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What about essential oils and dogs? Safe or toxic? – Ultimate guide

Written by: Peter Laskay
Reviewed by: Amber LaRock
Last updated on:

Essential oils are very popular among people. They have many uses. However, if you are a little knowledgeable on the subject, you have probably heard that there are animals that are badly affected by these substances.

But what about dogs? Are they that harmful to them too? Are there any essential oils that could be helpful to them? These things will be revealed in this article.

What are essential oils? 

essential oils

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants. Usually, they give the plants a unique scent. These oils are obtained by distillation or cold pressing. They are then mixed with some career oil and sold as some products.

But why is this good? 

People use essential oils in aromatherapy. This means that people inhale them or apply them during a massage or with different creams. If you inhale the aromas of essential oils, it will affect your limbic system, such as the amygdala.

This means that the whole procedure will have a good effect on your mood. But what about pets? Does it affect them like that? The situation is not that simple. 

I have already written an article about cats and essential oils. Now I’m going to look at all of this from the dogs’ perspective.

Why use essential oils in dogs?

dog flea

There is preliminary research on this topic. These suggest that essential oils can have positive effects in many cases. Because of this, many owners and holistic veterinarians use these supplements.

Essential oils are most often used to treat various skin problems and to prevent ticks and fleas

However, it is very important to understand that there is not enough research available to consider essential oils to be proven to be effective in dogs

On the other hand, there are essential oils that can be especially harmful to dogs. I would like to write more about these below.

Can essential oils be dangerous?

At first, we tend to think that substances that are natural are also safe. However, in the case of essential oils, the situation is not that simple. 

Essential oils in their pure form are very strong. They can cause skin irritation for example. These substances should not be used without proper assistance and guidance. Always look for so-called dog-safe products.

The chemicals in essential oils are metabolized by the liver. Therefore, puppies, young dogs, old dogs, or dogs with liver problems should never be treated with a product containing such substances.

Essential oils can also be a problem in healthy adult dogs. If swallowed, for example, they can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Never leave bottles, vials, or tubes containing essential oils within reach. If trouble does occur, call your veterinarian immediately. He can rule out the possibility of poisoning.

Remember that the senses of dogs (especially their noses) are much more developed than ours. So, consider the amount of essential oil used. Maybe a few more drops of lavender oil reassure you. But your dog may not like it and it will have the opposite effect.

Essential oil-based tick and flea preventives are not regulated. Because of this, you should use them with extreme caution. Always consult your veterinarian before using a product. He will know exactly what you can use safely and what not.

Safe essential oils

You can use the following essential oils. Basically, they are harmless to dogs. However, keep in mind that these should not be used in high concentrations either. 

  • Lavender: It reduces the symptoms of stress and anxiety. It is also effective against allergic reactions. When applied externally, it can have a good effect on the skin.
  • Copaiba: It supports a lot of things, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory system.
  • Frankincense: This essential oil is also good for several things. For example, it supports cell growth and the nervous system.
  • Peppermint: It supports the respiratory system and is also good for bad joints.
  • Petitgrain: Like lavender, it is also good for anxiety. It has a calming effect.

It is important to note that because these essential oils are safe for dogs, this is not necessarily true for cats. Find out more about the subject and ask your veterinarian before using these on cats.

Toxic essential oils and symptoms

The following essential oils are very harmful to dogs. Dogs should not consume them, and these can be harmful to their skin too.

  • Tea tree: It is one of the most dangerous essential oils. In addition to skin irritation, it causes severe symptoms such as depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of coordination.
  • Cinnamon: It can also cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as low blood sugar. Besides, liver disease and heart rhythm disturbances also occur as side effects.
  • Citrus: All these are harmful. Symptoms may include vomiting, seizures and tremors, and various skin irritations.
  • Pennyroyal: The essential oil of this can also cause very severe symptoms of poisoning. Examples include vomiting, diarrhea, and liver failure.
  • Pine: It can cause skin irritation, vomiting, incoordination, various neurological problems, and liver and kidney problems.
  • Sweet birch: This essential oil can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers, kidney failure, various seizures, and even death.
  • Wintergreen: It can cause vomiting, other stomach problems and even liver failure.
  • Ylang ylang: It causes vomiting, difficulty breathing, and weakness.

Be sure to avoid the essential oils listed here. Otherwise, those that are considered safe use also with caution. As I mentioned, pay close attention to concentration.

If you experience any symptoms of poisoning in your dog, call your vet immediately. Pet Poison Helpline can be also helpful.

dog laying cute

How to use essential oils safely On your dog

By following these tips, you can safely use essential oils and it won’t be harmful to your dog.

The first and most important thing is to always consult your veterinarian. He will know exactly which essential oil is safe and what dose to use. If you have figured out how to start using one of the oils, follow the “less is more” principle.

To 30ml of carrier oil, it will be enough to add 3-4 drops of essential oil. Remember, even less essential oil should be used on puppies and elderly dogs. 

Use hydrosol products. They convert water to steam and also dilute the concentration of essential oils. This will make them even less harmful.

Do not use essential oils around the eyes, ears, nose, or genitals of dogs. It is not recommended to use these preparations in pregnant or nursing dogs.

Using essential oils shouldn’t be the very first thing that comes to mind. Or, never use it for prevention. 

In addition, always consider your dog’s current state of health. If he has liver problems or is prone to any seizures, you should not use essential oils. Anyway, your vet will know that anyway.

dog looking cute


Essential oils are somewhat less dangerous for dogs than for cats. However, it is very important that you take this problem seriously. There can be serious consequences if you don’t pay attention to. I personally suggest that you avoid using these products as much as possible. But if you use them, be sure to follow the tips described here.

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Hey, my name is Peter, and I am the owner of this site. I have loved animals since I was a kid. I am constantly training myself; I recently obtained an accredited certificate in pet nutrition. But I am constantly learning about training, grooming for dogs and cats. I am currently a happy owner of two dogs, six cats, and two red-eared sliders. My goal is to provide my visitors with the most authentic information possible on any pet-related topic.
Amber LaRock
Reviewed By An Expert:

My name is Amber, and I am a licensed vet tech with 10 years of experience in the field. I spent the majority of my career working in emergency medicine but recently transitioned to creating accurate pet care information online. There is nothing more important to me than helping pet owners understand their furry friend’s health, and giving you the tools you need to offer your pet the best future possible!

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