likely take their stress out in other ways.
Medically, there may be some concerns as well, though typically in such small amounts, they will be fine. Citronella is natural, but that does not mean it is always safe. Citronella, in large quantities, can kill humans, and in smaller quantities, it is dangerous to animals of all types.
A citronella collar is a better alternative than a shock collar which can be dangerous and have unintended psychological effects.
Give your pet a way to get away from the smell. They may find the scent too strong and need a place where they can breathe freely and get some fresh oxygen into their systems. In the first days of treating your dog or cat with any essential oils, keep your eyes and ears open for any unusual behavior.
Remember, your dog is a lot more susceptible to irritation since it has very different skin from yours. What you might find normal and soothing, your dog may find annoying and highly irritating. Keep in mind that just like humans, cats, and dogs of different species react differently to substances like essential oils. Just like with humans, certain precautions need to be taken when dealing with volatile compounds like citronella oil.
Citronella oil is very useful, but it doesn't come without its drawbacks. Lack of appetite, acute lethargy, and abnormal amounts of scratching could all be indicative of an issue. If you have a feeling, the oil is not agreeing with your pet, discontinue use and get in touch with your vet.
Citronella based training in some forms may be considered cruel and mean to your dog but does not pose any serious health risk provided you consider all of the above information. Ensure your dog is not exposed to too much and limit the amount that gets in its eyes and mouth.