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Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?

by Amber LaRock February 22, 2021 4 min read

Herbs used for essential oils

Essential oils are a trending topic in the human wellness realm. With so many people taking a natural approach to their own health, it makes sense that many are exploring the use of essential oils in dogs as well. So what are essential oils, and are they safe for use in dogs?

In this article we’ll discuss the details of essential oil safety in dogs, and how these products can affect your furry friend.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are a concentrated liquid that contains the chemical compound of a plant. These oils have become extremely popular for their use in natural medicine, as they are believed to help with minor ailments and home remedies. These oils can be used in concentrated liquid form, as a steam, or even mixed with other products to be used in various concoctions. Due to how popular essential oils have become, there are many brands selling multiple forms of this alternative medicine product.

Are Essential Oils Safe For Dogs?

Many brands will promise the safety of essential oil use in dogs, but it is not that simple. Dogs have keen smell senses compared to you and I, making these oils much more potent for them and other furry friends. Not only do essential oils pack a powerful scent with each use, but they also absorb rapidly into the surface they are applied. Both of these qualities make them quite impressive for humans, but very risky for dogs.

Essential oils are supported by many, but lack enough medical research for safe use in dogs. While some holistic veterinarians may recommend the use of essential oils for some minor health conditions in animals, it is not enough to say they are 100% safe. Experts continue to research the effects of essential oil use in dogs, but there is not yet a large body of evidence to review.

If you are interested in using essential oils for any of your dog’s struggles, it’s important to always seek guidance from your veterinarian. Your vet may have experience with some essential oils that are free of harm, and can instruct you on how to use them in a safe way. You may find multiple articles stating the safety of these oils for our furry friends, but you should always speak with your vet before running with this advice.

What Essential Oils Are Bad For Dogs?

All essential oils have the potential to cause harm to our canine friends if used incorrectly, but there are a few essential oils that are known to be extremely dangerous. To help you offer a safe space for your furry friend, let's list the essential oils that are bad for dogs below.

Essential oils that are toxic to dogs include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Cinnamon
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang

The essential oils we have listed above have been linked to respiratory distress, serious skin irritation, liver damage, seizures, abnormal neurological behavior, and more. You may find conflicting evidence online due to the influx of natural pet health blogs, but it’s important to remember that the evidence above is supported by veterinary experts.

If you want further information about any of the essential oils we mentioned above, we recommend reaching out to your veterinarian for advice. They can help to offer their personal experience with the ingredients listed above, as well as point you in the direction of approved information for your dog’s needs.

Signs Of Essential Oil Toxicity

Essential oils will impact dogs in different ways based on how they are administered. Some pet owners will diffuse essential oils throughout their home for aromatherapy, while others will dilute the liquid and apply it to their dog’s skin. Each of these routes come with their own complications, and can result in serious discomfort for your furry friend. To help you better understand the potential risks, let’s break the complications down based on each route.

Topical application of essential oils in dogs has been linked to serious skin irritation, chemical burns, oral irritation (due to licking the oils), drooling, vomiting, tremors, lethargy, and more.

Diffusion of essential oils throughout your home can cause a few serious symptoms as well. This route of administration can lead to sneezing, coughing, respiratory distress, watery eyes, panting, drooling, vomiting, lethargy, wobbly gait, disorientation, and more.

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms after coming in contact with essential oils, it’s important to have them seen as soon as possible. Fast action is essential in preventing serious damage from these oils, and requires the assistance of a veterinarian.

Safety Tips For Using Essential Oils In Your Home

Essential oils are extremely popular, and many dog owners use them within their home. Due to the possible complications of these oils for our furry friends, it’s important to follow a few safety guidelines if they will be in close proximity to your pup. Though we always suggest speaking with your vet before using a new essential oil in your home, let’s list a few safety tips.

  • Always gets your vets approval before using essential oils around your dog
  • If you are using essential oils on yourself that are toxic to dogs, make sure the oils are completely absorbed or washed off your skin before handling your dog.
  • If your dog begins to show any irritation when diffusing oils in your home, take them out into fresh air ASAP and stop the diffuser.
  • Always contact your vet at the first sign of essential oil toxicity.
  • Keep all essential oils in an area that your dogs cannot reach, as essential oil ingestion can be extremely dangerous.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the use of essential oils in dogs is not a clear cut topic. If you are ever interested in using these oils around your furry friend, be sure to seek the advice of your veterinarian first.

Amber LaRock
Amber LaRock

Amber LaRock is a Licensed Vet Tech that took her career online to spread knowledge on animal health and welfare. She graduated from the Cedar Valley Veterinary Technology Program in 2015 with an A.A.S in Veterinary Technology, and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in Texas in 2016. Amber began her career in emergency medicine and critical care, and has now been working at an emergency animal hospital for 6 years. With the experience she gained from her time working in emergency medicine, Amber has been able to spread accurate information online in all realms of pet health. If she is not at her laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find her somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that she can find!



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