7 Essential Oils That Are Safe For Dogs (And 14 That Aren’t)

Here’s what to know before bringing essential oils into your house.

dog with essential oil diffuser

You might like to diffuse essential oils after cooking to get rid of the garlic smell or use lavender oil to relax before bed, but the next time you do, you should double-check that the oil you’re using is safe for your dog.

Many types of essential oils are bad for dogs, and your pup can get really sick from them.

“Despite essential oils being all natural and safe for humans to use in diffusers and on skin, they can be harmful to most pets, including dogs,” Dr. Alex Crow, a veterinarian with Happiest Dog, told The Dodo.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Crow and Dr. Sehaj Grewal, a veterinarian and CEO of The Melrose Vet, to find out what essential oils are bad for dogs and the symptoms of essential oil poisoning in dogs.

Why are some essential oils bad for dogs?

Essential oils are super concentrated forms of certain plants, such as eucalyptus, which makes them extremely potent.

“Essential oils are bad because pets are sensitive to them,” Dr. Grewal told The Dodo. “They can damage the respiratory tract, affect the nervous system and can lead to liver damage. They are harmful when applied topically or inhaled.”

Dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, so a scent that smells fine to you might be way too intense for your pup and might actually stress him out or even cause him to have difficulty breathing.

Using a diffuser for essential oils isn’t safe, either. Diffusers spray particles of the essential oils into the air, and your dog can breathe in droplets, or they can land on his fur, where they can irritate his skin. He can even ingest them if he licks himself.

And candles that contain essential oils are off limits, too, since they can have the same effect as a diffuser.

Which essential oils are safe for dogs?

There are some essential oils that can be safe to have around your dog, but be sure to double-check with your vet before using them. And keep in mind that while these oils aren’t toxic, they still aren’t safe for your pup to eat, and they should only be used sparingly.

Essential oils that are safe for dogs can have some benefits for your pup, such as reducing anxiety and treating skin conditions.

According to Dr. Grewal, here are some common essential oils that are safe for dogs:

Which essential oils are bad for dogs?

Here’s a list of essential oils that are toxic to dogs, according to Dr. Grewal:

  • Peppermint
  • Wintergreen
  • Pennyroyal
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cinnamon
  • Pine
  • Thyme
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Ylang ylang
  • Juniper
  • Citrus

Symptoms of essential oil poisoning in dogs

Signs of essential oil poisoning will vary based on a few factors, like the quantity of oil involved and whether your dog ate the oil, inhaled it or got it on his skin.

“Depending on how much was consumed or inhaled, essential oils can lead to gastrointestinal upset or liver issues, as the chemicals in the essential oil are metabolized [in the liver],” Dr. Crow said. “When placed on the skin, essential oils can severely irritate the area and cause burning and itchiness.”

According to Dr. Grewal and Dr. Crow, if your dog eats some essential oil, breathes it or gets some on his skin, symptoms can include:

  • Scent on his fur or breath
  • Skin or mouth irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble walking
  • Liver damage (in severe cases)

If you notice any of these symptoms of poisoning or you know that your pup got into some essential oil, contact your vet. If your dog gets oil on his skin or fur, you should also wash it off right away, and move your dog outside for fresh air if he inhaled the oil.

How to safely use essential oils around dogs

The most important thing to do to keep your pup safe is avoid bringing any poisonous essential oils into your house.

If you do use essential oils that are safe for dogs, store them far out of your dog’s reach so he can’t accidentally snack on them, and don’t keep the diffuser close to where your pup likes to hang out.

“Always be sure to keep any of these products out of reach of your dog, and if you do decide to use them, make sure [your dog’s] not close enough [to a diffuser] to be affected,” Dr. Crow said.

Not only should you avoid putting the diffuser near your dog’s bed, but you should also only use it for short periods of time and only in areas that are well ventilated.

“If a diffuser is used, make sure there is open air circulation, and make sure the pet is not confined in an area where the scent is concentrated,” Dr. Grewal said.

If you want to use a dog-safe essential oil on your pup for the health benefits, make sure you double-check with your vet first and dilute it before using it. “To use [them] safely, the safe oils should be diluted if used on the skin,” Dr. Grewal said.

While essential oils can smell great and be super calming, there are some that are dangerous for dogs. So if you want to use them, double-check that the ones you’re using are safe for dogs, and talk to your vet about it first.

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