Is Witch Hazel Poisonous to Dogs?

by Elizabeth Muirhead
Witch hazel is safe for your dog when used topically.

Witch hazel is safe for your dog when used topically.

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Witch hazel can be toxic to dogs in any form. Astringent toxicity depends on the formulation. The plant -- including teas and tinctures made from witch hazel -- can also pose a problem for your dog. Witch hazel has beneficial effects, which can make it an important component of Scratchy’s care.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel contains tannins and other phenol-based acids localized in bark, leaves and twigs. Phenolic acids and tannins are corrosive and can be highly toxic, especially if a large quantity is consumed. After Scratchy eats witch hazel, he may have vomiting or diarrhea. Witch hazel ingestion can also result in metabolic problems, including kidney or liver failure.

Topical Witch Hazel

According to the Whole Dog Journal, witch hazel tightens skin, which reduces inflammation. This mechanism helps relieve discomfort from insect bites and hot spots. Isopropyl alcohol, an extract component, is toxic if your dog eats or inhales a large quantity of it. Use only small amounts of witch hazel on Scratchy’s skin -- gently dabbing it on the affected region -- to limit risk of toxic exposure. Isopropyl alcohol can cause vomiting, depression and coma in pets, which can make it an emergency. Ethanol and glycerin formulations are less likely to cause problems but may lead to vomiting and depression, depending on the quantity ingested. If your dog ingests the contents of a bottle, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.

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