Turpentine is an essential oil, a mixture of pinenes, camphenes and other turpenes,
derived from pine trees. It should not be confused with turpentine substitute (White
spirit) which is commonly used as a paint thinner.
Animals most affected
accidental ingestion (by dogs) of the solvent, of the oil itself, of waxes and
varnishes in which turpentine has been used as the solvent or of turpentine-containing
liniments and liquid embrocations;
accidental inhalation of the vapours;
dermal contact when turpentine is used inappropriately to remove paint splashes
or petrol stains from the coats of animals; this mis-use is often compounded
by vigorous rubbing or brushing of the fur or skin;
inhalation of the vapours when animals are shut up in confined areas where such
products are stored.
Highly irritant substance with a narcotic action. Toxic doses not known.
gastrointestinal: nausea, severe protracted vomiting, colic, diarrhoea;
neurological effects: hyperexcitability, ataxia, convulsions (most marked in
respiratory effects: dyspnoea, coughing (due to drying up of the bronchial secretions),
renal effects: oliguria, albuminuria, haematuria;
frequently death within several hours to several days post-exposure.
(Especially if there has been rubbing or brushing of the animal's coat):
itching, skin irritation;
general effects: very similar to the effects following ingestion, often extremely
serious, resulting in death (in cats).
immediate effects, acting directly on the respiratory system: choking, suffocation,
paroxysmal coughing, pronounced dyspnoea, respiratory distress;
Variable according to the route of exposure:
desquamation and oedema of the skin;
No antidote. Symptomatic and supportive care only; attempt to eliminate the compound.
gastric lavage (extremely controversial);
oral sodium bicarbonate, 100 mg/kg day;
adsorbents (activated vegetabje cha coal).In all cases
In all cases
Three dogs were discovered in a room by their owner. They were restless and had a
staggering gait. A bottle of turpentine oil had fallen down and broken open. Clinical
examination indicated that there was no pulmonary involvement and it appeared that
none of the liquid had been swallowed. The animals were observed for some time and
made a rapid recovery.
A dog had swallowed a sponge soaked in turpentine oil. He presented with trembling
and ataxia. The animal had vomited prior to arrival at the surgery and had a few
convulsions. Severe dyspnoea completed the clinical picture. Gastrointestinal demulcents
and antibiotics were prescribed. The animal made a full recovery in about a week.