Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?

Dana NicoleDog Safety

Essential oils have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. Touted as being a natural replacement to some types of medication, aromatherapy and household cleaners, people have begun using essential oils in an effort to reduce the amount of chemical products they use.

And while essential oils are safe for humans to use, are essential oils safe for dogs?

You might be surprised to find out that not all essential oils are safe for dogs, and some may even be deadly.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are a concentrated compound from plants. The name “essential” comes from the oil being derived from essential parts of the plant such as the:

  • fruit
  • seeds
  • stems
  • bark
  • flowers
  • roots
  • leaves

Because they are concentrated, they are quite strong and you should do research prior to using them.

To date, there are over 3,000 different types of essential oils.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?

Some essential oils are safe for dogs and others aren’t.

Like mentioned above, essential oils can be fateful for both dogs and cats when used incorrectly. I will only be talking about dogs and essential oils in this article, so if you have a cat, you should read up on the effects essential oils can have on cats as it differs from dogs.

The reason that us humans can tolerate essential oils more than our furry friends is that our animals are much more sensitive to them and absorb them much quicker

Cats, in particular, do not have the liver enzymes that humans do in order to process essential oils which can result in liver failure.

And as always, you should consult your veterinarian before changing or adding anything new to your dogs routine (including essential oils).

Another thing to note is that if you are using essential oils on your own body, it’s best to let them absorb before handling your dog. Petting them can cause the oil to transfer to their skin, and even a few licks from them on the applied area to you can cause sickness.

Risks of Essential Oils and Dogs

Essential oil poisoning in dogs in a very scary risk. If you are using essential oils around your dog and you notice any of the below signs, contact your vet (or an emergency vet) and poison control immediately:

  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Throwing up
  • Muscle tremors
  • Lower body temperature
  • Acting strange
  • Inability or difficulty walking
  • Pawing at mouth or face
  • Difficulty breathing

Should You Use Essential Oils For Your Dog?

So, are essential oils safe for dogs? Yes, they can be when used correctly but they can also be fatal. You should always do your research prior to diffusing or using oils around or on your dog. Certain oils are known to be harmful to dogs. This includes (but is not limited to):

  1. Anise
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Citrus
  4. Clove
  5. Garlic
  6. Juniper
  7. Oregano
  8. Pennyroyal
  9. Peppermint
  10. Pine
  11. Rosemary
  12. Sweet birch
  13. Tea tree
  14. Thyme
  15. Wintergreen
  16. Yarrow
  17. Ylang ylang

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Make sure you are checking each and every oil and oil blend you have before using it.

There is also a lot of conflicting information about what oils are safe for dogs and what are not, which is why it’s always best to contact your vet for a professional opinion.

After speaking with your vet, if you’ve chosen to use essential oils make sure you are doing so in a controlled environment.

For example, do not diffuse a new oil when you are not home to watch your dog. Make sure you are diffusing an oil in an open room and that you are making note of any adverse reactions your dog has.

If you notice your dog showing any symptoms of essential oil poisoning, contact help immediately.

For more detailed information on using essential oils for your dog, check out Julie Summers’ book Essential Oil Recipes for Dogs.

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