Our Complete Guide to Essential Oils for Dogs: Benefits, Uses and Cautions
Essential oils are a great way to promote lasting wellness for you, your children and even your pets. There are several essential oils that are a natural, gentle treatment option for dogs and can be used to treat skin conditions and infections, anxiety and a range of other canine-specific conditions.
If you’re interested in helping your dog live a happier, healthier life the natural way, you’ll need a little bit of a helping hand. When it comes to which essential oils are safe for dogs, it’s important to note that only certain essential oils are suitable for use on your canine companions. Dogs have very sensitive systems and olfactory glands, which means that they are more sensitive to concentrated plant extracts than adult humans.
In this guide, we’ll explore essential oils that are safe for dogs, what essential oils are bad for dogs, and how to use them safely to benefit your dog’s health and well-being.
- What are essential oils?
- Are essential oils safe for dogs?
- The best essential oils safe for dogs
- What essential oils are bad for dogs?
- Benefits of using essential oils for dogs
- Essential oils for treating stress and anxiety in dogs
- Essential oils for treating skin inflammation and infections in dogs
- Essential oils for treating arthritis in dogs
- Essential oils for repelling insects
- How to use essential oils for dogs
- Topical use
- Commercial products for pets
- Research on essential oils safe for dogs
- Essential oils for itching and infections
- Ingestion of essential oils in dogs
- Essential oils for anxiety and stress
- Essential oils for tick prevention
- Possible side effects of essential oils for dogs
- Contraindications for using essential oils for dogs
- Where to buy essential oils for dogs
- Essential oils for dogs FAQs
- Are essential oils safe for dogs?
- What essential oils are bad for dogs?
- Which essential oils are safe for dogs?
- How can I use essential oils for my dog?
- What are the benefits of essential oils for dogs?
- Help your dog to enjoy all the benefits of essential oils
What are essential oils?
Before we delve into the best and worst essential oils for dogs, here is a refresher on what essential oils are in general.
Essential oils are pure plant extracts made from a variety of plant materials, including flowers, leaves, stems, roots, resin and other constituents. They are processed and distilled into concentrated oils with robust aromas and a variety of health benefits. They do not contain fatty acids like most oils do but rather volatile organic compounds that are potent and therapeutic.
Essential oils for dogs are essential oils that have been proven safe to use on and around dogs. Not all essential oils are safe or suitable for pets. So, if you plan on using essential oils for your dogs, make sure that you only choose oils that are non-toxic to them.
Are essential oils safe for dogs?
Some essential oils are indeed safe for dogs, as long as you use them responsibly and correctly.
Before you use any essential oils on your dog, it’s recommended that you consult with a veterinary expert to minimize the risk of potential complications.
Remember to inform your vet of any other natural supplements or remedies you are giving your dog so that they can assess whether or not any interactions will occur. If you do use essential oils for your dog, they should always be diluted and never applied in their concentrated form.
The best essential oils safe for dogs
Many pet owners have reported positive improvements in their dogs’ health after using essential oils that are safe for dogs. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine and various studies, the most suitable essential oils that are safe for dogs include:
- 🐶 Cardamom essential oil
- 🐶 Cedarwood essential oil
- 🐶 Chamomile essential oil
- 🐶 Citronella essential oil
- 🐶 Fennel essential oil
- 🐶 Frankincense essential oil
- 🐶 Geranium essential oil
- 🐶 Ginger essential oil
- 🐶 Helichrysum essential oil
- 🐶 Lavender essential oil
- 🐶 Lemongrass essential oil
- 🐶 Marjoram essential oil
- 🐶 Oregano essential oil
- 🐶 Peppermint essential oil
- 🐶 Spearmint essential oil
- 🐶 Valerian essential oil
What essential oils are bad for dogs?
When it comes to what essential oils are bad for dogs, it’s important to check carefully before exposing your pets to any essential oils, even if you plan on diffusing them. Many essential oils can be detrimental to your dogs, even in small doses. Paws Insider notes that you should avoid using any of these essential oils on or near your dogs:
- 🐶 Birch essential oil
- 🐶 Cinnamon essential oil
- 🐶 Clove essential oil
- 🐶 Juniper essential oil
- 🐶 Pennyroyal essential oil
- 🐶 Pine and spruce essential oils
- 🐶 Tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil
- 🐶 Wintergreen essential oil
- 🐶 Yarrow essential oil
- 🐶 Ylang ylang essential oil
- 🐶 All citrus essential oils, including bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime & orange
If your dog is accidentally exposed to any of these essential oils, seek the advice of an experienced veterinarian as soon as possible.
Benefits of using essential oils for dogs
According to Veterinarians.org, there are many potential benefits to using essential oils that are safe for dogs. These include helping them to cope with stress and anxiety, getting rid of infections, staving off mosquitoes and fleas, reducing inflammation and itching caused by seasonal allergies, and reducing the impact of arthritis. Let’s look at these benefits in a bit more detail.
Essential oils for treating stress and anxiety in dogs
One of the most prevalent benefits of using essential oils safe for dogs is their potential to address stress and anxiety. Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety for a number of reasons, ranging from separation anxiety to traumatic events like cross-country moves, long car rides, visits to the vet or salon and exposure to unfamiliar environments. Lavender, chamomile and valerian oil have proven calming properties that may help to reduce your dog’s anxiety and improve their quality of life when diffused into their environment.
Essential oils for treating skin inflammation and infections in dogs
Certain essential oils also have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help to address skin itching, inflammation and infections. Lavender oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and helichrysum oil may also offer skin healing benefits. Rosemary, lavender, chamomile and peppermint may also be able to reduce itchy skin and soothe skin-related inflammation and infections in dogs.
Essential oils for treating arthritis in dogs
Some essential oils may even offer benefits when used as arthritis treatments for dogs, although care should be taken when using these oils in senior dogs. Many pet owners have seen improvements in their dogs’ arthritis when using ginger, lavender and frankincense essential oils.
Oral Boswellia serrata (a type of frankincense) resin extracts have been found safe and effective in dog arthritis, however, expert advice should be obtained from a vet before giving a dog frankincense essential oil orally as it is more potent.
Essential oils for repelling insects
Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) might make for a useful topical spray to repel ticks. Other oils recommended to repel ticks include lemongrass, geranium and lavender. Lemongrass are also mosquito repellents, as is citronella. Lemongrass and rosemary essential oils may also help repel fleas.
How to use essential oils for dogs
There are many ways to use essential oils for dogs, including diffusing them and adding them to shampoos, ointments and topical treatments. When using any of these methods, it’s essential that you dilute any essential oil to a safe concentration.
You can dilute one drop of a dog-friendly essential oil in 50 drops of a neutral carrier oil such as olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Always ensure that your essential oil concentration is suitable for your dog’s size, age, breed and general health condition. Topical applications with a carrier oil may be the most appropriate treatment for skin infections on your dog’s ear where the skin is exposed and they can’t lick it off.
You can also use hydrosols on your dog, as long as the herbs used to create the hydrosols are safe for canine use. This method might work best when trying to keep fleas, mosquitoes and ticks away from your dog.
You can also add a couple drops of essential oil to your dog’s bath water when giving your dog a bath. This is generally best when dealing with a widespread skin condition or fleas. Just be sure to rinse your dog very well afterward.
If you plan on diffusing essential oils for your dog to inhale, it’s important to choose only the purest, best quality essential oils and a quality diffuser to match. Volant’s 100% pure, organic essential oils will bring your dog all of the health benefits of safe plant extracts without any added chemicals or toxins.
Since dogs have more sensitive noses than we do, simply one drop of your chosen essential oil in a diffuser filled with distilled water should be sufficient to have the desired effect.
Diffusing lavender or chamomile essential oils might help your dog remain calm and relaxed in stressful situations or calm an overanxious dog. Diffusing cedarwood might help repel pests from your home, keeping them away from your dog.
Note that diffusing peppermint or rosemary essential oils might make your dog less relaxed and more vocal!
Our sleek Scandinavian-designed diffusers will also help to diffuse our oils into the air while bringing a touch of minimalist style to your home. Remember, when using a diffuser for your dogs, keep the diffuser safely out of reach and leave a door open to ensure that your dog has a way to exit the room if they wish.
Commercial products for pets
If you’re using an essential oil-based product you bought at the store indicated for canine use, be sure to follow the instructions on the label, but better yet, consult your vet first. It’s important to note that essential oil-based products for pets are often not regulated, and even when used according to the label, adverse reactions can still occur. One report showed that in 77% of adverse reactions, the products were used according to the directions on the label.
Essential oils should not be given to dogs orally unless indicated by a veterinarian.
Essential oils for itching and infections
A paper published in the Journal of Medical Mycology in 2014 studied the effects of essential oils on Malassezia dermatitis, a yeast infection of the skin that causes chronic itching in dogs. The blend of oils used included a mixture of lavender, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, helichrysum and bitter orange oils mixed with coconut and sweet almond oils. The dogs were treated for a month with the essential oil blend, and the study found similar clinical improvements in these animals as those in the group who received conventional antifungal medication. Both groups of dogs displayed the same level of improvement during follow-up consultations 6 months later with no adverse effects in the essential oil group.
Another study looked at the effectiveness of various essential oil blends for otitis externa, a yeast infection of the ears in dogs. They found that a blend of lemon, rosemary, chamomile and clary sage was the most effective after two weeks of use. However, the authors suggested a multifactorial approach of both conventional medication combined with topical essential oil application for full resolution.
Like humans, dogs are prone to getting urinary tract infections (UTIs). A 2018 study isolated UTI-causing bacteria and yeast such as E. coli, Enterococcus and Candida, from dogs and cats and tested the antimicrobial effects of various essential oils against these strains. The essential oils of thyme and oregano proved to be most effective and are suggested for potential use as an external or intravesical wash for UTIs in cats and dogs.
Ingestion of essential oils in dogs
In 2019, the Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) was asked by the European Commission to deliver a scientific opinion on the safety of oregano essential oil used as a flavoring agent in animal food. For dog food, 106 mg/kg was found to be safe.
An additional similar report was done on the safety of ylang ylang essential oil in animal feed. It was reported that 5 mg/kg of ylang ylang essential oil is safe for use in dog food.
A similar report on ginger in animal feed noted that ginger essential oil is safe in dog food up to 20 mg/kg.
In an effort to reduce chemical antioxidants in dog food as preservatives, a recent study looked at the effects on replacing them with vitamin E and essential oils of clove, oregano and rosemary. Not only did the essential oils help preserve the dog food, but the dogs who ate the food also had higher antioxidants in their blood and less oxidative stress, meaning they were healthier.
The first study on a dog food-based supplement for flea prevention was released in 2021. The supplement contained extracts of thyme, rosemary, melissa, fenugreek, absinthe and lemongrass. While the control dogs eating standard food had an increasing number of fleas until the fourth month, the dogs consuming the supplement had a reduced number of fleas from months 2-5.
Some dogs are prone to malodor of the skin or bad breath (aka halitosis). One study found that a gel containing peppermint and thyme oils helped improve dog breath compared to a placebo.
Essential oils for anxiety and stress
A study from the University of Belfast found that dogs that had been exposed to chamomile and lavender essential oils spent less time moving around and more time resting than when exposed to other olfactory stimuli. These essential oils were also found to reduce vocalization and barking in animals who were caged. These symptoms are common in dogs that are stressed, anxious or suffering from separation or other anxiety.
While a spray bark collar doesn’t reduce anxiety or stress, it can help reduce barking. And when citronella is added to the spray, it becomes even more effective, reducing barking in three quarters of dogs according to one study.
Essential oils for tick prevention
A paper published in Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases also found promise in using essential oils to reduce tick attachment to dogs. The study found that the number of ticks attached to the legs and bellies of dogs who had been sprayed with a turmeric oil preparation was significantly less than the number of ticks attached to unsprayed dogs. The paper suggests that turmeric essential oil may form a valuable part of a tick management strategy for domestic dogs.
Juniperus virginiana, a type of cedarwood essential oil, has also been found effective at controlling ticks in dogs, according to a 2019 study.
Possible side effects of essential oils for dogs
If you suspect that your dog is reacting negatively to essential oil exposure, it’s important to know and be able to identify all possible side effects. If your dog displays any of these signs after being exposed to essential oils, stop use immediately and contact a veterinary expert for advice:
- 🐶 Drooling
- 🐶 Watering eyes
- 🐶 Excessive moisture around the nose
- 🐶 Vomiting
- 🐶 Low heart rate
- 🐶 Low body temperature, tremors and shivering
- 🐶 Poor balance and unsteadiness
- 🐶 Wheezing and coughing
- 🐶 Excessive panting
- 🐶 Breathing difficulties
Additionally, if your dog appears to be acting strangely in any way after being exposed to essential oils, watch them carefully and check on their progress to ensure that they are not having any negative reactions. If this behavior does not improve, consult your vet as soon as possible for guidance and treatment options.
Contraindications for using essential oils for dogs
Puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with chronic health conditions should not be exposed to essential oils without the approval of an experienced veterinarian. These oils should also not be used in pregnant or nursing pups, even in diluted concentrations.
Some dogs may also naturally avoid essential oils, likely due to the fact that they find their strong scent overwhelming. If this is the case, avoid applying essential oil dilutions to your dog, and allow them to leave the room freely whenever you are using a diffuser.
Where to buy essential oils for dogs
Essential oils are growing in popularity due to their range of unique health benefits, which has made them widely available both online and in stores. If you’re looking for essential oils that are safe for dogs, Volant is an excellent option.
We offer 100% pure, natural and organic essential oils that are sustainably sourced and produced. The superior quality of our essential oils makes them suitable for use in dogs, as long as you use the correct concentrations and dilute our oils according to the advice of your vet. We also offer a range of stylish, Nordic-made essential oil diffusers that enable you to expose your canine companions to essential oils in a safe and effective way while adding a timeless piece of decor to your home.
Essential oils for dogs FAQs
Are essential oils safe for dogs?
Some essential oils are safe for dogs, but others can be harmful, even in small doses. Note that dogs can still have reactions to essential oils considered safe and used appropriately. Be sure to only use essential oils that have been proven safe for use in dogs, and in their safe concentrations and methods. It’s always best to check with your vet before using essential oils on your dog.
What essential oils are bad for dogs?
Many essential oils are bad for dogs and can be toxic to them, even in small amounts. Avoid exposing your dogs to bergamot, birch, cinnamon, clove, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, lime, orange, pennyroyal, pine, tea tree, wintergreen and yarrow essential oils.
Which essential oils are safe for dogs?
Some of the essential oils that are safe for dogs when diluted include cardamom, cedarwood, chamomile, citronella, eucalyptus, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, spearmint, valerian and ylang ylang essential oils.
How can I use essential oils for my dog?
The best way to use essential oils for dogs is to apply them topically to the ears (or exposed skin that they can’t lick) when diluted in a carrier oil to fight an infection or dry skin, to bathe them in water with a few drops of essential oil to fight off fleas or a widespread skin infection, to spritz them with it to repel ticks, fleas and mosquitoes, or to diffuse them to ward off pests or relax your dog. Diffusing low concentrations of essential oils can provide a host of benefits, including calming your dog and alleviating anxiety and stress.
What are the benefits of essential oils for dogs?
Studies have shown that some essential oils have the power to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs, treat fungal skin conditions like Malassezia dermatitis, and even repel ticks and fleas.
Help your dog to enjoy all the benefits of essential oils
Essential oils that are safe for dogs can offer your canines a variety of benefits, from treating skin conditions and itching to reducing tick or flea attachment and soothing anxiety. The key to using these oils to aid your dog’s well-being is to use them at the appropriate dilutions and to only use pure and natural essential oils from a trusted retailer.
Volant’s essential oils are pure, 100% natural and organic, allowing you to give your dogs all of the benefits of essential oils without exposing them to unnecessary toxins. Browse our range online to find quality dog-friendly essential oils for all of your furry friend’s needs.