The 411 on Essential Oils and your Dog

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Essential Oils For Your Dog

Essential Oils For Dogs

Essential oils aren't merely a trend. They've been used since biblical times, and are either ingested* or applied topically. Essential oils also offer calming and invigorating smells via aromatherapy. While they provide health benefits to humans, did you know that the majority of oils can also be used for your canine friends, too? Here's the 411 on essential oils and your dog.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds that are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They are incredibly potent and fragrant giving plants their distinctive smell, such as a rose. They protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. For a long time, essential oils have aided in natural healing for humans and animals.

Volatile aromatic compounds are small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. Volatile- meaning they change state quickly. The physical and chemical properties of the volatile aromatic compounds that compose essential oils allow them to quickly move through the air and directly interact with the olfactory sensors in the nose, which is why essential oil is commonly used for aromatherapy for dogs.

Over 3,000 varieties of volatile aromatic compounds have been identified to date. The nature of an essential oil varies from plant to plant, within botanical families, and from species to species.

Even with pure essential oils the composition of the oil can vary depending on the time of day, season, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, year grown, and the weather, making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product.

Learn Why You Need to Give Your Dog Virgin Coconut Oil

Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness for dogs.  They can be used as single essential oils or in complex essential oil blends depending on what your dog needs.

Are Essential Oils Safe For Dogs?

Absolutely if done right! However, dogs are more sensitive to essential oil than humans so you can’t just jump right in. It’s a gradual process. When you are first wanting to introduce your dog to essential oil it’s important to dilute the oil to test your dog’s tolerance to the oil. Here is some more information on safe dilution practices.  

The information listed below are general guidelines and you should always consult your veterinarian before introducing essential oils to your dog. Never force essential oils into your dog's life. There are many controversies about whether or not it is safe for your dog to receive essential oils topically. The  ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center  hotline can be reached at 888-426-4435.

A few tips to keep in mind from

  • dogs are more sensitive to essential oils than humans are. Essential oils should always be used diluted, even when just inhaling. This is important to remember, as we humans don’t dilute when inhaling.
  • most issues that dogs have can be addressed with the inhalation of diluted essential oils.
  • only use essential oils with your dogs when needed to address a concern – not to “prevent” a health issue. An example is to have them inhale a digestive essential oil after they eat, when they don’t have any digestive issues. This is not recommended.
  • do not add essential oils to your dog’s food or drinking water
  • avoid using essential oils with puppies under 10 weeks of age – use hydrosols instead.

“When offering essential oils to your dog, you want to first pre-select 3-5 essential oils from the safe list which you believe to be the most effective for the issue that needs addressing. There are often several essential oils which can be beneficial and allowing your dog to choose which one specifically will ensure you do not go wrong. Make sure the oils are diluted!

As explained in this free essential oil course, the essential oils are offered as closed bottles, one at a time. Allow your dog to sniff the closed bottle (remember, dogs have an incredible sense of smell and even when the bottle is closed, this is enough for them) and once you know which one(s) your dog prefers, you can then dilute accordingly. Nayana Morag shows in her video course offering her hand to her dog, with the diluted mixture on her hand. The dog can then inhale or lick.”

How Do You Use Essential Oils for dogs?

Use 3-5 drops and dilute it 80-90% in a carrier oil.

  • arthritis
  • bruises
  • scars
  • strains
  • skin issues such as eczema, bacterial or fungal infections
  • flea control

Aromatherapy works really well for dogs, just like humans. If your pup is stressed, diffuse some lavender in the air. There are so many benefits to aromatherapy and it can be used for a multitude of reasons. You can either get a diffuser or just have your dog smell the essential oil straight from the bottle or place on your hands and have your dog smell your hands.  

On occasion, you can give the essential oil to your dog internally. But consult a vet before you do this to be sure it’s the best solution for whatever your dog is needing the essential oil for. We do not endorse this. There is a lot of controversy on giving dogs essential oils topically or ingested and when in doubt, err on the side of not giving it to your dog.

 If you are looking for something amazing that can be used internally that helps all sorts of skin and coat problems, we recommend Natural Doggie virgin coconut oil. This special coconut oil is of the highest quality and uses cold extraction. This special superfood for dogs can help any number of ailments for allergies to digestive issues.

Be sure that you are getting therapeutic grade essential oil as opposed to aromatherapy or perfume grade.

What Types of Essential Oils Are Best?

Safe Essential Oils for Dogs

    • Lavender:Diffusing lavender has a calming effect on the central nervous system, and dogs experiencing separation anxiety may benefit from it. Universal oil, can use pure or diluted. Useful in conditioning patients to a safe space. May help allergies, burns, ulcers, insomnia, car ride anxiety and car sickness, to name a few.
    • Marjoram: Marjoram is anti-fungal, anti-septic, and anti-bacterial. It may alleviate diabetes or depression symptoms, nerve pain, and assist with liver problems.
    • Peppermint:Use of  peppermint as an anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, and analgesic.
  • Sweet Orange:Sweet Orange is deodorizing and deters bugs.
  • Vetiver: The Whole Dog Journal suggests that Vetiver may reduce stress by calming dogs afraid of loud noises.
  • Cardamom: Diuretic, anti-bacterial, normalizes appetite, colic, coughs, heartburn and nausea.
  • Fennel:assists the adrenal cortex, helps break up toxins and fluid in tissue. Balances pituitary, thyroid and pineal glands.
  • Helichrysum:Anti-bacterial, reduces bleeding in accidents, skin regenerator, helps repair nerves. Also useful in cardiac disease.
  • Frankincense:Has helped some cases of cancer. Works on the immune system. Has reduced tumors and external ulcers. Increases blood supply to the brain (although it can worsen hypertension so use caution).
  • Spearmint: Helps to reduce weight. Good for colic, diarrhea, nausea. Helps balance metabolism, stimulates gallbladder. When diluted and used short term, this oil is helpful for many gastrointestinal issues in cats.

Additional List of safe essential oil for dogs:

  • Angelica Root
  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Cajeput
  • Caraway
  • Cardamom
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon Leaf
  • Cistus
  • Citronella
  • Coriander
  • Cypress
  • Elemi
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fennel (Sweet)
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Citrus
  • Lemongrass
  • Mandarin
  • Marjoram (Sweet)
  • Melissa
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Niaouli
  • Nutmeg
  • Opopanax
  • Orange (Sweet, Blood)
  • Palmarosa
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Petitgrain
  • Plai
  • Rosalina
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Spearmint
  • Spikenard
  • Tangerine
  • Valerian
  • Vanilla
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang

What Types of Essential Oils Are Unsafe For Dogs?

Unsafe Oils for Dogs

According to The Bark, tea tree oil may be a bit too strong for dogs. There are some essential oils that should never be used for animals: Anise, Clove Leaf/Bud, Garlic, Horseradish, Juniper, Thyme, Wintergreen, or Yarrow, to name a few. If you're in doubt, call your veterinarian.

Here is a list of essential oils that could be unsafe for your dog.

  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Birch (Betula)
  • Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
  • Boldo (Peumus boldus)
  • Calamus (Acorus calamus)
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Cassia (Cassia fistula)
  • Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
  • Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
  • Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
  • Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  • Mustard (Brassica juncea)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Red or White Thyme
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
  • Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
  • Savory (Satureja)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
  • Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


Not all oils are equal. Purchase pure, therapeutic brands from reputable companies that don't possess added chemicals. Make sure these brands include the verbiage "for internal use" on their labels if your dog will be ingesting them. (*Ingestion of oils is still a controversial topic. Consult your veterinarian before using any essential oils, whether inhaled or not.) And, check the label for instructions on how to dilute oils. For example, a few drops of essential oil placed in water or a carrier oil often times is all you'll need.

Ask your veterinarian about using essential oils if your furry friend is under 10 weeks old or has a pre-existing medical condition. If you also own a bird, fish, or cat, be aware that these animals may have adverse reactions to oils (either immediately or over time).

Stop the use of essential oils if you notice your dog has an adverse reaction. For further information on using oils correctly and safely, read Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell.

top 10 safest essential oils for your dog


Essential oils have so many benefits for dogs and work wonders! It’s important to do your research, and not go essential oil crazy. You can very easily overdose your dog on essential oils and that would not be good for Fido! It’s recommended to only use essential oils for dogs on a consistent basis for two weeks and then it’s important to give your pup a nice break from them.

Ensure you always consult a vet when in doubt, and most importantly listen to your dog, watch out for signs that he/she doesn’t like the oil and monitor their behavior.

Interested in introducing CBD's to your dog? 

Check out our complete CBD guide

20 Responses

Lillian Terrio
Lillian Terrio

August 20, 2018

I can’t find wild orange oil on the safe list or unsafe list for dogs!!


August 01, 2018

I make frozen doggy snacks using various natural ingredients such as oregano, spinach, celery, carrots, fruits, yogurt. I use coconut oil in all of the snacks. I use homemade chicken stock for the base of the vegetable ones. I use the fresh fruits and vegetables. My dog loves these and they seem to help with curing his itching internally. And, very inexpensive snacks compared to store bought. No preservatives or nasty additives. I have put a drop or two of essential oils (mainly cinnamon and lavender) in the entire mixture. Low doses, but makes me feel good for giving to him. I have also added some burdock root mixture in some of them. I put the mixture in my silicon molds and freeze. For my Laborador grand dog, I have put this mixture in a empty water bottle and he loves licking on it and chewing on it to keep him cool on hot summer days.

Ronald E Mullins
Ronald E Mullins

July 16, 2018

I purchased some flee and tick treatment ,all natural, from Walmart, and it had clove oil in it. Now I read where clove should not be administered to dogs. My small dog developed skin sores, loss of hair, and was very agitated by this product. It was in a tube that was to be squirted from the top of the neck ,down the middle of the back ,to the tail. Why would they put clove oil in it when I’m learning now that clove should never be put on dogs.

Christine Manzella
Christine Manzella

June 25, 2018

is there a printable version of these good/bad essential oils list?


June 25, 2018

What essential oils are safe for dogs but also safe to spray on plants and trees that I don’t want my dog to eat? My dogs are eating the dead remnants of the branches where we trimmed the palm trees. I need to find a safe oil but that they do not like, but also won’t kill the trees.

Alli with SitStay
Alli with SitStay

June 21, 2018

Hi Diane,

Yes Eucalyptus oil is helpful when trying to repel bugs. It can also be used to treat bites. It is recommend that you mix it with your shampoo and apply it during a bath. Hope this helps!

Thank you!

Diane Amono Ciancaglini
Diane Amono Ciancaglini

June 20, 2018

Is Eucalyptus soil good to put on dogs to prevent no see ums and fleas from biting

Mariana Dimitrov
Mariana Dimitrov

May 07, 2018

I make an ointment for my dogs with few drops of oregano oil. I also use peppermint, lemon and lavender in my catalytic lamps around my dogs. It’s good for allergies.

Gloria Tate
Gloria Tate

April 18, 2018

Is ceadwrwood ok to use a round my dog..

Susan Dewert
Susan Dewert

April 07, 2018

My dog is aging and I am considering going to an alternative method to use for preventing fleas and ticks. She had a horrible reaction to Advantix 11 over a year ago so after I bathed her in Dawn detergent taking the program off her, I changed to Scalibor collar and have had no problems and quite inexpensive. Now that is not available in my area and the vets are all pushing Selestro collars (made by Bayer, same company as Advatix 11)
So, now looking into oils that prevent fleas and ticks. She already takes coconut oil internally which has great qualities for me and for my dog. (says even will help against fleas) I don’t know if that’s enough by itself plus want to prevent ticks as well. She’s a small dog, about 16 pounds. Yorkie Pom mix. She’s showing more signs of aging and I want to do the right things for her. Vets charge a lot these days and want you to put your pets through more things than I feel necessary and have read can cause a lot of problems with doing too many things. At a local pet store I looked at Sentry’s Natural Defense. It uses natural oils for flea and tick prevention and is applied on the neck or back once a month. It contains oil:peppermint,cinnamon,lemongrass,clove and tyme but not large doses of these, 3-5% then contains 78% vanillin,isopropyl myristate whatever all that is. I wanted to get away from the usual pesticides that are used to prevent fleas and ticks but not sure how “natural” this product really is. Does anyone know? Particularly on an older dog. She is very healthy as far as we know and all systems function fine now. Due to outrageous cost of vets and all they wanna push…I have been taking her to wellness clinic of SPCA.


March 30, 2018

Ann, my vet said that tea tree oil will cause liver failure in dogs and cats. Does help skin issues and infection but not safe on pets, especial if they can lick at it.


March 22, 2018

Glad to read this & finally see that essential oils & the diffuser is safe with the exception of some essential oils. I have seen negativity comments regarding essential oils bad for Fido. I use them with a couple of drops/diluted & this has not harmed any of my dogs or cats. Their is a list of what essential oils are bad so really use common sense on using your diffuser and essential oils properly.


March 19, 2018

I want to make a candle with beeswax, cocnut oil and lavender essential oil for my home is this combination ok for both my pets…cat and small dog

Monica Lichty
Monica Lichty

February 10, 2018

I can’t find anything on Clary sage salvia,, is it OK for dogs. Thank you I would of never guessed that some are toxic for dogs.

Pat Cobb
Pat Cobb

February 08, 2018

I have been using “Breathe” by doTRERRA. Our 8Pound Pomeranian sleeps with us. It has stopped my and I from snoring and our Pom from running Eyes. Should we keep using it or do know if something better. The oil is deluded by a defused. Thank You


January 30, 2018

Can anyone tell me if the following are good or bad, I do not seem them on either list….
Clary Sage
Peru Balsam
Bay leaf
Thank you!!!!!!


January 19, 2018

My vet lists oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang as poisonous to dogs, harmful both through ingestion and skin contact. I notice a few of these are on your safe list. Why include them on the safe list? Shouldn’t the consult the vet part be at the beginning so that people actually read it if seeking alternative therapies for their animals? I would bet a lot of people don’t make it to the bottom of the article.

SitStay Hannah
SitStay Hannah

January 10, 2018

Hello Ann and Elizabeth,
Essential oil use in aromatherapy for dogs is still an evolving category and new information is being added. We do our best to stay up-to-date on the information and we love when people engage with us so that we can further our research that we share with people. We use multiple resources for our information, and we are strong advocates of consulting your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s health, especially with supplements and aromatherapy. It is still a controversy topic on whether or not it is safe to allow dogs to have essential oils topically so we recommend diluting the oils 80-90% and using them in the air instead of giving them directly to your dog.


January 09, 2018

Oregano is a natural method of curing Giardia in dogs
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) helps with skin irritation
Eucalyptus has been confirmed to give SMALL dogs seizures

where do you get your information confirmed?


January 05, 2018

I read that oregano oil was a good antifungal for dogs. What harm does it cause? Thanks

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