Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?

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Essential oils have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. But when it comes to using essential oils with my dog, I did a bit (ok, I did A LOT) of research into oils because I wanted to make sure that anything I might potentially introduce into my home would be safe for all members of my family, including my dog.

What I found was shocking, and not in a good way.

As the popularity of essential oils grew, people began wondering, “are essential oils safe for dogs?” Many people equate “natural” with “safe”, but natural doesn’t always mean safe. You might be surprised to find out that not all essential oils are safe for dogs, and some may even be deadly.

image with text overlay: are essential oils safe for dog?

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 (even if you’re just using them on yourself). To date, there are over 3,000 different types of essential oils.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?

As 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 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.

So, are essentials oils safe for dogs? Like any question that concerns your dog’s health and potentially life, you should speak to your vet first. That means if you’re planning on making your own tick and flea prevention, want to help your dog relax or need to treat any skin irritation, and you’d prefer to try essentials oils, you should speak with your vet before introducing any types of oils to your dog.

And what about diffusing oils?

Diffusing oils can also be harmful to your pet. The best course of action is to consult your vet to see if there are any oils you can safely diffuse around your pet.

This Twitter user went viral after she sent out a dire warning to pet owners about her experience diffusing oils around her animals:

Image via Twitter

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 your dog when you have essential oils on your body can be harmful. As the oil to transfers to their skin, there’s a risk your dog could lick their skin and ingest the oil.

Risks of Essential Oils and Dogs

Essential oil poisoning in dogs in a very scary and real 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?

Since essential oil use around pets can be fatal, it’s best to speak directly to your vet. You should always do your research prior to diffusing or using oils around or on your dog. Certain essential oils are known to be harmful to dogs and should be avoided completely. 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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image with text overlay: essential oils that are toxic to dogs

Many oils are blends, meaning they contain several types of oils. Make sure you are checking each and every oil and oil blend you have before using it to see what ingredients it may contain.

After speaking with your vet, if you’ve chosen to use essential oils, it’s best to do so in a controlled environment where you can see how your pet reacts. 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.

What to use instead

L & E Candle Co is a candle company I recently came across. They make pet-safe candles so you can feel good knowing there aren’t any known toxic scents in the candles you are burning!

Even when introducing pet-safe candles to your pet, it’s still important to burn them in a well-ventilated and open room while keeping a close eye on your animal.

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Veterinary Disclaimer: is not a substitute for veterinary advice and does not intend to provide any type of veterinary advice for your animals. Please consult your vet for any questions you have regarding your pets health.