The Many Perks of Essential Oils for Dogs

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By: Kathryn Anderson Updated: April 21, 2021

The Many Perks of Essential Oils for DogsEssential oils are wonderful. People have been using them for thousands of years because of their long list of medicinal properties. The good news is: essential oils for dogs can be extremely helpful. The bad news: using them incorrectly can have fatal consequences for dogs.

If you are considering using essential oils for your dogs, just do your homework first. Learn about which oils are safe, and how to safely use them for your dogs!

What Are Essential Oils for Dogs?

Humans use essential oils for a myriad of reasons. Not only do many of these oils have incredible medicinal properties, they can also have amazing calming and therapeutic effects. Some essential oils are often used to repel insects.

Selection of essential oils on a wooden table, essential oils and dogs

There are many essential oils that are safe for human use. The kinds safe for our canine counterparts; however, are far fewer in numbers. Nonetheless, the essential oils which are safe for dogs, when used correctly, can have a massive impact on your dog’s health and well-being.

Calming, Allergies, & Fleas! Why Are Pet Owners Using Essential Oils for Dogs?

Pet owners are using essential oils because they are a natural, affordable and effective way to treat certain conditions.

You absolutely have to get the OK from your vet before using essential oils to treat your dog. Once you have the go ahead, you can, for example, safely give your dog lavender to ease travel anxiety.

You can go ahead with the blend of oils you’ve mixed in a spray bottle to soothe your dogs itchy skin!

The same goes for pest and parasite control. Once your vet has given you the thumbs up on a homemade insect repellent with essential oils, ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes will be forced to move on to less smelly pastures.

Essential Oils Safe for Dogs

Essential oils are either inhaled, ingested or are applied topically. Regardless of how you use the oils, they will inevitably be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream, and make their way to various bodily destinations such as the liver and the kidneys. Some can do good, others can do serious damage to these organs.

The first thing to know about safely using essential oils for dogs is that they should never be used in their pure form. They should always be diluted.

Then there is the question of how to give it to your dog. Some oils may be relatively safe when applied topically but are incredibly toxic when ingested.

Other oils should be avoided completely because so much as the smell of it (think liquid potpourri and diffusers) can irritate or even burn your dog’s airways. Think about it, their sense of smell is about a bazillion times stronger than ours, so what smells great to us could quite likely be a more than unpleasant stank to them.

A Brief List of Essential Oils Bad for Dogs

Don’t take a chance on oils that are labeled unsafe for your dog. There are thousands of online posts and articles whose “safe” and “not safe” lists are downright simply wrong. Yet another reason to always check with your vet first.

You may find a pet product that contains an essential oil listed on every “Toxic for Dogs” list you’ve seen. Maybe the company has found a safe way of administering it. But maybe, the company has hitched its wagon to the “natural” trend train and is only interested in financial gains.

An example of pet product companies cashing in on well-meaning pet parents is Pennyroyal. It’s used in many natural flea repellent pet products. It is also toxic to dogs and damages their liver and kidneys.

The following essential oils may be toxic to your dog when used incorrectly:

  • Anise
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Clove leaf/bud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic oil (or any other form of garlic for that matter)
  • Horseradish
  • Juniper
  • Oregano
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tarragon
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Yarrow
  • Ylang Ylang

Some of these essential oils are brilliant for human use. Take Tea Tree oil for example. It is an antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal miracle oil. It’s a human cure-all.

Also: it can kill your dog.

What Works Best! Safe Essential Oils for Dogs

How to Safely Give Your Dog Essential Oils

Whether you are planning on using the essential oil in a spray bottle, diffuser, shampoo, dry shampoo, or ointment, be sure to dilute it to a safe concentration. You can dilute it either with water or a carrier oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil or sunflower oil.

Avoid giving your dog any essential oils orally, unless you’ve discussed it with your veterinarian.

Hydrosols (spritz bottles infused with essential oils) are a great way of getting your dog to inhale safe, diluted quantities of essential oil blends.

Make sure that your essential oil concentration is appropriate for the size, age, and condition of your dog. These oils aren’t safe for young puppies or dogs with a compromised state of health.

Avoid getting essential oils (in any form) anywhere near your dog’s eyes, nose, mouth or nether regions. The burn is real.

What’s Inside? What to Look Out for When Choosing a Product

Let’s get back to how many companies out there care very little about the well-being of your dog, but care very much about the cash you give them.

If you are looking into giving your dog essential oils to improve their health, chances are you care about their well-being a whole lot. Follow those good intentions up with some effort in finding a safe, therapeutic grade, high-quality product.

Here are is a checklist for a responsibly sourced essential oil product for your dog:

  • Ingredients – Look for that 100% pure sign. If it’s not pure, they should list what carrier oils (or other ingredients) have been used to dilute it.
  • Name – Any decent brand of repute will use the common name as well as the Latin name on the label. Look for: Lavender (lavendulaangustifolia).
  • Price – If the price is too nice, don’t trust it. It takes a LOT of plants to create a small amount of pure essential oil. If the oil is too cheap, chances are manufacturers have taken shortcuts. A small bottle of good, therapeutic grade essential oil will go a very long way, so it’s a good investment.
  • Method – A trustworthy company selling pet products will proudly tell you the method in which the oil was manufactured as well as which parts of the plants they used.

Examples of Essential Oils Safe for Dogs

  • Cardamom
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • German Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Myrrh
  • Neem
  • Niaouli
  • Ravensare
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Lavender
  • Fennel
  • Helichrysm
  • Frankincense
  • Spearmint
  • Valerian

Note that Eucalyptus is on this list as well as the “Not Safe” list. When applied topically with a safe concentration, eucalyptus oil does wonders to repel insects and soothe itchy skin or insect bites, but it’s toxic when ingested.

There are many essential oils that appear on many “safe” and “not safe” lists. The lack of consensus is probably due to the fact that using essential oils for dogs medicinally is a more recent practice. It is an uncharted territory with few studies to give us a definite “Yes” or “No”.

11 Uses of Essential Oils for Dogs

  1. Anti-inflammatory
  2. Antiseptic
  3. Anti-fungal
  4. Antiviral
  5. Help manage allergies and itchy skin
  6. Help manage arthritis and joint pain
  7. Immune system support
  8. Repels ticks and fleas
  9. Repels mosquitoes
  10. Reduce anxiety levels
  11. Treat ear infections

A Natural Bug Repellent? Essential Oils for Fleas and Ticks on Dogs

There are essential oils which make for the best, safe, natural bug repellent. There are sadly also many essential oils which are great for repelling insects but are not at all healthy for your dog.

It’s shocking that companies are successfully selling pet products containing harmful essential oils because they are “natural”.

*cough* Pennyroyal *cough*

Luckily, there are a few safe options for pet parents who like to take the natural route.

Here are some essential oils that are effective mosquito repellents:

Citronella essential oil and fresh leaves on a wooden surface

  • Citronella
  • Fennel
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Eucalyptus

Essential Oils for Fleas on Dogs

Not only are there many essential oils which can repel fleas, there are also many that can help deal with the aftermath of an attack from fleas. Any pet parent who has suffered the bite of a flea can relate to that itch. Unlike you, however, your dog cannot simply go to the medicine cabinet and pick up the anti-itch ointment.

These essential oils are safe for dogs and can soothe their itchy skin:

  • Basil
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Neem
  • Rosemary

What About Ticks? Essential Oils for Ticks on Dogs

Ticks? No problem! There are a bunch of natural essential oils and that are effective in repelling ticks:

  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass

Solve the Problem to Your Anxious Pooch! Essential Oils for Dogs Anxiety

Dogs are no different to humans when it comes to experiencing anxiety. The difference is, often we have coping mechanisms at our disposal which they don’t. Anyone who knows their dog well will notice or anticipate their anxiety triggers and anxiety levels.

There are essential oils which have (scientifically proven) calming and stress-reducing effects on humans. Some of these oils have the same calming effect on dogs.

If your dog is a nervous traveler, scared of thunder, or suffers from separation anxiety, there are essential oils that can help ease their stress levels.

Calming Essential Oils for Dogs

  • Lavender
  • Valerian
  • Rescue Remedy – Sneaking this one in, but it is a safe, incredibly effective product that has been tried and tested and has not been found wanting.

Allergy Season? Essential Oils for Dogs Allergies

Allergy season is no fun for anyone. Allergic reactions are often triggered by allergens which can be identified and removed, such as dust or perhaps a cleaning product.

Pollen, however, is more difficult to avoid. Spring seems to be an annual sort of occurrence.

Sure, you could keep your dog inside with all doors and windows closed, and the air purifier on high 24/7 for a few months.

But your dog is not Bubble Boy, and he needs outside time.

How It Can Help! Essential Oil for Dogs Skin Allergies

Most allergic reactions can be narrowed down to an immune response to the allergen, causing your dog’s skin to become itchy.

Some essential oils contain useful soothing anti-inflammatory properties. Others can be used to boost your dog’s immune system. Some might do wonders for keeping your dog’s skin and coat happy, healthy and shiny.

Omega-rich oils such as Fish Oil and Salmon Oil can help treat allergies from the inside. (You hardly want to apply that stuff topically!)

Using essential oil hydrosols, shampoos or ointments can go a long way to help reduce itching and inflamed skin.

Oils and Treats! What Products Work Best for Treating the Allergies, Pain, and Restoring the Dry Skin

Vets Preferred Premium Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

Vets Preferred Premium Wild Alaskan is the best of the best when the itching doesn’t stop because it:

  • Helps relieve dry, itchy skin → no more excessive itching
  • Moisturizes and soothes your pet’s skin from the inside out → helps achieve a soft, glossy coat
  • Perfect for dogs struggling with seasonal allergies → less itching, runny nose, and overall irritants
  • Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory → desire & ability to be more active

Honest Paws Restore CBD Dog Treats

Dogs itch.

Their digestive health sometimes fails them causing them to be nauseous or unable to eat certain foods. They might be allergic or have skin allergies with dry, itchy skin. Their coats become a little dry due to the fleas and ticks.

If your dog does or has anything of the above, consider Honest Paws Restore CBD Dog Treats.

Honest Paws Restore CBD Dog Treats helps with allergies. No one should have to endure pain, especially our fur-babies.

With these delicious treats, your pooch has a fighting chance to feel good and lead a happier life.

Besides, most pet owners claim they would die for their dog so surely they will do anything in their power to ease their pain.

Got an Itchy Pup? Essential Oils for Dogs Itchy Skin

Another problem with seasonal allergies is that it almost always means managing their itchy skin with medication. Giving your dog allergy medication in the short term is not the end of the world.

But what if they are itching for months at a time?

This is where essential oils can be a great help in lessening the need for allergy medication such as cortisone or antihistamines.

Best Essential Oils for Dogs Itchy Skin:

  • Carrot Seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile (German and Roman)
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Niaouli
  • Sweet Marjoram

Pros and Cons of Essential Oils for Dogs Ears

Essential oils can go a long way to help manage some of the symptoms of ear infections in dogs. You need to be well informed about how to use them safely. And with the blessing of your vet.

Remember that essential oils need to be diluted to a safe level and that although you are applying them topically, they are still quickly absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream.

Beware of articles boasting of ingredients such as Tea Tree Oil being great for healing ear and yeast infections. Chances are, it might not be a very safe option.

Antibiotics Vs Essential Oils! Essential Oils for Dogs Ear Infection

No matter how wonderful home remedies and essential oils are, in some cases, your dog will need antibiotics. Yes, some medical conditions can absolutely be treated with home remedies and essential oils. But unless you are a vet, you shouldn’t make that call.

You may not always agree with your veterinarian’s approach to pushing for modern medicine. Just remember that but they are bound by oath to do what is in the best interest of the dog and know a whole lot more about all things dogs than you (or most people on the internet) do.

Ear infections can be serious. If your dog has an ear infection you’ll want to turn to scientific knowledge, not public opinion.

The Pooch with Joint Problems! Essential Oils for Arthritis in Dogs

Nobody likes to see their doggo in pain. There are a few pet parents who swear by using essential oils to help ease joint pain and arthritis.

Here are some examples of pain relieving essential oils that can help reduce inflammation in dogs:

  • Ginger
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Answering Our Top FAQ on Essential Oils for Dogs

1. Are essential oils safe for dogs?

Some are. Others aren’t. Some are safe in one form but not in another.

Do not make the mistake to assume that natural is synonymous with safe. Anything Mother Nature created deserves a healthy dose of respect.

Note: Dogs and cats do not react the same way to essential oils. Cats are often far more sensitive to the oils than dogs and don’t tolerate the same oils as their canine frenemies.

2. Are essential oils not safe for dogs with blood clotting problem?

Again, some oils are, and others aren’t.

There are oils that inhibit blood clotting, which can be dangerous for dogs with certain medical conditions, or dogs that are injured or need surgery. They could easily bleed out if their blood is too thin because of the essential oils you gave them.

3. Does it work? Essential oils for dog’s hot spots

They can help treat the symptoms, but if you can’t get the hotspot under control, you’ll need to take them to the vet.

4. What is doTERRA essential oils for dogs?

doTERRA is a popular brand of essential oils. They produce high-quality therapeutic grade essential oils.

Here’s Our Pick of the Best Essential Oils for Dogs!

  • Cedarwood
  • Citronella
  • Lavender
  • Frankincense

Essential Oils for Dogs! A Hit or A Miss Among Pet Owners

Home remedies and alternative medicine aren’t for everyone. But it really is worth giving it a try.

Your dog might absolutely hate essential oils, in which case you shouldn’t force it on them. Some dogs might not mind though, and can massively benefit from the medicinal and therapeutic benefits these oils have to offer.

Common Questions on Essential Oils for Dogs

I read somewhere that tea tree oil is great for itchy dogs. Is this true?

When applying essential oil to my dog, do I just take little droplets from the bottle or need to measure it first?

My dog hates riding in the car. Is there a specific essential oil I can give him?

If my cat gets scared in a thunderstorm, can I give her the same essential oil as I gave my stressed-out dog?

My dog now seems fine once I treated his itchy ear he has been scratching for days with essential oils. Do I still need to visit the vet?

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