A few people asked me recently about which essential oils are safe or toxic around their dogs. Since a dog is a man’s best friend, you definitely don’t want to harm your best friend!
If you use essential oils, you’ll want to protect your best friend from any harm that could arise from using oils in potentially unsafe ways.
This post will help you become aware of which essential oils are toxic to dogs and suggest some oils that are safe for them.
Dogs are Sensitive
I bet you’ve seen some movies where a heroic dog tracks down a missing kid or finds drugs in a suitcase at the airport, thanks to the dog’s keen sense of smell.
While humans have six million olfactory receptors, dogs supposedly have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. And it’s possible they can smell somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than us mere mortals!
Essential oils need to be used with caution around dogs because dogs are much more sensitive to scent and to essential oils than humans.
According to Pet MD, there’s a lack of scientific research studying the effects of specific essential oils on cats and dogs.
Additionally, to date, Pet MD reports that there are no studies specifically testing pure essential oils on flea and tick infestations for dogs.
There’s a large number of products for dogs that contain some concentration of essential oil.
However, according to the American Kennel Club, most cases of toxicity in dogs occurred when natural flea and tick repellents containing certain essential oils were used (or misused).
A 2012 study described adverse reactions from natural flea products containing essential oils:
“Dogs and cats can experience significant adverse effects when exposed to plant-derived flea preventatives even when used according to label directions. The number of reports of exposure in cats was higher than dogs, but the frequency of reported adverse effects was similar between the 2 species. Agitation and hypersalivation were common in cats, whereas lethargy and vomiting were common in dogs.”Genovese, McLean, & Khan
15 Essential Oils that are Toxic to Dogs
The following is a list of the most common essential oil toxicities:
- Tea tree oil–In high concentrations tea tree essential oil (aka melaleuca) can cause adverse effects; however, shampoos containing low concentrations are okay.
- Pennyroyal (aka squawmint)–This oil is sometimes used in products to treat fleas.
- WIntergreen Oil–This oil contains methyl salicylates, also commonly known as aspirin.
- Pine Oils–These oils are sometimes used in cleaning products.
Additional essential oils that are unsafe for dogs:
- Citrus–includes lemon and orange oils
- Sweet Birch
- Ylang Ylang
- Thyme (white, red)
*Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of essential oils that are toxic to dogs. If you’re unsure whether an oil is safe to use around your dog, consult your veterinarian.
Symptoms of Harm or Toxicity
Whether you’re using essential oil products on yourself or for your dog, keep in mind that any oil can be harmful if it’s not properly diluted or used incorrectly.
In its pure, undiluted and concentrated form, essential oils can cause harmful reactions for animals, just like it can cause reactions in humans.
When using products containing essential oil, a few factors determine its effect on your dog. These include the type of oil, concentration level of the oil, and additional ingredients mixed with the oils which can cause varying reactions.
Topical or oral exposure can cause any of the following reactions:
- Skin irritation–e.g. itchiness, burning, sloughing
- Respiratory irritation–e.g. panting, coughing, wheezing. If your dog has underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma or allergies, certain essential oils can also exacerbate those conditions.
- GI upset–e.g. vomiting, diarrhea
- Other potentially severe, less common symptoms also include gait unsteadiness, depression, lethargy, weakness, ulcers, hypothermia, rear leg paralysis, seizures,
In rare cases, if the oil is absorbed into the bloodstream, liver and kidney damage can occur.
Essential Oils Safe for Dogs
For those who plan to use essential oils safely around their dogs or are looking for products containing safe oils, the following is a list of oils that are generally considered safe to use around dogs.
- Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)–Should avoid with pregnant dogs
- Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica or Juniperus virginiana)
- Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita)–aka blue chamomile
- Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile)
- Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)–Should avoid with pregnant dogs
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Marjoram, Sweet (Origanum marjorana)
- Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
- Ravensare aromatica (Cinnamonum camphora)
- Rose (Rosa damascena)
- Thyme linalool (Thyme vulgaris)
- Valerian (Valerian officinalis)
Eucalyptus and Peppermint
There’s a lot of conflicting information about eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils.
If you scour the internet, you’ll often find both oils to be on the safe or dangerous lists, depending on the source of information.
According to Dr. Callum Turner, DVM, eucalyptus can be considered toxic if ingested and used topically (on the skin), whether it’s directly applied or diluted.
If used in a diffuser, extreme caution should be used (see diffuser tips below).
Another oil that appears controversial for use around dogs is peppermint essential oil.
Certified aromatherapists are more likely to place it on their “safe” list, while animal hospitals seem more likely to place it on the “unsafe” list.
I kept peppermint essential oil on the “unsafe” list in this post because a number of veterinarians place it in that category.
However, I do want to link to this article that examines the issue and may provide the reasoning behind the inclusion of peppermint in the “safe” category on other lists around the internet.
The article advises many safety precautions and promotes careful, cautious use to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of peppermint essential oil.
Can you diffuse essential oils around dogs?
We all want to diffuse our favorite oils, but is it safe for your dog?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)specifically addressed this question, stating:
“Using an oil diffuser for a short time period in a secured area— one that your dog or cat cannot access—is not likely to be an issue.”Aspca animal poison control center
The APCC also advises to make sure the area is secure so that your dog can’t knock over the diffuser, lick it, or drink it.
Additionally, the room should be well ventilated and have an exit to allow your dog to go into a different area or room in your home..
However, if your dog has breathing problems due to underlying health conditions, allergies or asthma, you may want to avoid using diffusers.
Also, be mindful that dogs that walk through oils that are being diffused can have oil land on their fur and may lick their coat, causing unsafe oral ingestion.
Tips to keep your dog safe around essential oils
- Always dilute oils! Avoid high concentrations of the oil.
- Examine the labels of your dog products containing any essential oils to ensure they are formulated specifically for dogs. Some products may contain an oil on the unsafe list but have proper dilution with very low concentration which may then make it safe for use.
- Consider avoiding diffuser use if your dog has an underlying medical condition, especially if it’s respiratory in nature.
- Secure all diffusers. Make sure that your dog can’t knock any over or accidentally lick it or ingest oils from it.
- If diffusing, allow your dog to leave the area–don’t shut the dog in an enclosed space with the diffuser without a way out. Make sure the area is well-ventilated.
- Observe your dog’s behaviors–does he/she show displeasure or act weird after an initial exposure? Leave the room immediately? Show any symptoms, even mild, of possible harm or toxicity?
In brief, we all want to keep our little furry best friends safe, so it’s important to take precautions when using essential oils. Consult your vet if you’re unsure whether an oil is potentially dangerous to your dog.
You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)-426-4435 or the Pet Poisen Helpline at (855) 764-7661 immediately if your dog has ingested essential oils, or if you have concerns about exposure to essential oils. Both lines are available 24/7.
Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to dogs. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.What scents of essential oils are bad for dogs? ›
Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are straight up toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin, used in diffusers or licked up in the case of a spill.What essential oils are totally safe for dogs? ›
- Lavender Oil. Known for its calming effect, lavender oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils for humans. ...
- Frankincense Oil. ...
- Chamomile Oil. ...
- Cedarwood Oil. ...
- Frankincense Oil. ...
- Helichrysum Oil. ...
- Fennel Oil.
According to APCC, not necessarily. Using an oil diffuser for a short time period in a secured area—one that your dog or cat cannot access—is not likely to be an issue. However, if your pet has a history of breathing problems, it may be best to avoid using one altogether.What happens if dogs smell peppermint oil? ›
Key takeaway. Peppermint oil is toxic to dogs and can cause mild to severe symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and even lethargy.Can I diffuse lavender around my dog? ›
However, some scents are safer than others to diffuse. For example, lavender essential oil, orange essential oil, and lemon essential oil are considered relatively safe to diffuse around pets, but you should monitor your pet when diffusing oils in your home. Keep your diffuser up high where your dog can't get to it.What oils are safe to diffuse with dogs? ›
- Lavender oil.
Inhalation of essential oils is a problem for dogs and other pets. Some of these oils are irritants to the lungs and inhalation can also lead to systemic effects of toxicity in some cases. If a dog gets oil in their airway, this can also cause serious irritation and disease to the lungs.What Bath and Body Works scents are bad for dogs? ›
Most popular essential oils (including eucalyptus, tea tree, citrus oils, pine, peppermint, etc) are poisonous to dogs in moderate to large doses. All of Bath & Body Works' Wallflower scents contain essential oils, which are then sprayed into the air where they an easily be inhaled by your dog.Can I clean with essential oils if I have a dog? ›
Follow these pet safety tips when cleaning your home with essential oils: Never apply essential oils directly onto your pet without first consulting your veterinarian or qualified pet health practitioner. It's a good idea to remove your pet from the room until you're finished cleaning and deodorizing the area.
Peppermint oil is toxic for dogs. Whether you're using an oil diffuser, applying it to their skin, or adding oil to their food, it's unfortunately harmful to our four-legged friends.Are candles safe for dogs? ›
Most of the time, candles are relatively harmless to dogs and will not make them sick. The common candle waxes, such as soy, paraffin, and beeswax, are all non-toxic and usually soften and pass safely through your dog's digestive system. Soy-based candles in particular are the softest and pose the least amount of risk.Is orange essential oil safe for dogs? ›
The use of essential oils, such as orange essential oil, within the home has increased significantly in recent years, causing pet owners to ask if the orange essential oil is safe for dogs. Yes, the orange essential oil is safe for dogs.Is lemon essential oil safe for dogs? ›
The lemon essential oil contains citronellal, geraniol, and limonene, all of which can be toxic in large quantities. These compounds are known to cause liver damage, gastrointestinal irritation, and even central nervous system depression. Lemon essential oil is not safe for dogs to consume in any quantity.Is Lemongrass safe for dogs? ›
Lemongrass is toxic to dogs due to the cyanogenic glycosides and oils in the plant. Lemongrass poisoning, however, is rare in canines since dogs must ingest large quantities of the plant to trigger severe symptoms.Is tea tree oil safe for dogs? ›
Tea tree oil is often found in varying concentrations and high concentrations should never be used on pets. As little as 7 drops of 100% oil has resulted in severe poisoning, and applications of 10-20 mls of 100% oil have resulted in poisoning and death in both dogs and cats.What are the symptoms of tea tree oil poisoning in dogs? ›
Symptoms of toxicity include elevations in liver enzymes, weakness, low body temperature, incoordination, inability to walk, hind leg paralysis, tremors, coma and death. These symptoms often appear 2-8 hours after exposure. If you suspect tea tree oil toxicity in your pet please contact your veterinarian immediately.What smells do dogs dislike? ›
- Citrus Scents. Citrus scents top the list of smells your dog probably hates. ...
- Vinegar. While this non-toxic household substance is safe for use around your home, your dog won't appreciate it. ...
- Rubbing Alcohol. ...
- Fresh Herbs. ...
- Cleaning Products & Chlorine. ...
- Mothballs. ...
- Hot Peppers. ...
Well known for its incredible calming properties for humans, lavender oil is one of the best essential oils to calm dogs. It is a natural dog anxiety treatments to use with a nervous, depressed or hyperactive pup - and is also an excellent sleep aid if your dog has insomnia.How do you dilute essential oils for dogs? ›
Dilution for Topical Application
We suggest a 9:1 ratio of carrier oil to essential oil. For medium-sized dogs dilute 4:1 carrier oil to essential oil. If you're using essential oils on medium-sized animals—like large dogs—dilute 3:1 carrier oil to essential oil.
You can give your dog lavender through its nose by diffusing or adding a few drops of lavender oil to his collar or bedding. Inhaling the scent of essential oils is another way dogs enjoy the benefits of lavender, and it's a great way to make sure he doesn't develop an aversion to the smell.
Since the oil is more concentrated in a diffuser, it can be unsafe for dogs to breathe. If you're diffusing lemongrass oil, do so far away from your dog or strictly outside just to be safe.What oil is good for dogs itchy skin? ›
Coconut Oil for Itchy Dogs
For this reason, coconut oil is among the best oils for canine skin, which is why so many products for pups use it as a key ingredient. Many natural beauty products now contain coconut oil because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Coconut oil not only tops our list of dog-safe essential oils for dogs because of its widespread popularity among dog lovers. We also love it because of the numerous canine health benefits offered by using the essential oil.What are the signs of essential oil poisoning in dogs? ›
According to the Pet Poison Helpline
Behavior changes (depression, fatigue, weakness) Difficulty breathing (labored breathing, fast breathing, coughing, wheezing) Drooling and/or vomiting. Tremors.
Exposure to essential oils can result in varying symptoms ranging from drooling and vomiting to coma, seizures, and liver injury.Can dogs smell eucalyptus? ›
Absolutely. Your pal's got one powerful sniffer that's five times more sensitive than your own, so chances are if you can sniff it out, so can Spot. But even though your dog can smell eucalyptus — whether it's from the tree itself or through an essential oil diffuser — it doesn't mean they should.What scents are dogs okay with? ›
The Bath and Body Works Wallflower is a plug-in-air freshener that has received negative feedback from pet owners. Despite their pretty packaging and heavenly scents, they are not safe to be continuously used throughout the day. Many pet owners have reported scents' adverse reactions to cats and dogs.What is the safest dog perfume? ›
- Best Natural Dog Perfume. Bodhi Dog Natural Pet Cologne. ...
- Best Reviewed Dog Perfume. Hempz Petz Dog Cologne. ...
- Best Dog Cologne That Groomers Use. Bark2Basics Salon Scents Pet Grooming Cologne. ...
- Best Aromatherapy Dog Spray. Lavender & Chamomile Aromatherapy Freshening & Shining Spray. ...
- Best Long-Lasting Dog Perfume.
Dirty/Stinky Pets & Their Habitats: It's pet-safe because it has no toxic chemicals, fumes or residues. Hypochlorous acid (the hero ingredient in Force of Nature) is actually used in a number of veterinary care products because it's so safe.Are Febreze plug-ins safe for dogs? ›
The answer. No, plug-in air fresheners are not safe for pets.Can dogs be in a room with scented candles? ›
Yes, some scented candles can be poisonous to pets. If you are a fan of scented candles, you might want to try unscented, for your dog's sake. Just like with humans, fragrances and scented oils can trigger an allergic reaction or irritate existing breathing problems in our canine companions.Can I burn a eucalyptus candle around my dog? ›
Some oils, like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil, can cause serious health issues in dogs such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and even liver failure if ingested. Burning candles or using diffusers can also release fumes that can be harmful to a dog's respiratory system if they are inhaled in large quantities.Is ginger oil OK for dogs? ›
Yes, ginger oil is safe for dogs, both internally and externally. Not only is ginger oil safe for dogs, but it's also incredibly beneficial for them! Ginger oil for dogs is an excellent topical remedy for many skin conditions.Is cedarwood oil safe for dogs? ›
Cedarwood essential oils can be safely be used topically to condition your pets skin and fur and to repel fleas. Cedarwood oils are gentle, soothing and usually safe to use on both cats and dogs.Is grapefruit essential oil safe for dogs? ›
Many experts recommendcedarwood, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, spearmint, and tangerine essential oils as being safe to use around your dog.Is rosemary essential oil safe for dogs? ›
The short answer is yes. Rosemary is considered non-toxic to dogs according to the ASPCA, and it may even have health benefits for your pup. Rosemary has a wide variety of uses, including serving as a potent ingredient for cooking, offering medicinal properties, and providing a sweet-smelling fragrance.Is mint safe for dogs? ›
Dogs can safely eat one or two fresh, plain mint leaves per day. However, feeding your dog mint leaves in excess may upset their digestive system. Stick to serving them a few small bites of mint occasionally, rather than regularly.Is Basil safe for dogs? ›
Yes! Basil is healthy for your dog to eat in small quantities. It's anti-inflammatory and contains a high level of antioxidants that help prevent many types of illness including cancer. Basil also helps prevent cellular damage, calms your anxious dog, and eases arthritis pain.
As long as it is properly diluted and used in a way where your pet cannot ingest it, as a general rule, lemongrass essential oil is safe. For context, this means you can diffuse it in a well-ventilated room, not that you should be applying it to your four-legged friend or to yourself if your dog commonly licks you.Are Bath and Body Works diffusers safe for dogs? ›
The Bath and Body Works Wallflower is a plug-in-air freshener that has received negative feedback from pet owners. Despite their pretty packaging and heavenly scents, they are not safe to be continuously used throughout the day. Many pet owners have reported scents' adverse reactions to cats and dogs.Is lemongrass essential oil OK for dogs? ›
As long as it is properly diluted and used in a way where your pet cannot ingest it, as a general rule, lemongrass essential oil is safe. For context, this means you can diffuse it in a well-ventilated room, not that you should be applying it to your four-legged friend or to yourself if your dog commonly licks you.