Essential Oils for Dogs

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / February 27, 2018
Essential Oils for dogs

Essential oils for dogs! Is it a hit or a miss? For centuries, people have been using essential oils to treat various diseases, but is it plausible to suggest that essential oils are actually effective? They seem to have many benefits for humans—so, perhaps they may be beneficial to pets?

oils for dogs

What Are Essential Oils for Dogs?

From lavender to coconut oil, essential oils have been perhaps the most talked about herbal remedy! But, what exactly are essential oils?  Essential oils are volatile, aromatic compounds that come from various parts of a plant. For instance, seeds, bark, flowers, and roots may all contribute to the production of essential oils.

Scientifically speaking, we call these compounds volatile as they can switch quickly from a solid to a liquid or gas state. So, essential oils are simply oils that have been extracted either by steaming, cold pressing, or distillation. Today, essential oils are widely used in the cosmetic industry! If you use soap, make-up, or perfume, chances are you’re using essential oils!

Why Are Pet Owners Using Essential Oils for Dogs?

The most common use of essential oils in humans is for aromatherapy. Also known as essential oil therapy, here essential oils are used therapeutically to improve the psychological state of mind. However, in recent times, pet owners and scientist have used essential oils to treat more physical and physiological problems seen in animals and humans.

review based study done in 2015 stated that essential oils can have many medicinal properties. Here’s what they concluded:

  • Lavender oil has antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
  • Eucalyptus oil has strong cytotoxic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects against various bacterial strains.
  • Clove oil, cinnamon oil, and lemon oil have been used to treat dental problems.

Although this study looked at the uses of essential oils for humans, it is important to remember that the properties of essential oils for pets correlate quite well. Using essential oils for dogs ensures pet owners that they are using quality, natural remedies that are sure to help their pet recover with very few adverse effects.

Essential Oils to Avoid

It’s important to remember that our pets are quite sensitive, so certain essential oils can be either irritating or toxic to them. Here is a list of all the possible essential oils that are unsafe for dogs and cats.

  • Cinnamon oil:  Cinnamon itself can be a healthy component you can add to your dog’s diet! But, overdosing on the essential oil can be toxic.
  • Garlic oil: Garlic, onions, or members of the same family are considered toxic substances to dogs. Therefore, it is plausible to state that the derivitive—garlic oil, would be bad for dogs.
  • Eucalyptus oil is considered toxic to dogs and cats
  • Tea Tree oil is also considered unsafe for dogs, particularly if it’s not diluted properly. Be careful with this one! It can be good for dogs but only if used properly.
  • Citronella oil actually comes from lemongrass! It’s widely used as an insect repellent and isn’t considered toxic. But, citronella oil can smell quite strong and so dogs may get irritated by it.

What Works Best! Safe Essential Oils for dogs

There are many puptastic oils you can safely use for your dog. Since there are simply too many oils to list, we’ve narrowed the list of safe essential oils to our three favorites:

  1.  Cedarwood oil can be safely applied topically on dogs who do are not sensitive. You can also use Ceder oil as a flea and tick repellent!
  2. Frankincense oil is a non-toxic oil that is known to have antibacterial effects, making it purrrfect for wound care and healing.
  3.  Peppermint oil! Peppermint oil, in small amounts, is actually used to cool down dogs, making it a great analgesic! So next time your dog gets overheated after a long walk, try this essential oil!

Uses of Essential Oils for Dogs

Todays Millennials seem to have a strong drive towards natural health care for pets. So, over time the uses of essential oils have been growing and gaining popularity. As of now, it seems like pet owners commonly use essential oils on their dogs for:

  • Treating Wounds
  • Treating allergies
  • Aromatherapy
  • Treating itchy skin
  • Arthritis and generalized inflammation
  • Ear infections
  • Flea and tick infestations
  • Antibiotic alternative

Essential Oils for Dogs: Fleas and Ticks

essential oils for dogs fleas and ticks

Some plants contain compounds that naturally repel fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other pesky insects. Similarly, the oil derivatives can deter fleas and ticks on dogs.

Fighting Fleas

As a natural flea and tick control, you can try using essential oils such as cedarwood, lemongrass, sage, citronella, and peppermint in order to control the flea population invading your pooch.

What About Ticks?

Fleas, tick, and mosquitos are repelled by citronella essential oil. Now, instead of adding the essential oil directly to your pet, you can try lighting citronella candles around your home. This may dilute the scent, and thus be less irritating to your pet.

Essential Oils for Dogs: Anxiety

Holistic aromatherapy has widely been used amongst humans to treat psychological problems such anxiety, and depression. Conversely, it’s plausible to suggest that essential oils can also be used to help those anxious dogs! Now, the topic on the calming effects of essential oils is still quite debatable. Nevertheless, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest it works!

Calming essential oils for dogs

study done in 2006 looked at using aromatherapy on dogs who were hyperactive and overly excited during periods of travel. The study found that dogs exposed to aromatherapy through lavender oil remained much calmer.

study done in 2009 looked to understand if the topical application of lavender oil would effect a dogs state of mind. Though not conclusive, the study did find that dogs who had lavender oil applied topically did have demonstrated changes in vagal activity. This means that researchers saw a decrease in the dog’s heart rate, which implies a calming effect.

Essential Oils for Dogs: Allergies

essential oils for dogs allergies

Whether or not essential oils can be used for dogs with allergies is a widely debatable topic. Baring in mind that some essential oils may cause skin burns or rashes (especially for those really sensitive pups), it’s important to remember that these oils may only treat the symptoms associated with mild allergies.

How It Can Help?

An essential oil cannot necessarily treat an allergy itself, but it can treat the symptoms of the allergy. If your dog has skin reactions or skin irritations, then you can use Roman Chamomile and Lavender essential oil. If your dog has respiratory symptoms, you can use Thyme, Peppermint, or Lemongrass essential oils. Finally, if your dog is in need of anti-inflammatory meds, then you can choose Basil or Rosemary oil.

Essential Oils for Dogs: Ear Health

When it comes to problems such as yeast infection, pet owners may choose to use a natural method of treatment as opposed to antibiotics. Luckily, essential oils are a natural method of treatment. In order to effectively use them, essential oils need to be properly diluted and dispensed into your dog’s ear.

Now, unfortunately, essential oils will not treat serious infections. Instead, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian about getting your pup on some medication.

Antibiotics Vs Essential Oils! Essential Oils for Dog Ear Infection


  • Works to treat bacterial ear infections.
  • Proven to work!
  • Medically safe to use in a dogs ear.

Essential Oils:

  • It can work if the infection is mild.
  • If you choose to use essential oils instead of antibiotics, be cautious! If the bacterial infection in your dog’s ear spreads, your dog will be in great pain!
  • Essential oils can sting or cause skin burns.
  • It is not guaranteed to work.

Essential Oils for Dogs: Arthritis

A holistic approach to conditions such as arthritis in dogs is to not only change your dog’s entire lifestyle but to also add essential oils.

Young Living Essential oils are the only essential oils certified for the use of therapeutic/ medicinal purposes. You can choose to use Copibia and lemongrass oil as they have anti-inflammatory effects. Clove and Rosemary oil are good too as they tend to have analgesic effects.

Essential Oils for Dogs: Itchy Skin

Essential oils can be used topically to treat dogs with itchy skin. Generally, vegetable oils such as cold-press, coconut oil can be massaged thoroughly into the body to treat skin problems such as dandruff, dermatitis, or dry skin.

Best Choices for Itchy Skin

Generally, there are many pet-friendly oils that you can use for itchy skin. But, we recommend that you create a lavender spritz to apply topically. Here’s what you do:

  1. First, pick a carrier oil for your solution. Carrier oil options include Jojoba oil, almond oil, vegetable oil, and coconut oil.
  2. Second, mix the carrier oil with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of Lavender oil
  3. Simply add your solution to a spray bottle and spritz away!

Best Essential Oils for Dogs!

Given that there are thousands of essential oils available for dogs, it’s hard to say which is the best and safest oil for your pooch! Personally, we decided to choose Lavender essential oil as the best essential oil for dogs because it is:

  • Mild with a light, calming scent.
  • Safe to use!
  • Effective to use.
  • Is not likely to cause skin irritation compared to other “hot oils”.

Bottom line: if you’re looking an essential oil to try, choose lavender oil!

Possible Adverse Reactions and Toxicity

The most crucial point to consider before using essential oils for dogs is that it might not work! Therefore, it is important to be cautious when using essential oils as the sole form of treatment for a disease. Instead, you might want use essential oil as a supplemental treatment, depending on how severe your dog’s ailment is.

Below we have listed a few points to ponder on when using essential oils for pets:

  • Our pets have very sensitive noses! Essential oils may smell lovely to us, but it can be quite troublesome to your pet.
  • Essential oils should not replace antibiotics! While certain oils do have antibacterial, antifungal properties. We do not recommend that you use essential oils as a sole method of treatment.
  • Cats can not metabolize certain essential oils. Proceed at risk!
  • Overdosing your pet on essential oils can lead to toxicity, landing your pup in urgent vet care.

Essential Oils For Dogs: A Hit or A Miss Among Pet Owners!

essential oils for dogs benefits

You can use essential oils to treat all sorts of ailments, in both humans and pets. Today, there are many on-going studies looking at the efficacy of essential oils for pets and people. We believe that you should not switch out antibiotics and other prescribed veterinary medication for essential oils, as there is no guarantee for oils to be effective. However, essential oils can make a great addition to your dog’s treatment.

What do you think about essential oils for dogs? Let us know in the comments below!


Why would I ever use essential oils for my dog?

Can I use any essential oil on my dog?

Any side effects I should watch out for?

About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for