Your Guide to Essential Oils and Dogs

Your Guide to Essential Oils and Dogs

Do you love dogs and natural wellness products? What can we say, you’ve got great taste! Essential oils come with a multitude of wellness benefits, but it’s important to remember that they don’t always promote your dog’s wellness. Dogs – like cats and other pets – are much more sensitive to smells than humans. An essential oil that you use for daily aromatherapy might be overwhelming or even harmful to your dog. Likewise, using essential oils on your dogs comes with serious warnings. Keep reading to understand more about keeping your dog safe around essential oils. 


What to know about essential oils and dogs 

Whether they are cute and small or look big and tough, dogs of all shapes and sizes are much more easily affected by substances that they inhale or ingest than we are. If you have dogs (or other pets – you can read our guide to safely using essential oils around cats here) around, it’s important to keep in mind that an essential oil you’re diffusing or wearing on your skin might smell nice to you, but be irritating or even harmful to your pooch. Even dog-safe essential oils should be used around dogs in moderation, and should never be ingested by your pet. In general, essential oils should never be applied topically to dogs unless approved by your veterinarian. 


Which essential oils are harmful to dogs? 

Some essential oils are harmful for dogs even to inhale. That means that you should avoid diffusing or wearing these essential oils where and when your dogs are present: 


  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot, etc)
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint 
  • Pine 
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tea tree 
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang 
  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Yarrow
  • Garlic

Which essential oils pose less risk to dogs? 

Note: This list contains essential oils that are *generally* safe to diffuse around dogs. They should still be used with caution and you should observe your dog for signs of irritation. We do not recommend applying essential oils topically to dogs without the supervision of your veterinarian. And dogs should never ingest essential oils. 

Dog-safe essential oils are generally okay to diffuse around your dogs in moderation. But even these safer oils should not be ingested by your dogs. You also shouldn’t apply dog-safe essential oils topically on your dog without the express approval of your veterinarian. It’s also best to limit the diffusing of dog-safe essential oils to 1-2 hours per day if your dogs are around. And when you diffuse essential oils with your pets around, always make sure there is adequate ventilation and a way for your dog to leave the room if they find the smell unpleasant. 


What if my dog ingests or inhales essential oils that are toxic to them? 

If you suspect that your dog has ingested essential oils – or inhaled oils that are toxic to them, call your veterinarian right away! You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435. 


The following are some of the possible symptoms of essential oil poisoning in pets: 

  • Fragrance of the oil on your pet’s fur or breath
  • Redness in and/or around their mouth
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Irregular heart rhythm 
  • Drooling 
  • Fatigue 
  • Difficulty walking, muscle tremors, or lack of coordination 
  • Agitation, restlessness, or hyperactivity 
  • Pawing at their mouth or face
  • Watery or irritated eyes and nose
  • Dark mucous membrane
  • Vomiting or retching
  • Green or black urine 
  • Shock 
  • Changes in behavior 

Safety tips for using essential oils with dogs

  • Be cautious of letting your dog lick you where you have applied essential oils to your skin. Remember, even essential oils that are safe for your dog to inhale are not safe for your dog to ingest. 
  • Even when using dog-safe essential oils, limit diffusing to 1-2 hours per day. 
  • You should never leave your dog confined to a space where oils are being diffused. Always make sure that the dog can leave the room to get away from the diffuser.
  • Keep essential oil bottles and products that contain essential oils out of your dog’s reach.
  • Remember that even products that contain trace amounts of essential oils – such as air fresheners or cleaning sprays – can be harmful to dogs. Check the ingredients before using them around your pets.  
  • Know the signs of your dog ingesting toxic essential oils. 
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