Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
Looking for safe ways to incorporate essential oils into your dog’s routine? While essential oils offer many health benefits for humans, some can be toxic or even fatal to dogs.
To help you navigate the world of aromatherapy for your pup, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to find dog-safe essential oils.
The Role of Aromatherapy in Canine Health
Aromatherapy or essential oil therapy is an ancient holistic practice involving the use of aromatic oils to improve mental and physical health.
It is done by stimulating the olfactory bulb linked to the limbic system, which is responsible for regulating emotions and memories. Essential oils can influence psychological responses when absorbed into the bloodstream.
Depending on the type used, they may evoke a calming effect or promote better sleep to improve mood and lower stress levels caused by situations such as travelling.
What to Know About Essential Oils for Dogs
Undiluted 100% pure essential oils contain high concentrations of biologically active volatile oils. It makes them extremely potent, especially for our four-legged friends.
Using them on your furry pal without proper dilution can seriously harm their health instead of improving it.
Keep in mind that dogs have powerful noses. Their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 more sensitive than ours. Inhaling undiluted essential oils will irritate their lungs and cause respiratory problems.
Moreover, pooches metabolize certain chemicals differently than we do. Compounds in essential oils that do not affect us can have a devastating effect on their bodies.
The Importance of Carrier Oil in Canine Aromatherapy
Carrier oils are extracted from fatty portions of a plant, typically from kernels, nuts and seeds. Unlike essential oils, they do not contain volatile compounds and have a neutral smell.
Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils. They act as a buffer that prevents essential oils from causing irritation, discomfort, and other adverse reactions.
Some carriers you can safely use for canine aromatherapy are:
As you may have observed, certain types of cooking oils are great options for carrier oils. However, some varieties should be avoided as they do not blend well with essential oils such as shortening and regular butter.
Additionally, avoid using mineral oil as it can cause diarrhea if ingested and may also reduce the efficacy of essential oils.
Ideal Dilution Ratio of Essential Oils for Dogs
The recommended ratio of carrier oil to essential for topical applications depends on the size of the dog.
- Small breeds: Dilute 1 drop of essential oil with 9 drops of carrier oil
- Medium breeds: Dilute 1 drop of essential oil with 4 drops of carrier oil
- Large breeds: Dilute 1 drop of essential oil with 3 drops of carrier oil
On the other hand, it is advised to follow the 2 to 5% dilution rule when using essential oils for diffusers. It means that for every 12 to 30 drops of essential oil, it should be mixed with 30 milliliters (1 ounce) of carrier oil.
Now that we have thoroughly discussed the significance of properly diluting essential oils, it is time to distinguish which essential oils are safe for dogs, which should be avoided, and what varieties must be used with caution.
11 Safe Essential Oils for Dogs
1. Is Cardamom Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, cardamom essential oil is safe for dogs.
- It aids in resolving tummy troubles such as colic, nausea, flatulence, and stomach pains when ingested. This dog-safe essential oil helps revive the appetite of finicky or sick canines.
- Respiratory issues in dogs, particularly incessant coughing, can be resolved through diffusing cardamom essential oil.
2. Is Cedarwood Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, cedarwood essential oil is safe for dogs.
- Applying it on your dog’s coat deters fleas and ticks from sticking around. This dog-safe essential oil also enhances hair growth and helps abate symptoms of allergic reactions such as rashes.
- When used in aromatherapy, cedarwood essential oil functions as a vasodilator that relaxes the muscular walls of blood vessels. As a result, blood circulation is improved, which eases joint and muscle pains.
- It has a calming scent and houses a compound called cedrol, which lessens anxiety and supports restful sleep in dogs.
3. Is Chamomile Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, chamomile essential oil is safe for dogs.
Chamomile comes in 2 varieties: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. Each of them has different health perks in store for your canine friend.
- German Chamomile Essential Oil
German Chamomile Essential Oil has multiple therapeutic properties, including improvement in skin texture and elasticity, as well as reduction of pruritus and inflammation, which have long been recognized. The anti-inflammatory compounds in this dog-safe essential oil also alleviate symptoms of skin problems such as eczema and hasten the healing of burns.
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
It is a natural antispasmodic and pain reliever. This dog-safe essential oil can be used topically to address teething pains and muscle pains.
Inhaling the scent of roman chamomile essential oil has a calming effect on dogs and reduces their anxiety.
4. Is Fennel Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, fennel essential oil is safe for dogs.
- It is commonly used to assist in regulating hormone production in the thyroid, pituitary, pineal, and adrenal glands of canines.
- This dog-safe essential oil has antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, and laxative properties. In addition to these benefits, it also detoxifies the body from harmful compounds, providing another health benefit for dogs.
5. Is Frankincense Essential Oil for Dogs?
Yes, frankincense essential oil is safe for dogs.
- It lessens stomach upset in pooches and strengthens their immune systems.
Exposure to frankincense essential oil may lead to a sudden elevation in blood pressure. Avoid using it on dogs with hypertension.
- Massaging frankincense essential oil on inflamed joints reduces pain and swelling.
- Diffusing this dog-safe oil promotes a sense of calmness and also hinders the progression of certain types of neoplasia.
6. Is Geranium Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, geranium essential oil is safe for dogs.
- Geranium essential oil can help soothe and relax muscles in dogs.
- It can assist in managing blood sugar levels in dogs.
- geranium essential oil can help alleviate diarrhea symptoms in dogs.
- geranium essential oil can also help protect and soothe the stomach lining in dogs.
- It lessens restlessness and tension in anxious or stressed dogs when used in canine aromatherapy.
- When sprayed on a dog’s coat, this essential oil mitigates skin infections and keeps fleas and ticks at bay.
- It can work as a topical remedy for minor cuts and scrapes due to its antiseptic properties. Internal use promotes quicker healing, prevents scarring, and reduces inflammations.
7. Is Ginger Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, ginger essential oil is safe for dogs.
- It has antioxidative properties, which can help prevent cellular damage in dogs caused by free radicals.
- This essential oil can scavenge free radicals in the dog’s body, which can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Ginger essential oil has antibacterial properties, which can help fight off harmful bacteria in the dog’s body.
- It has antifungal properties, which can help combat fungal infections in dogs.
- Its scent eases stomach issues brought on by travel sickness including nausea and vomiting. It also helps nervous dogs calm down and relax.
- If used internally, this dog-safe essential oil assists in smoothing out bowel movements. Doing so prevents gas buildup in the digestive tract, which can lead to bloat.
- Administering ginger essential oil on painful areas of the canine body lessens their soreness and increases mobility.
8. Is Helichrysum Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, helichrysum essential oil is safe for dogs.
- It possesses antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal agents, making it a great antiseptic. Applying this dog-safe essential oil on scrapes, abrasions, and minor injuries disinfects and heals them swiftly.
- Topical use also minimizes pain in bruises and arthritic joints since it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Helichrysum essential oil for dogs is rich in antioxidants that assist in detoxifying your dog’s system.
9. Is Jasmine Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, jasmine essential oil is safe for dogs.
- It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Topical application aids in disinfecting wounds and soothing joint pains.
- This dog-safe essential oil reduces anxiety and depression and uplifts a dog’s mood when diffused. It also gives him an energy boost if he feels lethargic.
10. Is Myrrh Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, myrrh essential oil is safe for dogs.
- Myrrh essential oil has been well-documented for its use in oral hygiene and treatment of periodontal diseases due to its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antispasmodic, hypoglycemic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- This essential oil contains antiseptic components that disinfect areas of skin with irritation, preventing skin allergies and infections in dogs from intensifying.
- Myrrh essential oil can relieve itchiness and pain resulting from teething when it is smeared on the gums of puppies.
- This dog-safe essential oil is ideal to use for aromatherapy of anxious and stressed canines to make them feel serene.
11. Is Vanilla Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Yes, vanilla essential oil is safe for dogs.
- When diffused, it emits a scent that helps relieve stress, nervousness, and aggression in canines.
- This dog-safe essential oil can also serve as a fragrant perfume or deodorizer for your furry pal. Apply it on his coat to keep him smelling fresh.
5 Essential Oils to Use on Dogs with Caution
1. Is Bergamot Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Use bergamot essential oil on dogs with caution.
- It can be diffused around anxious and agitated canines to calm them down.
- The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents in this dog-safe essential oil make it a good remedy for skin infections.
Avoid bergamot essential oils that contain bergapten, a chemical that can cause phototoxicity when applied to the skin.
- Bergamot essential oil contains psoralens, which may induce poisoning if consumed in excessive quantities. Hence, do not let your dog take it internally.
2. Is Cornmint Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
There is not enough information to determine if cornmint essential oil is safe for dogs.
- Proponents believe it keeps the skin healthy and soothes swollen joints and muscle pains when topically applied.
- Due to a lack of critical details about the potential dangers of this essential oil, be sure to ask the opinion of a holistic vet before using it.
3. Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Be cautious when using lavender essential oil on your dog.
- It has antibacterial and antifungal properties that ease skin irritation brought on by bug bites, minor wounds, and skin issues.
Internal use of lavender essential oil must be avoided. It contains linalool and linalyl acetate, which can cause toxicity in dogs if ingested in large amounts.
- When used for aromatherapy, this dog-safe essential oil diminishes anxiety and stress levels in canines and promotes good sleep.
- Bugs such as fleas and ticks find the fragrance of lavender oil off-putting. Thus, it can be used as an insect repellent.
4. Is Rosemary Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Caution should be taken when using rosemary essential oil on dogs.
- Rosemary essential oil is believed to improve the skin and coat health of dogs when used topically.
- Its scent can produce a calming sensation in canines and also acts as an insect repellent that wards off fleas, mosquitoes, as well as other disease-carrying critters.
- However, rosemary essential oil contains a compound called camphor, which is toxic to dogs. For precautionary measures, consult a holistic veterinarian first to ensure safe use.
- An option that does not involve the use of this essential oil is to use dried or fresh forms of rosemary for DIY insect repellents or home remedies for skin problems.
5. Is Spearmint Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Use spearmint essential oil on your dog with extreme caution.
- It is said to help soothe digestive issues and aid in weight management in dogs.
- However, there is a contention about whether or not spearmint essential oil is toxic to dogs. Seek advice from a holistic vet if you plan to use it on your canine companion.
3 Essential Oils Dangerous to Dogs
1. Is Citronella Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
No, citronella essential oil is not safe for dogs.
- Many commercial anti-tick and flea products for dogs contain citronella essential oil because of its bug-repellent properties. However, it is toxic to dogs.
- Tannic acid can be found in this essential oil, which can cause mild poisoning in canines. In large doses, it can incite convulsions and shock.
- With this in mind, topical and internal use of citronella essential oil on dogs is discouraged. The same advice applies to diffusing it into the air.
2. Is Grapefruit Essential Oil Safe for Dogs
No, grapefruit essential oil is not safe for dogs.
- It is derived from the skin of the grapefruit, which contains the toxic compound psoralens. This makes the essential oil poisonous as well.
- Exposure to grapefruit essential oil can upset your furry pal’s stomach and cause vomiting. Severe toxicity may trigger seizures.
3. Is Lemongrass Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
No, lemongrass essential oil is not safe for dogs.
- Although praised for being a natural insect repellent and inflammation soother, lemongrass essential oil contains harmful compounds for canines.
Its cyanogenic glycosides can cause poisoning when ingested. So keep your pooch from ingesting this essential oil.
- Topical use is also dangerous since lemongrass essential oil has high concentrations of citral. This compound can burn your canine companion’s skin.
- This essential oil is also found to abnormally decrease blood sugar levels and interact with hypertension drugs. These factors make it more dangerous to dogs with diabetes or cardiac issues.
How to Use Safely Use Essential Oils for Dogs
Although some essential oils are considered safe for dogs, buying the wrong product or prolonged exposure can have detrimental effects on their body.
Here are a few guidelines to follow for safe aromatherapy sessions with your canine companion:
- Look for a therapeutic-grade 100% essential oil. Be warned that some companies pass off low-quality essential oils as therapeutic grade.
So always ask for the results of the product’s gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) testing. It assesses the purity of the essential oil.
- Do not use essential oils on certain dogs. These include pregnant dogs, dogs suffering from respiratory issues, and dogs with seizures. Otherwise, it may compromise their health.
- Start with a heavy dilution. This helps your dog’s body adjust and is also a good chance to check whether he likes the essential oil.
Discontinue use when adverse reactions crop up or if your dog cannot tolerate its scent.
- Do not administer essential oils in sensitive areas. Keep it away from your dog’s ears, eyes, nose, and genitals.
We also advise covering the area where the essential oil was applied with gauze. This will prevent your dog from licking it off.
- When diffusing essential oil, choose a place that your furry pal rarely frequents to limit his exposure.
Always keep the door open so he can escape if the scent becomes too overwhelming for him. Open the windows after using essential oil diffusers to let the fresh air whisk away the fragrance of the essential oil.
- Limit your dog’s exposure to diffused essential oils. Let the diffuser run for about 10 minutes, then take a 30-minute break to clear out the air.
Breathing in essential oils for long periods can lead to respiratory irritation and even toxicity.
- Place the diffuser in a place where your dog cannot reach it. Store essential oils in a cabinet with secure locks to prevent accidental ingestion.
If you have any concerns about essential oils for dogs, it is a good idea to seek guidance from a certified animal aromatherapy consultant apart from a holistic vet.
Signs of Essential Oil Poisoning in Dogs
Always monitor your canine companion every time you use essential oils on him. Be on the lookout for symptoms of essential oil toxicity such as:
- Fragrance or scent on hair coat, skin, or breath
- Skin irritation
- Redness or burns on the lips, tongue, or skin
- Excessive drooling
- Breathing difficulties
- Uncoordinated gait or ataxia
- Muscle tremors
If any product is on the skin or fur, quickly wash it off using dishwashing detergent. However, take him to the vet immediately if he shows any of these clinical signs. Late treatment can lead to fatal health complications such as liver damage.
FAQs About Dog-Safe Essential Oils
1. Can I use essential oils in my home if I have a dog?
2. Can I use a diffuser around my dog?
Yes, you can use a diffuser around your dog. Just follow the pointers that we have stated above. Do not let it run for too long as prolonged exposure may result in poisoning.
3. What essential oils are safe to diffuse around dogs?
Some essential oils that are safe to diffuse around dogs are frankincense, vanilla, and jasmine. They work well in providing stress relief to anxious pooches.
4. What essential oils should not be used around dogs?
The topical application of essential oils could be a promising alternative therapeutic tool in dog skin disorders, such as pyoderma and atopic syndrome. Essential oils can also heal dogs by relieving anxiety, aggression, and symptoms of ailments like canine arthritis.
However, it’s important to note that some oils can be toxic; learn what oils to avoid in our guide, “What Essential Oils Are Bad for Dogs?” Use safe essential oils for a soothing and therapeutic experience that promotes overall well-being.