You don’t need your dog’s powerful nose to want to keep your home smelling nice. Essential oils can make your home smell like a field of flowers or a potpourri of spices. They also have medicinal qualities. But can you use essential oils for dogs?
Essential Oils – The Basics
If you’re not caught up on your understanding of aromatherapy, that’s OK. Here’s your guide with basic information about essential oils for dogs (and people).
- Plants develop several traits to ward off pests and attract pollinating insects. The smells that plants use can be distilled into essential oils. These are concentrated oils that carry the scents from these plants.1
- Aromatherapy is the medicinal use of essential oils as natural remedies. Aromatherapy has been around for a long time. It’s used for physical conditions, but also mental and emotional ailments.2
- Some essential oil products are strictly regulated. Others have less strict restrictions.3 You may see greatly varying results from one essential oil brand to the next.4
- Essential oils are highly concentrated. When using them, dilute only a few essential oil drops into oil or water. Never touch pure essential oil with your bare skin and never consume them.5
- Essential oils can be applied to your skin when diluted in oil, but it’s also common to diffuse essential oils. An essential oil diffuser evaporates water with diluted essential oils into the air. This allows you to inhale the oil.6
- Before using an essential oil, think of the needs of all your home’s residents. Essential oils are usually safe for people and dogs. Cats, though, are highly sensitive to some oils, and oils should never be diffused near birds.7
Aromatherapy with essential oils can be a powerful natural remedy. But your dog might respond to essential oils in an unexpected way. Always talk to your vet before you begin using essential oils for dogs.
Avoid These Essential Oils that Are Dangerous for Dogs
Some essential oils have benefits for people but can make your dog sick. Don’t use these oils if your pup is around. Never diffuse essential oils that are toxic to dogs.
- Peppermint is a natural flea repellant, but it’s also toxic to dogs. Most dogs find peppermint unpleasant, and it could make your dog feel stressed.8
- You may like having a pine-fresh home, but pine essential oil is toxic to dogs. This oil can lead to vomiting, excessive drooling, and weakness. Avoid using pine essential oils around your dog. This includes cleaning products with artificial pine scent.9
- Many common scents can be dangerous to your dog, even if you dilute them. Beware of cinnamon, garlic, or thyme oils.10
Symptoms of exposure to toxic essential oils include:
- Pawing at the face and mouth
- Difficulty breathing
If you see any of these behaviors, call a vet immediately.
Always do your research before trying a new scent. Peppermint, pine, garlic, and cinnamon are just a few of several essential oils toxic to dogs. And remember that it only takes a few essential oil drops to disperse through a whole room.
Safe Essential Oils for Your Dog
So, you’ve talked with your vet, and you want to try essential oils for your dog. The next question is what scent to use. Essential oils for dogs have different medicinal benefits.
- Lavender oil is one of the most used essential oils. A lavender essential oil can reduce anxiety and help your dog sleep.12 It can also help your dog stay calm in the car and prevent car sickness.13
- Cardamom essential oil may help regulate your dog’s appetite. It should NOT be consumed. Instead, put a few drops of cardamom oil into your essential oil diffuser for best results.14
- Marjoram has calming properties. It also repels insects, which makes it a great choice for an anxious or a flea-prone pup.15
- Fennel has many health benefits. It can help break down toxins and regulate your pup’s glands. Even though fennel is derived from an edible plant, you should still dilute it when you use it.16
- Helichrysum may help your dog fight off bacteria or infections. Helichrysum is one of many powerful natural remedies derived from essential oil.17
- Orange repels fleas and will calm nervous dogs. It is also a strong deodorizer, so you’ll like using this oil if you find your house musty, or if you pup gets smelly.18
- Frankincense can help boost your dog’s immune system to fight off serious disease. Frankincense also has calming properties. It pairs well with lavender oil to calm an anxious or stressed dog.19
- Spearmint helps regulate your dog’s appetite. If your dog is overweight or has an unhealthy diet, spearmint might help resolve those issues.20
- Chamomile can calm an anxious pup and reduce pain. It’s also a gentler oil. This makes it an ideal essential oil for a dog sensitive to these kinds of scents.21
You can blend different oils for a potpourri of scents and natural remedies. Try pairing diluted lavender oil with spearmint or fennel oil for a sweet, fresh scent. Blend based on complementary scents, or mix and match according to medical benefits.
You and your dog may find you share a favorite scent once you start using essential oils for dogs!
How to Safely Use Aromatherapy for Dogs
Just as your dog has different dietary needs from you, they also have a different sense of smell. Consider whether your favorite essential oil will improve Fido’s health, or make it worse.
- Your dog should never eat essential oils. Don’t add essential oils to your dog’s food or water. When your oils aren’t in use, make sure they’re stored somewhere out of your pup’s reach.22
- Some dogs enjoy essential oils applied to their skin, but do this with caution. They can hurt your dog’s skin, and your dog may lick the oil off. Only apply diluted oils to your dog’s skin under a vet’s supervision, and avoid essential oils toxic to dogs.23
You can spritz essential oil drops for dogs on your dog’s bedding or crate.
- Calming oils are a popular choice to help anxious dogs relax in a safe space. Always dilute these oils in a carrier oil that is safe for dogs before you spray them. Only use essential oils safe for dogs.24
- The safest way to expose your dog to essential oils is to diffuse oils into the air. This method minimizes the risk that your dog will eat or touch the oils. Only use essential oils safe for dogs.
- Even inhaling toxic scents can be dangerous to your pup.25
- Some healthy essential oils can be risky for certain dogs. Use extra caution if you have a puppy, an elderly dog, or a dog with liver disease. The best way to determine if essential oils will be helpful or harmful to your dog is to talk to a veterinarian.26
- Your dog’s nose is more sensitive than yours. What may seem like a mild scent to you can be overwhelming to your dog. Watch for signs of distress like aggression or unusual sleepiness after you begin use of an essential oil diffuser.27,28
If you want to try essential oils for dogs, talk to your veterinarian first. Even if you diffuse essential oils, they may be risky. This is especially true if your pup has respiratory issues.
Always Be Safe
Essential oils can be a powerful tool to improve your dog’s health, but they can also be risky. Don’t introduce them into your home without talking to your vet first. Make sure, also, that the essential oils are diluted.
Once you’ve received the go-ahead, you (and your pup) can enjoy essential oils for dogs.