Essential Oils and Dogs. Are They Safe?

Essential Oils and Dogs. Are They Safe?

July 31, 2019 10 By April

If you’re thinking about essential oils and dogs, you need to think safety, safety, safety. Dogs have a heightened sense of smell. The percentage of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times larger than humans.

They have 225-300 million nasal olfactory receptors as compared to our 5 million, and they can identify smells 1,000-10,000 times better than we can. They will have a stronger reaction to essential oils than us because of this. So we need to really take care not to over use these potent essential oils. It can be dangerous.


When it Comes to Rover, Less is More!

With essential oils always, always, and I mean always dilute them before using with your dog. If you don’t, they can cause serious problems, such as topical irritation, sensitivity, photo sensitivity, toxicity, even death.

We dilute essential oils (EO) when we use them for ourselves, but when it comes to our dogs, that’s not enough. We need to dilute them even more, even when inhaling. And with a little dog, you need to use less than if you were using them with a big dog.

Use 1-5 drops in a diffuser.

For a small dogs under 50 lbs, 1 drop EO to 8 drops carrier oil up to 1 drop EO to 2 Tbs carrier oil, depending on the oil.

For big dogs over 50 lbs, 1 drop EO to 8 drops carrier oil up to 1 drop EO to 1 Tbs carrier oil, depending on the oil.

Click here to see a list of essential oils and their topical dilutions.

I would advise to try only one essential oil at a time in case your dog is more sensitive to one oil over another.


Reasons to Use Essential Oils

Dogs, like people, have health issues. They can get arthritis, get scrapes and bruises, scars, strains, have skin issues, and flea control. They also have emotional issues like anxiety, stress, even depression.

You should only use essential oils on your dog to address a concern not as a preventative. When used as a preventative, it can cause sensitivity or even organ toxicity. If used in a sparing manner, dogs can get the same benefits from essential oils as people do.


The Best Ways to Use Essential Oil for Fluffy

The first thing you should do is let your veterinarian know that you plan to use essential oils for your dog. He or she might not want you to due to your pet’s health or other circumstances.

You should always use a therapeutic grade essential oil that is 100% pure, not poor quality or synthetic grade oils that can cause adverse reactions.

The best way to help your dog by using essential oils is with a diffuser or by inhalation. If you want your dog to inhale it and not use a diffuser, you still need to dilute it. To inhale, you can rub it on your hands with a carrier oil and have your dog smell your hands, or you can place a drop on a favorite blanket or bandanna.

When it comes to topical use on a dog, there is something to consider.  Whether it be by spritzer, spray or massage, your dog might very well lick itself and inadvertently ingest the essential oil. Even if it’s diluted, this could cause gastrointestinal problems.

You really should have an advanced education in essential oil chemistry before applying to the skin or fur.  But if you do use essential oils topically on your dog,  the safest places would be on the spine and the tips of the ears.

The only topical way I, myself, think that it would be safe to put on your dog is in a shampoo or conditioner that you can rinse out.

If you were using the oil for emotional reasons, I would use 1%, and if it was for physical issues, then 2-3% diluted in either a carrier oil, such as olive oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil if using topically or in water with a diffuser.

Do not use around the eyes, ears, nose, mucous membranes or genital area because of irritation and sensitivity. It would also be a good idea to start with a hydrosol first and see how your pet tolerates it before moving on to the oils.

Physical doesn’t always mean topical. If you’re using the essential oil for a physical problem, such as pain or strains, inhalation is just as effective as topical use.

Now for puppies under 10 weeks old, elderly dogs, pregnant dogs, or dogs with health problems, it would be safer to use a hydrosol.

It is best not to give your dog essential oils internally.  Dogs can easily get poisoned by them if you accidentally gave them too much. However, if you do want to give it to them this way,  Hydrosols are the safest way to do this.  No more than 10 drops in their drinking water.  Hydrosols are the waters (flower waters) that are left after the distillation of essential oils.

Always contact your veterinarian before using essential oils on your pet for the first time.


Watch For Signs of Stress

You should let the dog choose the essential oil that he likes by giving him a choice.  Let him smell the bottles with the caps still on.  If your dog turns away or tries to get away from it, then you know he doesn’t like it.

When diffusing or inhaling, pay attention to signals like pacing, whining, or trying to escape a room.  Make sure your dog has an escape route if he doesn’t like it.  Never force your dog into the use of essential oils.


Oils That Are Safe For Dogs

This is a partial list of essential oils that are safe to use for dogs. For a more complete list, click here.

  • Cedar – flea control
  • Chamomile – anti inflammatory, nausea, allergies
  • Clary Sage – Anxiety
  • Copaiba – cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal, nervous system, urinary
  • Frankincense – behavior improvement
  • Lavender – anxiety, anti inflammatory, cuts, bruises, car sickness
  • Lemongrass – tick and flea repellent, improves skin conditions
  • Petitgrain – anxiety, digestive system
  • Spearmint – helps with nausea and diarrhea
  • Thyme – pain relief, arthritis


Oils That Are Toxic to Dogs

There are some essential oils that are toxic to dogs. Do not diffuse these oils around your dog:

  • Camphor
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus oil (lemon, lime, orange, mandarin)
  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Juniper
  • Pennyroyal
  • peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood
  • Yarrow
  • Ylang ylang

Some people say that tea tree oil is not toxic to dogs, and some say that 1-2% is nontoxic. Essential oil poisoning can cause muscle tremors, weakness, incoordination, low body temperature, drooling and vomiting.

Keep all essential oils away from your dog. Store where your dog can’t get into it. If your dog does get poisoned, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline at 888-426-4435, and contact your veterinarian immediately.


Final Words

When it comes to essential oils and dogs, you should start with a hydrosol or very small amount of essential oil to begin with. Remember, less is more. Using it in a diffuser is ideal.

Use high-grade essential oils from reputable essential oil companies like Artisan Aromatics or Barefut Essential Oils. And always get advice from your veterinarian first. Our fur babies are important to us and we want to take good care of them.



  • 2 drops of Cedarwood
  • 2 drops of Lavender
  • Water
  • 8-ounce spray bottle

Fill the bottle with water, and add the lid. Spray the mist 6″ from the dog, not directly in their face. Or spray the mist into the palms of hands and massage their neck, back, and chest to help them relax



  • 5 drops of Lavender
  • 3 drops of Roman Chamomile
  • 3 drops of Frankincense
  • 3 drops of Vitamin E
  • 2 Tbs of carrier oil

Mix the ingredients together in a measuring cup or bowl, then pour into a glass dropper bottle or roller ball bottles.  This is another option for dry paws, and use it to soothe dry skin on the tummy.

If you have any comments or would like to share some experiences with your dogs, please leave them below.


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