The Truth About Essential Oils: Are They Harmful or Toxic for Dogs?

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Increasing numbers of pet owners are using essential oils for a variety of reasons. However, some may not know that certain essential oils could pose serious risks to dogs if misused.

This article aims to clarify the potential dangers and safe usage of these potent extracts around your four-legged friends. Stay tuned; reading this could mean a world of difference for your dog’s health and safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Essential oils can pose potential risks to dogs if misused and should be used with caution around them.
  • Some essential oils, such as cinnamon, citrus, and tea tree oil, are toxic to dogs and should be avoided.
  • Certain essential oils, like lavender and chamomile oil, may be safe for dogs when used properly under the guidance of a veterinarian.
  • It is important to dilute essential oils before using them topically on dogs and to avoid sensitive areas like the eyes and ears.

Understanding Essential Oils


Essential oils are strong, scented liquids made from plants. They come from the plant’s leaves, flowers or roots by a way called steam distillation. Sometimes people get them out of the plant by mechanical expression.

These just mean that they either use heat and water or squishing to get oil from the plants.

People love essential oils because they smell nice and can help skin feel better. Others like using them to make their home smell good in a machine called a diffuser. But some may cause bad effects for dogs since they have very sharp noses and take smells very deep into their noses.

Dogs also soak up and break down things through their skin and liver different than humans do.

Are Essential Oils Toxic for Dogs

Potential Risks of Essential Oils for Dogs


Dogs may have differing reactions to essential oils compared to humans and can experience potential signs of essential oil poisoning, such as skin irritation, gastrointestinal upset, and liver disease.

Differing Reactions from Humans to Dogs

Dogs and people do not act the same way to essential oils. In humans, these oils can help with skin conditions or calm the nerves. But for dogs, they might face health risks. For example, some oils may upset a dog’s stomach or hurt their liver.

Dogs’ noses are also more sensitive than ours. Strong smells from essential oils may stress them out or make it hard for them to breathe.

The same oil can also work differently in dogs and humans because of how our bodies handle it. People’s systems take longer to break down and get rid of such substances than canine bodies do.

So what could be a helpful dose for you might end up being too much for your pet dog.

Possible Signs of Essential Oil Poisoning

Dogs can show signs of discomfort if they have been exposed to toxic essential oils. These signs may include:

  1. Red, watery eyes
  2. A runny nose
  3. Frequent sneezing
  4. Unusual coughing
  5. Trouble breathing
  6. Change in behavior like acting tired or not eating
  7. Problems with the central nervous system
  8. Skin irritation or rash
  9. Being sick to the stomach

Are Any Essential Oils Safe for Pets?


Some essential oils are considered safe for dogs, but it is important to use them with caution and under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Essential Oils Considered Toxic to Dogs

Some essential oils are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Here are the essential oils that can be harmful to your dog:

  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Pine oil
  • Sweet birch oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Ylang ylang oil

Essential Oils Potentially Safe for Dogs

Some essential oils may be safe for dogs when used properly. Here are a few examples:

  • Lavender oil: This oil is known for its calming effects and can help soothe dogs with anxiety or stress.
  • Chamomile oil: Similar to lavender, chamomile oil can have a calming effect on dogs and may promote relaxation.
  • Frankincense oil: This oil has been used for centuries for various health benefits and may help support a dog’s immune system.
  • Cedarwood oil: Cedarwood oil is often used in natural flea and tick control products and can help repel these pests.
  • Peppermint oil (in small amounts): Peppermint oil can be beneficial for relieving nausea or digestive issues in dogs, but it should be used sparingly.

How to Use Essential Oils Safely Around Dogs


To use essential oils safely around dogs, it is important to follow a few key tips.

Tips for Safe Diffusion

To safely diffuse essential oils around your dogs, consider the following tips:

  1. Choose dog-safe essential oils: Use essential oils that are considered safe for dogs, such as lavender oil. Avoid using toxic oils like cinnamon, citrus, and tea tree.
  2. Dilute the essential oil: Mix a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, before diffusing. This helps to lower the concentration of the oil and reduce the risk of irritation.
  3. Use a proper diffuser: Invest in a high-quality diffuser specifically designed for use with essential oils. Avoid using passive diffusers, reed diffusers, or oil warmers as they can increase the risk of overexposure.
  4. Monitor your dog’s behavior: Pay attention to how your dog reacts to the scent of the diffused oil. If they show signs of discomfort like sneezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing, remove them from the area immediately.
  5. Limit exposure time: Do not continuously diffuse essential oils around your dogs for long periods. Allow breaks between diffusing sessions to prevent overexposure.
  6. Provide good ventilation: Ensure there is proper air circulation in the room where you are diffusing essential oils. Open windows or use fans to help disperse any lingering scent.

Precautions for Topical Application

When applying essential oils topically to dogs, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure their safety. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Dilute the essential oil: Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be too strong for a dog’s sensitive skin. Always dilute the oil with a carrier oil before applying it topically. The general rule of thumb is to use one drop of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
  2. Conduct a patch test: Before applying the diluted essential oil to your dog’s skin, perform a patch test on a small area first. This will help you determine if your dog has any adverse reactions or sensitivities to the oil.
  3. Avoid sensitive areas: When applying the diluted essential oil, avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, ears, and genital area. Focus on areas with less fur where absorption is better, such as the paw pads or thinly haired areas on the body.
  4. Observe your dog’s reaction: After applying the diluted essential oil, closely monitor your dog for any signs of discomfort or irritation. If you notice redness, swelling, itching, or any other unusual reactions, discontinue use immediately and consult with a veterinarian.
  5. Use gentle massage techniques: When applying the diluted essential oil, use gentle and calming massage techniques. This will not only help distribute the oil evenly but also provide relaxation benefits for your dog.
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  • Pumpkin Pet Insurance

What to Do if Your Dog Ingests Essential Oil

If your dog ingests essential oil, it is crucial to take immediate action to minimize the potential harm.

Immediate Steps to Take

If your dog has ingested essential oils, it’s important to take immediate action. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Stay calm and assess the situation.
  2. Call your veterinarian or a pet poison control hotline for guidance.
  3. Provide information about the type of essential oil ingested, the amount, and any symptoms your dog is experiencing.
  4. Do not induce vomiting unless specifically instructed by a professional.
  5. If directed to do so, administer activated charcoal to help absorb any remaining essential oil in your dog’s system.
  6. Monitor your dog closely for any changes in behavior or symptoms.
  7. Keep all packaging and containers of the essential oil within reach, as they may contain vital information for treatment purposes.
  8. Follow all instructions given by your veterinarian or pet poison control center.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

If your dog shows any symptoms of essential oil exposure, it is important to seek veterinary help immediately. These symptoms may include red, watery eyessneezingcoughingdifficulty breathing, drooling, and redness around the lips, eyes or nose.

Prompt veterinary attention is crucial for ensuring the well-being of your pet and preventing any potential complications. Remember that some essential oils can be toxic to dogs and their reactions may vary from humans.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your furry friend’s health.

Preventing Essential Oil Poisoning in Dogs

To prevent essential oil poisoning in dogs, it’s crucial to use these oils safely. Essential oils should never be applied directly to a dog’s skin without dilution or ingested by dogs unless under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Keep all essential oils stored safely out of reach from your furry friends since most of them are very sensitive to them and may try to lick or ingest them. Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or adverse reactions such as red, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing after using essential oils around your dog.

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed to an essential oil and is showing symptoms like these, contact a veterinarian immediately for further advice and assistance. Remember that prevention is key when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of our beloved pets.


In conclusion, it’s important for dog owners to understand the potential risks associated with using essential oils around their pets. While some essential oils can be safe and beneficial for dogs when used properly, others can be harmful or toxic.

It is crucial to consult with a veterinarian before using any essential oils on or around your dog to ensure their safety and well-being. Remember, when it comes to essential oil use with dogs, caution and professional guidance are key.


1. Are essential oils harmful or toxic for dogs?

Yes, certain essential oils can be harmful or toxic to dogs. It is important to research and consult with a veterinarian before using any essential oils around your dog.

2. Which essential oils should I avoid using around my dog?

Some common essential oils that are toxic or harmful to dogs include tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and citrus oils. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid using any essential oils around your dog unless advised by a veterinarian.

3. What are the signs of toxicity in dogs from exposure to essential oils?

Signs of toxicity in dogs from exposure to essential oils may include drooling, vomiting, lethargy, difficulty breathing, tremors, or even seizures. If you notice any of these symptoms after using an essential oil near your dog, seek immediate veterinary care.

4. Can I use any type of essential oil safely around my dog?

While some diluted and properly used essential oils may be safe for dogs under the guidance of a veterinarian, it is generally recommended to exercise caution and avoid exposing your dog to most types of essential oils due to their potential risks



Hello! I'm Isabelle Espinal, but most people call me "Belle". Born in the vibrant city of Montreal, I've been blessed with a rich heritage, thanks to my French Canadian and Dominican roots. This blend of cultures and traditions ignited my passion for holistic healing from a young age. Over the years, I've delved deep into the realms of Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Naturopathy, Biodanza, and others. But my heart has always been drawn to the transformative power of essential oils. Through Essential Oils Insights, I share my travels, experiences, and the aromatic wonders I discover along the way. I invite you to join me on this sensory journey, as we explore the essence of well-being together.

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