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Are Pet Shampoos That Contain d-Limonene Safe to Use?

dogDo you take your dog to the groomers to get doggie pampered? Laura Hughes, dog owner of a Pomeranian named Ginger, thought she was being a good dog owner by taking her dog to the groomers, but things went terrible wrong for poor Ginger while in the care of the groomers. Ginger suffered from a severe allergic reaction from the shampoo used and almost died. The source of her allergic reaction was found to be the chemical called d-Limonene used in household cleaners and pet shampoos as a fragrance.

What is D-Limonene?

D-Limonene is a liquid that is extracted from citrus fruits. When the citrus fruits are pressed the oil left behind from the peel produces technical grade d-Limonene that is used as an orange fragrance in dog shampoos. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of d-Limonene as a food additive and classifies it under its generally recognized safe list. However, testing done on lab rats, mice and rabbits shows evidence that when digested in amounts over 1000 mg/kg/day d-Limonene causes fatality.

Ginger’s allergic reaction caused her skin to turn red and inflamed. Her reaction was so severe that her lungs filled up with blood and the veterinarian did not think she would survive the night. Fortunately Ginger did survive and was put on ten medications to help her recover. Her skin turned black and fell off along with her hair. After six months, Ginger still was on medications to help her skin heal. How is it this product is FDA approved, when such violent reactions occur?

The FDA may have added d-Limonene to its safe to use list, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows data that questions whether the level of toxicity exposure received by pets is harmful. Data collected by the EPA shows that the dermal exposure to pets resulted in a margin of exposure (MOE) rate less than 300. In the study, researchers determined that margins of exposure of 300 or over are protective against short term exposure effects. The use of pet drips containing d-limonene registered much lower than the target 300 with only an 81 MOE.

Should dog owners use shampoos containing d-Limonene?

Not all dogs will suffer an allergic reaction to d-Limonene as poor Ginger did but do you wish to run the risk of exposing your dog to the same fate? Whenever exposing your dog to a new product, it is a good idea to research the ingredients beforehand to find out if there are reported side effects experienced with any of the chemicals. You, as a dog owner, can test a small patch of skin on your dog with the d-limonene shampoo to see how your dog’s skin responds. If the skin becomes inflamed and red, do not use that shampoo on your dog. Another option is to groom your dog with an anti-allergen pet shampoo. These hypoallergenic shampoos are specifically designed for dogs with sensitive skin and do not harm your dogs.

If you plan to bring your dog to the groomers, double check with the groomers beforehand on what products they plan use on your dog. If they are using questionable products such as shampoos that contain d-Limonene, use a different groomer or ask that they switch to your anti-allergen shampoo.


“D-Limonene (CASRN 5989-27-5)


US EPA.” EPA. December 1, 1993. Accessed August 11, 2014.

Hughes, Laura. “DANGEROUS PET PRODUCT CHEMICAL!” DogHeirs. February 19, 2013. Accessed August 11, 2014.

By | 2017-07-21T16:01:14+00:00 August 11th, 2014|Allergies, Pet Owners|0 Comments

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