I’ve been using essential oils for over 10 years and never really thought about which oils were bad for my dog.
I diffuse essential oils all the time and my furry friend, Ruthie (pictured above), has never had a reaction.
But I decided it was time to do a little digging to see what oils are bad for dogs and which ones are safe.
After all, no pet owner wants to hurt their dog!
This is not exhaustive and remember if you have any concerns please contact a holistic vet who should have training on which essential oils are safe to use.
I’ve included some essential oil recipes and how to recognize and respond to any adverse reactions your dog might have.
Essential Oil Basics
Just as a review, essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts, obtained primarily through distillation or cold-pressing methods.
Packed with natural chemical compounds, each oil possesses unique therapeutic properties. Essential oils have hundreds of uses, from reducing stress to healing chest & nasal congestion.
Despite the health benefits for humans, there are only a handful of essential oils that are safe to use for and around dogs.
And as a pet parent, you have the responsibility to understand the basics of essential oils before safely adding them into your dog’s environment.
These oils can be a natural alternative to certain pet care products, but it’s crucial to know which are safe and how to use them appropriately.
The Use Of Essential Oils In Veterinary Aromatherapy
Essential oils have been used for centuries on dogs to heal & improve their overall health, specifically to relieve stress, boost immune systems, aid digestion, and strengthen bones and joints.
They aren’t considered a replacement for veterinary care but aromatherapy can be used to address a range of dog-specific health concerns, especially if traditional care hasn’t yielded any results.
Because of their antibacterial properties, they’ve been used to combat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains in animals.
Another example is lavender oil, which has been shown to induce more frequent periods of rest while also reducing barking, according to a 2005 study.
But given the sensitivity of dogs’ olfactory systems (sense of smell), you must know which essential oils are safe for your four-legged companions and how to use them correctly.
Which Essential Oils Are Bad For Dogs
These are some of the essential oils that may be toxic to dogs.
Again, there are hundreds of oils so before using any that aren’t in this post, check with your vet to see if it is safe for your pet.
For instance, according to this study, a natural flea product containing essential oils was found not to be safe for pets.
Keep reading past this list to learn which essential oils are safe for your dog.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil) is one of the most popular EOs for humans, because of its antimicrobial properties.
But unfortunately, it can be incredibly harmful to dogs, triggering symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, skin irritation, and in severe cases, seizures.
It’s strongly advised to avoid using this oil on or around your dog. If you plan to diffuse it or apply it topically for your own health, make sure to isolate yourself from your dog for at least 60 minutes, preferably in a closed room.
If exposure does occur, immediate veterinary attention is needed.
2. Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon oil is known to cause skin irritation, stomach problems, and changes in heart rate in dogs, meaning you absolutely need to avoid using it on or around dogs.
Symptoms of cinnamon oil toxicity can range from redness and burns on the skin to vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
Remember, the appealing scent to humans doesn’t equate to safety for our canine friends.
3. Pennyroyal Essential Oil
Pennyroyal oil is hailed for its insect-repelling properties, though it’s unsafe for use around dogs & other pets.
It can cause extreme liver damage & even death in some cases, and toxicity symptoms include vomiting, difficulty breathing, and seizures.
If your pet has been exposed to Pennyroyal oil, seek immediate veterinary assistance.
4. Clove Oil
Clove oil is potent and contains a high concentration of eugenol.
Dogs are more sensitive to eugenol than humans, and it can cause liver damage, respiratory issues, and other adverse effects if ingested or inhaled in excessive amounts.
Other essential oils to avoid around dogs:
- Sweet birch
If there is a specific oil not listed that you are concerned about see if the plant is listed on the ASPCA website.
Essential Oils That Are Safe for Dogs
As I said, not all essential oils are safe for dogs but there are some that can be used on or around your dog without worries.
You always want to be sure you use only use pure essential oils that do not contain any additives or fragrances.
My favorite brand is Simply Earth Essential Oils but there are many pure brands to choose from.
The following essential oils are generally safe for your dog.
1. Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile oil is known for its calming properties and can be a beneficial addition to your dog’s care routine.
Derived from the chamomile flower, this essential oil helps soothe anxiety & promote quality sleep.
Once diluted, you can apply it topically or diffuse it in the home to create a peaceful environment, which you’ll also benefit from!
When applying topically, avoid placing it around your dog’s eyes or nose as this could trigger a reaction.
2. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is another soothing oil that can help dogs who experience anxiety and/or depression.
This can come in handy during thunderstorms, large gatherings, fireworks, and even trips to the vet when their stress levels are elevated.
Additionally, it can help relieve minor skin irritations due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Again, make sure to dilute it (1 drop EO to 50 drops carrier oil) before using, and never apply it near your dog’s eyes, ears, or nose.
3. Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense oil has a number of health benefits for both humans & animals but is chiefly used to strengthen the immune system, improving your dog’s ability to battle illnesses, heal cuts, and remain overall quite healthy.
Frankincense can also help reduce skin & joint inflammation, making it a top choice for older dogs.
Again, it should be diluted (1 part EO to 50 parts carrier oil). Monitor your dog’s reaction and immediately stop use if any adverse effects are observed.
4. Cardamom Essential Oil
Cardamom is another versatile essential oil that’s safe for dogs and is especially effective for addressing digestive concerns.
Known for its ability to soothe upset stomachs, cardamom can relieve symptoms like indigestion and nausea in dogs; it also has antibacterial properties.
More potent than most oils, it needs to be diluted at a 1:100 ratio before applying topically or diffusing into your dog’s environment.
Make sure to monitor your dog for the first 30 minutes and watch for any adverse reactions.
5. Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger oil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that can relieve arthritis discomfort and pain associated with sprains, tears, or breaks in their legs.
For older dogs, it can help them lead more active & mobile lives, which is paramount to their mental health as they age.
Ginger has a number of digestive health benefits as well, known to ease upset stomachs and reduce bloating.
Dilute at a 1:50 ratio before using and monitor your dog closely after administering.
Other essential oils that are safe for most dogs:
- Angelica Root
- Black Pepper
- Ylang Ylang (not safe for ingestion)
Is Eucalyptus Safe For Dogs?
After reading up on these oils I realized that some are common plants or decorations many of us have in our homes.
For instance, according to the ASPCA, eucalyptus is highly toxic to dogs.
So, that would lead me to believe that eucalyptus oil would be, too.
With that said, we diffuse eucalyptus in our home all the time, especially during the winter and we’ve never noticed our dog have issues.
I think the issue comes if your dog ingests the eucalyptus oil just like if he was to eat the plant.
Is Peppermint Oil Safe For Dogs?
Again, I’ve diffused peppermint oil in our house and our dog hasn’t had a problem however since it is “hot” oil and very irritating be very careful that your dog does not ingest it or get it on their skin unless it has been diluted.
Peppermint oil is often used for dogs in dental products and natural flea-repelling properties peppermint.
If you plan to buy any of these products just be sure high-quality sources are used and come from a reputable company.
Often, these products don’t contain enough EO to hurt your dog and since they are made specifically for animals they will be safe.
Is Rosemary Bad For Dogs?
Rosemary extract is sometimes added to many pet foods but that is different than using rosemary essential oil with your dog.
As with all oils, you should let your dog sniff it and see how they respond.
According to most websites about dogs, Rosemary essential oil can be used safely to help stimulate healthy hair and repel bugs.
Are Citrus Essential Oils Bad For Dogs?
Yes, citrus essential oils can be potentially harmful to dogs if used inappropriately.
Citrus essential oils, such as orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime, contain compounds like limonene and linalool, which can be irritating to dogs.
These compounds can cause skin irritation, allergies, or sensitivities when applied topically or ingested in large amounts.
When using citrus essential oils around dogs, it’s a good idea to exercise caution and proper dilution.
It’s generally recommended to avoid using citrus oils directly on a dog’s skin unless under the guidance of a veterinarian or a professional aromatherapist experienced in working with animals.
Additionally, avoid allowing dogs to ingest concentrated citrus oils.
If you want to use a diffuser with citrus essential oils, make sure it is a pet-safe diffuser and that the area is well-ventilated.
Monitor your dog’s behavior and ensure they have the option to move away from the area if they show any signs of discomfort or sensitivity.
While some dogs may tolerate citrus oils well, it’s important to assess your individual dog’s sensitivity and watch them carefully.
What Essential Oils Are Bad To Diffuse Around Dogs?
Be careful diffusing any oils that are listed as bad for dogs.
Usually, the oils are bad for dogs if they are ingested and not generally an issue when a few drops are diffused in water but always be watchful when diffusing oils to see how your dog reacts.
What Are Pet Safe Diffusers?
A pet-safe diffuser refers to a diffuser that is specifically designed and recommended for use around pets, including dogs.
These diffusers are designed to disperse essential oils in a safe and controlled manner, minimizing any potential risks or adverse effects on pets.
Here are some characteristics of a pet-safe diffuser:
- Cool Mist Diffusion: A pet-safe diffuser typically utilizes cool mist technology, which means it does not heat the essential oils. Heating essential oils can alter their composition and potentially release harmful compounds into the air.
- Ultrasonic Operation: Pet-safe diffusers often employ ultrasonic technology to break down the essential oils into micro-particles that are then dispersed into the air. This method helps maintain the integrity and therapeutic properties of the essential oils.
- Timer and Auto-Shutoff: A pet-safe diffuser usually comes with timer settings, allowing you to control the duration of diffusion. Additionally, many models have an auto-shutoff feature that turns off the diffuser after a certain period or when the water reservoir is empty, promoting safety and preventing overexposure.
- Wide Coverage and Adjustable Mist Settings: Pet-safe diffusers are typically designed to cover a suitable range of room sizes. They often offer adjustable mist settings, allowing you to control the intensity of diffusion according to your needs.
- Easy to Clean: A pet-safe diffuser is designed with easy maintenance in mind, typically featuring detachable parts for easy cleaning. Regular cleaning helps prevent the buildup of oils and residue, ensuring the diffuser continues to function properly.
Are Reed Diffusers Safe To Use Around Dogs?
Reed diffusers can pose potential risks when used around dogs due to several factors:
- Essential Oil Concentration: Reed diffusers typically use a mixture of essential oils and carrier oil or alcohol to create the fragrance. The concentration of essential oils in reed diffusers can be higher compared to other diffusing methods. This can result in a more potent and concentrated scent, which may overwhelm a dog’s sensitive sense of smell.
- Ingestion Risk: Dogs are naturally curious, and they may investigate or accidentally knock over reed diffusers. If a dog ingests the liquid from a reed diffuser the alcohol or other solvents used in the diffuser mixture may be harmful to your dog.
- Toxicity of Essential Oils: Some essential oils used in reed diffusers can be toxic to dogs. Certain oils contain compounds that are known to be harmful or irritating to dogs, even in small amounts.
- Allergies and Sensitivities: Dogs can develop allergies or sensitivities to certain fragrances or substances found in reed diffusers. They may exhibit symptoms like skin irritation, sneezing, coughing, or respiratory distress if exposed to allergens or irritants emitted by the diffuser.
To ensure the safety of your dog, it’s generally recommended to avoid using reed diffusers in areas accessible to your pet. Instead, consider using a pet-friendly essential oil diffuser instead.
If you do decide to use a reed diffuser, make sure it is placed in a location that is completely inaccessible to your dog, ensuring there is no chance of accidental ingestion or exposure.
Symptoms Of Essential Oil Poisoning In Dogs
It is imperative that you closely monitor your dog after using essential oils, especially if it’s their first time being exposed to a new oil or dosage.
They’re incapable of communicating their discomfort, so watch out for the following signs:
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty walking
- Changes in behavior
- Skin reactions like redness, itching, or burning
If the oil was diffused and your pet shows signs of discomfort or restlessness, they may try to exit the room, which you should take as a sign not to diffuse that particular oil around them in the future.
In case of any adverse reaction, discontinue the use of the essential oil immediately and seek veterinary help.
You can also contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435
Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures In Dogs?
As noted above some oils are considered more toxic than others especially when ingested.
Keep oils like eucalyptus, tea tree, camphor, clove, and wintergreen away from your dog in a closed container so they have no chance of ingesting it.
If you use these oils in a diffuser be sure to keep the diffuser in a spot where your dog can tip it over and accidentally drink from it.
How To Use Essential Oils With Your Dog
When it comes to safely using essential oils with dogs, there are several things you must take into consideration so that you don’t cause any harm to your pet.
With such a sensitive sense of smell, dogs don’t need as high of a concentration as humans do to reap the benefits of aromatherapy.
As such, you should reduce the frequency of use and always start with small dosages or patch testing before progressing with the application.
Reminder: Only use pure essential oils that do not contain any additives or fragrances. My favorite brand is Simply Earth Essential Oils but there are many brands to choose from.
- In a diffuser: Use a pet-safe essential oil diffuser to disperse tiny oil droplets oils in the air. This can create a soothing atmosphere and help promote relaxation for your dog.
- Topical application: Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil or olive oil) before applying them topically to your dog. This can be done by mixing a few drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil. Apply the mixture to specific areas like the back of the neck or paws. This method can help address specific issues like skin irritations or promote a sense of calm.
- As a massage oil: Mix a few drops of diluted essential oil with a carrier oil and use it for gentle massages on your dog. This can help relieve muscle tension, promote relaxation, and enhance the bonding experience between you and your pet.
- On bedding: Add a few drops of a dog-safe essential oil to your dog’s bedding or blankets to create a calming and soothing environment for them.
- As a spray: Create a diluted spray by combining water, a few drops of essential oil, and a natural emulsifier like witch hazel or vegetable glycerin. Use this fabric spray to mist your dog’s bedding, crate, or the air around them.
Essential Oils Made For Dogs
There are a few companies that have essential oil blends and specific essential oils just for dogs.
You might find these products as an alternative medicine for special skin issues, separation anxiety, and tick prevention for your pup.
- De-Stress Dog Perfume
- Flea & Tick Natural Repellent by Isabella’s
- Dog Massage Oil For Skin and Coat by Isabella’s
Essential Oils For Ants Safe For Dogs
To make an easy homemade ant killer safe for pets simply add a few drops of cedarwood oil to cotton balls and place them at the entry points of your house.
You can also diffuse cedarwood essential oil to treat the infested area.
Related: DIY Insect Repellant Recipes
Diffusing Essential Oils Around Dogs
Diffusing essential oils around dogs is generally safe when you use the essential oils carefully where your dog can’t spill the diffuser.
Start slowly when introducing these recipes to your dog.
Let them smell the combination of oils before using this recipe to make sure they don’t react negatively.
Anti-Anxiety Diffuser Blend
Calm their nervous system with this diffuser blend by Simply Earth.
- 2 Drops Peace Quiet Essential Oil (get it here)
- 1 Drop Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Calm Dog Diffuser Blend
This blend will have a calming effect on dog parents, too!
- 1 Drop Lavender Essential Oil
- 1 Drop Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 1 Drop Vetiver Essential Oil
Calming Diffuser Blend
- 2 Drops Lavender Essential oil
- 2 Drops Roman Chamomile Essential oil
- 2 Drops Frankincense Essential oil
DIY Dog Odor Eliminator Room Spray Recipe
Combine oils in a 2 oz spray bottle.
- Distilled Water
- 10 Drops Ginger Essential Oil
- 20 Drops Peace and Quiet Essential Oil (get it here)
DIY Itchy Dog Shampoo Recipe
This recipe was recommended by Veterinarysecrets.com
- 350 ml water
- 1 tbsp Castile soap
- 2 Drops Lavender essential oil
- 2 Drops Peppermint essential oil
- 2 Drops Eucalyptus essential oil
- 2 Drops Rosemary essential oil
1. Mix all ingredients together in a jar before pouring into a bottle.
2. Shake the bottle each time you use the shampoo.
3. Lather well on your dog when bathing and rinse well.
Books About Essential Oils For Dogs
I found several books and additional literature if you want to research more about how to use essential oils for your dog or pets.
- Essential Oils For Dogs by Mary Jones
- Essential Oils For Dogs by Miranda Ross
- The Animal Aromatics Workbook by Caroline Ingraham
- The Aromatic Dog by Nayana Morag
- Toxic and Safe Foods For Pets Refrigerator Magnet
Video From Dogs Naturally Magazine
This is a great video that includes even more information about essential oils for your dog.
Navigating the world of essential oils can be challenging, especially when considering the well-being of your canine.
But you have a responsibility to your four-legged friend to help them, just as they play a role in improving yours.
And with the right oils; safe application methods, these natural extracts can be safely integrated into your & your dog’s life without negative effects.
Instead, your pet will experience stress relief, improved digestion, and enhanced skin health.
It’s essential to remember that the same oils which are safe for humans may not always be safe for dogs and application methods matter.
Always monitor your pet for any adverse reactions to ensure their comfort and safety making sure to call the pet poison helpline at 888-426-4435 or a holistic veterinarian for help.
With the right knowledge and care, essential oils can contribute positively to your dog’s health and happiness.