Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
The safety of lavender around dogs is a topic of debate. While it can have a positive effect on canine behavior, the plant also contains toxic compounds that can be harmful.
This article explores the pros and cons of lavender and its safety for dogs. We’ll also discuss the benefits and risks of lavender essential oil and provide tips on proper usage. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about using lavender around your pup.
Is the Lavender Plant Safe for Dogs?
While lavender contains a compound called linalool, which is toxic to dogs in large amounts, the plant itself only produces it in small quantities. However, it’s important to note that dogs should not be encouraged to eat lavender, as large doses may cause toxicity.
You might be wondering: “Is lavender soothing for dogs?” Yes, lavender is soothing for dogs. Results of a 2006 study show that inhaling its aromatic scent helped reduce restlessness in canines during car rides. It also has calming effects on shelter dogs.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?
Similar to its plant form, lavender essential oil can be safe for dogs when used with care. It contains anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that offer the following health perks:
- Increases immunity against diseases
- Minimizes joint pain
- Relieves itchy skin and skin allergies
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Supports good sleep
- Soothes burns
- Neutralizes stinky doggy odor
- Alleviates travel sickness
- Insect repellent
- Environmental enrichment
However, dog owners should know that lavender essential oil presents higher toxicity compared to the lavender plant. That is because it has dense concentrations of volatile oils.
Now is a good time to bring up the question: “Is diluted lavender oil safe for dogs?” Yes, diluted lavender oil is safe for dogs.
Proper dilution is crucial to reap the essential oil’s health benefits without the risk of poisoning. Failure to do so may lead to respiratory irritation, gastrointestinal upset, and neurological symptoms.
Causes of Lavender Poisoning in Dogs
Toxicity occurs not only through ingesting the lavender plant or essential oil but in other ways too.
Prolonged inhalation of this essential oil may potentially cause poisoning regardless if it is properly diluted. Breathing issues may also occur as dogs have a more acute sense of smell than we do.
Toxicity through skin exposure is also possible, particularly if you use the wrong essential oil dilution ratio or not diluting at all.
How to Safely Use Lavender Essential Oil on Dogs
Lavender essential oil can be used on canines topically or through diffusion. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind before trying it on your canine companion:
- Dilute the lavender essential oil with a carrier oil to reduce the dangers of toxicity. For diffusing, mix 1 ounce of carrier oil for every 12 to 30 drops of the essential oil.
The dilution ratio for topical use relies on a dog’s size. Refer to the chart below:
Edit Size of the Dog Essential Oil to Carrier Oil Dilution Ratio Small 1:9 Medium 1:4 Large 1:3
- During your very first use, heavily dilute a drop of essential oil with a carrier oil. Apply a small amount on your dog’s skin to see if he shows any allergic reactions.
- Do not apply diluted lavender essential oil on your furry pal’s eyes, ears, mouth, and private areas. Or else it can lead to skin irritation.
- After administering diluted lavender essential oil to the affected area of your dog, cover it with a clean cloth or bandage.
Also, consider letting your dog wear an E-collar. It will prevent him from licking off the essential oil.
- Avoid diffusing diluted lavender essential oil for long periods. Let the diffuser run for 10 minutes, then turn it off for 30 minutes.
- Always keep the door open. This will provide your dog with a means of escape if the lavender scent is too much for him.
- Place the diffuser and lavender essential oil in a securely locked cabinet after use. Keep them out of your dog’s reach to significantly reduce accidental essential oil ingestion.
Symptoms of Lavender Poisoning in Dogs
What happens if a dog eats lavender in large doses? Gastrointestinal distress may happen if your dog eats a lavender plant in large doses.
On the other hand, exposure to undiluted or improperly diluted lavender essential oil can lead to more severe side effects.
Here are the common clinical signs of lavender poisoning in dogs:
- Stomach pain
- Labored breathing
Getting your dog checked by the vet is a priority if these symptoms begin to manifest. Do not delay. Late treatment will negatively affect your canine companion’s prognosis.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ingested Lavender?
The first thing you should do is rinse off any remains of the lavender plant in his mouth. Do the same if he has ingested lavender essential oil.
Skin exposure to the essential oil calls for a bath to wash it off his skin. Use a dog-safe soap and warm water to do this.
Once you are done, gather information about his exposure to the plant or essential oil. Note the amount consumed, the time of the accident, and the part of the plant ingested or the concentration of the essential oil.
Bring the lavender plant or essential oil bottle when taking your dog to the vet. This will help them make an accurate diagnosis and pick the most suitable treatment for your furry pal.
How to Keep Dogs from Eating Lavender Plant
The lavender plant is only mildly toxic to dogs. No need to get rid of it from your home as long as you place it out of his reach.
Place the plant on a high shelf or hang it on the ceiling. Spritz a dog repellent such as vinegar or bitter apple spray to make it unappealing for your dog.
Clean up the leaves or any plant matter in the lavender sheds before your dog gets to them.
7 Toxic Essential Oils for Dogs
Certain essential oils are dangerous for canines because they are highly concentrated with poisonous compounds. Diluting them does not guarantee the elimination of toxic dangers.
Here are some essential oils to avoid if you have a dog:
Due to toxic risks, do not give them to your dog internally or topically. Diffusing these essential oils when he is around is discouraged as well.
What Essential Oil Scents Are Safe for Dogs?
Many essential oils can be safely diffused around dogs once correctly diluted. Breathing in their scent promotes a calming sensation in agitated or nervous canines.
Here are some good options that you can try:
Always follow the guidelines we have stated above for safe aromatherapy sessions with your furry friend.
FAQS About Lavender for Dogs
1. Is Lavender Safe for Dogs with Anxiety?
Lavender essential oil has been shown to have a calming effect on dogs, resulting in increased relaxation. In one study, dogs exposed to lavender oil in their shelter kennels spent more time resting and less time walking around and barking compared to dogs exposed to other essential oils or no scent at all.
2. Do Dogs Hate the Smell of Lavender?
Some dogs hate the smell of lavender. Each pooch has his preference when it comes to scents. If your canine companion cannot stand lavender’s fragrance, do not use the essential oil on him.
3. Is Lavender Epsom Salt Safe for Dogs?
Lavender Epsom salt is safe for dogs, provided that the product is made explicitly for canine use. Give him Epsom salt baths to alleviate skin irritations caused by allergies and ease sore muscles or joint pain.
4. Is Lavender Shampoo Safe for Dogs?
Lavender shampoo is safe for dogs only if it is formulated for them. Avoid using shampoos made for humans as they contain chemicals that are potentially toxic to your dog.
5. How Much Lavender Is Toxic to Dogs?
It is unknown how much lavender can cause toxicity in dogs. Just make sure to keep your furry pal from ingesting the plant in large amounts.
Keep in mind that a small drop of undiluted lavender essential oil can induce poisoning. As we have advised, store it in a secure place to prevent accidental ingestion.
While lavender is generally safe for dogs, trace amounts of linalool can make it mildly toxic. Large doses can cause stomach upset and even poisoning. Use caution when using lavender essential oil as it can induce severe toxicity when undiluted.
Learn more about using essential oils safely for dogs in our article on dog-safe essential oils.