15 Essential Oils that are Toxic to Dogs - Essential Oil Nerd (2023)

A few people asked me recently about which essential oils are safe or toxic around their dogs. Since a dog is a man’s best friend, you definitely don’t want to harm your best friend!

If you use essential oils, you’ll want to protect your best friend from any harm that could arise from using oils in potentially unsafe ways.

This post will help you become aware of which essential oils are toxic to dogs and suggest some oils that are safe for them.

15 Essential Oils that are Toxic to Dogs - Essential Oil Nerd (1)

Dogs are Sensitive

I bet you’ve seen some movies where a heroic dog tracks down a missing kid or finds drugs in a suitcase at the airport, thanks to the dog’s keen sense of smell.

While humans have six million olfactory receptors, dogs supposedly have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. And it’s possible they can smell somewhere between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than us mere mortals!

Essential oils need to be used with caution around dogs because dogs are much more sensitive to scent and to essential oils than humans.

The Research

According to Pet MD, there’s a lack of scientific research studying the effects of specific essential oils on cats and dogs.

Additionally, to date, Pet MD reports that there are no studies specifically testing pure essential oils on flea and tick infestations for dogs.

(Video) Essential Oils TOXIC to Dogs?

There’s a large number of products for dogs that contain some concentration of essential oil.

However, according to the American Kennel Club, most cases of toxicity in dogs occurred when natural flea and tick repellents containing certain essential oils were used (or misused).

A 2012 study described adverse reactions from natural flea products containing essential oils:

“Dogs and cats can experience significant adverse effects when exposed to plant-derived flea preventatives even when used according to label directions. The number of reports of exposure in cats was higher than dogs, but the frequency of reported adverse effects was similar between the 2 species. Agitation and hypersalivation were common in cats, whereas lethargy and vomiting were common in dogs.”

Genovese, McLean, & Khan

15 Essential Oils that are Toxic to Dogs

The following is a list of the most common essential oil toxicities:

  • Tea tree oil–In high concentrations tea tree essential oil (aka melaleuca) can cause adverse effects; however, shampoos containing low concentrations are okay.
  • Pennyroyal (aka squawmint)–This oil is sometimes used in products to treat fleas.
  • WIntergreen Oil–This oil contains methyl salicylates, also commonly known as aspirin.
  • Pine Oils–These oils are sometimes used in cleaning products.

Additional essential oils that are unsafe for dogs:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus–includes lemon and orange oils
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Anise
  • Yarrow
  • Juniper
  • Clove
  • Thyme (white, red)

Sources: Pet Poison Hotline; American Kennel Club; Avlmer Veterinary Clinic

*Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of essential oils that are toxic to dogs. If you’re unsure whether an oil is safe to use around your dog, consult your veterinarian.

(Video) Essential Oils Safe For Dogs? (5 Guidelines - Essential Oil Safety)

Symptoms of Harm or Toxicity

Whether you’re using essential oil products on yourself or for your dog, keep in mind that any oil can be harmful if it’s not properly diluted or used incorrectly.

In its pure, undiluted and concentrated form, essential oils can cause harmful reactions for animals, just like it can cause reactions in humans.

When using products containing essential oil, a few factors determine its effect on your dog. These include the type of oil, concentration level of the oil, and additional ingredients mixed with the oils which can cause varying reactions.

Topical or oral exposure can cause any of the following reactions:

  • Skin irritation–e.g. itchiness, burning, sloughing
  • Respiratory irritation–e.g. panting, coughing, wheezing. If your dog has underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma or allergies, certain essential oils can also exacerbate those conditions.
  • GI upset–e.g. vomiting, diarrhea
  • Other potentially severe, less common symptoms also include gait unsteadiness, depression, lethargy, weakness, ulcers, hypothermia, rear leg paralysis, seizures,

In rare cases, if the oil is absorbed into the bloodstream, liver and kidney damage can occur.

Essential Oils Safe for Dogs

For those who plan to use essential oils safely around their dogs or are looking for products containing safe oils, the following is a list of oils that are generally considered safe to use around dogs.

  1. Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)–Should avoid with pregnant dogs
  2. Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica or Juniperus virginiana)
  3. Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita)–aka blue chamomile
  4. Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile)
  5. Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)–Should avoid with pregnant dogs
  6. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
  7. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  8. Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
  9. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  10. Marjoram, Sweet (Origanum marjorana)
  11. Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  12. Ravensare aromatica (Cinnamonum camphora)
  13. Rose (Rosa damascena)
  14. Thyme linalool (Thyme vulgaris)
  15. Valerian (Valerian officinalis)

Sources: Whole Dog Journal; Natural Dog Health Remedies

Eucalyptus and Peppermint

There’s a lot of conflicting information about eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils.

(Video) Best Essential Oil For Dogs

If you scour the internet, you’ll often find both oils to be on the safe or dangerous lists, depending on the source of information.

According to Dr. Callum Turner, DVM, eucalyptus can be considered toxic if ingested and used topically (on the skin), whether it’s directly applied or diluted.

If used in a diffuser, extreme caution should be used (see diffuser tips below).

Another oil that appears controversial for use around dogs is peppermint essential oil.

Certified aromatherapists are more likely to place it on their “safe” list, while animal hospitals seem more likely to place it on the “unsafe” list.

I kept peppermint essential oil on the “unsafe” list in this post because a number of veterinarians place it in that category.

However, I do want to link to this article that examines the issue and may provide the reasoning behind the inclusion of peppermint in the “safe” category on other lists around the internet.

The article advises many safety precautions and promotes careful, cautious use to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of peppermint essential oil.

(Video) Essential Oils 101: An Introduction to Essential Oils and Chemistry

Can you diffuse essential oils around dogs?

We all want to diffuse our favorite oils, but is it safe for your dog?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)specifically addressed this question, stating:

“Using an oil diffuser for a short time period in a secured area— one that your dog or cat cannot access—is not likely to be an issue.”

Aspca animal poison control center

The APCC also advises to make sure the area is secure so that your dog can’t knock over the diffuser, lick it, or drink it.

Additionally, the room should be well ventilated and have an exit to allow your dog to go into a different area or room in your home..

However, if your dog has breathing problems due to underlying health conditions, allergies or asthma, you may want to avoid using diffusers.

Also, be mindful that dogs that walk through oils that are being diffused can have oil land on their fur and may lick their coat, causing unsafe oral ingestion.

15 Essential Oils that are Toxic to Dogs - Essential Oil Nerd (2)

Tips to keep your dog safe around essential oils

  1. Always dilute oils! Avoid high concentrations of the oil.
  2. Examine the labels of your dog products containing any essential oils to ensure they are formulated specifically for dogs. Some products may contain an oil on the unsafe list but have proper dilution with very low concentration which may then make it safe for use.
  3. Consider avoiding diffuser use if your dog has an underlying medical condition, especially if it’s respiratory in nature.
  4. Secure all diffusers. Make sure that your dog can’t knock any over or accidentally lick it or ingest oils from it.
  5. If diffusing, allow your dog to leave the area–don’t shut the dog in an enclosed space with the diffuser without a way out. Make sure the area is well-ventilated.
  6. Observe your dog’s behaviors–does he/she show displeasure or act weird after an initial exposure? Leave the room immediately? Show any symptoms, even mild, of possible harm or toxicity?

References: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center , American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

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Final Thoughts

In brief, we all want to keep our little furry best friends safe, so it’s important to take precautions when using essential oils. Consult your vet if you’re unsure whether an oil is potentially dangerous to your dog.

You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)-426-4435 or the Pet Poisen Helpline at (855) 764-7661 immediately if your dog has ingested essential oils, or if you have concerns about exposure to essential oils. Both lines are available 24/7.

FAQs

What are the most toxic essential oils for dogs? ›

Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to dogs. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.

What essential oils are bad for dogs when diffused? ›

Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin OR used in diffusers.

Can breathing essential oils be harmful to dogs? ›

These can be very dangerous to pets if ingested, inhaled, or applied topically – especially in highly-concentrated forms. Therefore, pet parents must be cautious when using essential oils around pets.

What are the symptoms of essential oil poisoning in dogs? ›

According to the Pet Poison Helpline

Behavior changes (depression, fatigue, weakness) Difficulty breathing (labored breathing, fast breathing, coughing, wheezing) Drooling and/or vomiting. Tremors.

What oils should you avoid around dogs? ›

Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are straight up toxic to pets.
...
For our canine friends, toxic essential oils include:
  • Pennyroyal oil.
  • Pine oil.
  • Tea tree oil.
  • Wintergreen oil.
  • Cinnamon oil.
  • Citrus oil.
  • Peppermint oil.
  • Sweet Birch oil.
2 Mar 2020

What diffuser smells are safe for dogs? ›

Pet Safe Essential Oils for Diffuser: Dogs
  • Myrrh.
  • Frankincense.
  • Chamomile.
  • Lavender oil.
  • Ginger.
  • Rosemary.
24 Jun 2021

Why is eucalyptus bad for dogs? ›

When ingested in sufficient amounts this oil, eucalyptol, is an irritant to the gastrointestinal system, causing discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is also a neurotoxin and can cause neurological symptoms as well, such as depression, confusion, and seizures.

What happens if dogs smell peppermint oil? ›

Key takeaway. Peppermint oil is toxic to dogs and can cause mild to severe symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and even lethargy. Peppermint oil poisoning can be fatal, especially if it's not treated as soon as possible.

Can the smell of peppermint hurt dogs? ›

Peppermint oil presents a wide range of risks for dogs and can be toxic to our furry friends. Many other essential oils also pose a severe risk to most furry friends. If you use a diffuser in your home or use essential oils on your skin, it's important to be aware of the risks and which oils are safe.

Can dogs be around essential oils? ›

In their concentrated form (100%), essential oils can absolutely be a danger for pets. Dogs and cats who have either walked through oils, gotten some on their coat or had oils placed directly on them can develop health concerns. Symptoms include: Unsteadiness on the feet.

What scent is toxic to dogs? ›

Essential Oils Harmful to Dogs

Oils that are harmful to dogs include, but are not limited to: Cinnamon. Citrus (d-limonene) Pennyroyal.

How do you flush poison out of a dog's system? ›

Once in the hospital, your veterinarian may give your dog intravenous fluid, flush your dog's stomach, give your dog activated charcoal to absorb the toxin, or perform surgery. Supportive medications may help your dog's kidneys and liver process the poison and heal.

How do you detox a dog from poisoning? ›

One of the most common treatment options for poisoning in dogs is inducing vomiting. Other treatment may include medication to reduce pain and symptoms, overnight monitoring, or IV's for flushing out the toxins in the system.

What scents keep dogs away? ›

Top Smell That Our Dogs Hate
  • Chili Peppers.
  • Onions.
  • Ground Spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, mustard, and cayenne pepper)
  • Garlic.
  • Citrus Fruits (such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits)
  • Vinegar.
  • Fresh Herbs (such as basil, mint, rosemary, and thyme)
  • Alcohol.
7 Jun 2022

What oil calms dogs down? ›

Well known for its incredible calming properties for humans, lavender oil is one of the best essential oils to calm dogs. It is a natural dog anxiety treatments to use with a nervous, depressed or hyperactive pup - and is also an excellent sleep aid if your dog has insomnia.

What human oils are safe for dogs? ›

Olive oil is wonderful for dogs' overall health because it can help keep their coats moisturized and shiny, improve their immune systems, and help prevent and lessen the effects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Great for pups whose systems aren't able to digest omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids well.

Is Orange essential oil safe for dogs? ›

Is Orange Essential Oil Safe for Dogs? Orange essential oil has been used extensively in all species of animals and has GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status.

Is cinnamon bad for dogs? ›

Is Cinnamon Toxic to Dogs? The good news is that cinnamon is not toxic to dogs, though cinnamon essential oil can be toxic for pups. Your dog will not suffer fatal toxic effects from consuming too much cinnamon, but that does not necessarily mean you should be sprinkling it on kibble.

Is apple cider vinegar safe for dogs? ›

Apple cider vinegar is made from just apples and water, making it completely safe for dogs. It is slightly acidic, with a pH of 3.1 to 5, which gives it properties that can soothe a dog's overly alkalized digestive tract. Add a teaspoon of ACV to your dog's water bowl and see if he'll drink it!

Can I have eucalyptus in my house with a dog? ›

Eucalyptus is toxic to dogs. According to Dr. Turner, "Ingestion of eucalyptus leaves may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness; however, in large quantities, it may also cause seizures" in dogs. The ASPCA also notes dogs who ingest eucalyptus can suffer from depression.

Is Lemongrass safe for dogs? ›

Lemongrass is toxic to dogs due to the cyanogenic glycosides and oils in the plant. Lemongrass poisoning, however, is rare in canines since dogs must ingest large quantities of the plant to trigger severe symptoms.

Is lavender oil safe for dogs to lick? ›

Diluted lavender oil is generally considered safe for topical use on dogs. Lavender essential oil is extremely potent. Just like for humans, pure lavender essential oils should not be applied to the skin or ingested.

Is lemongrass oil safe for dogs? ›

Diffusing citronella or lemongrass oil outdoors may act as an insect repellent to keep away mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. This is perfectly pet safe.

What smells do dogs like? ›

Our study shows that dogs were more likely to interact with the scents of blueberry, blackberry, mint, rose, lavender, and linalol.

What essential oil gets rid of dog urine smell? ›

You can use lavender essential oil to help get rid of a number of unpleasant pet odours including pets using the carpet as a toilet, dogs in need of deodorant, pongy pet beds and as a general room freshener.

Do dogs like the smell of vinegar? ›

Just like citrus, dogs cannot stand the smell of vinegar. It seems that a dog's heightened sense of smell is not keen on acidic smells, vinegar being another very acidic substance. It is worth noting that dogs are more repelled by the smell of vinegar than they are by lemons and oranges.

Can smells trigger dogs? ›

They can trigger all kinds of behavior, sexual and not. Your dog, with their super-sensing nose, can certainly smell the pheromones your body is giving off, and often, they're game to investigate. This means they can stick their noses in places they certainly don't belong.

How long does dog poisoning take to kick in? ›

Some toxins cause reactions right away, while others cause symptoms several hours or days later. For instance, the first symptoms of antifreeze poisoning can appear in as little as 30 minutes, whereas the symptoms of chocolate poisoning take between 6 and 12 hours to show up.

Can milk help a poisoned dog? ›

No. Milk is unlikely to be helpful in the vast majority of poisoning situations and can sometimes make things worse. Most pets are lactose intolerant and giving milk can cause or worsen stomach upset symptoms.

How long does it take for toxins to get out of a dog? ›

In order for your dog to get rid of the toxins that were stored in the kibble, your dog may or may not go through this detox period. Your dog might experience a short detoxification period (typically 0- 14 days) where your dog may exhibit symptoms such as a change of fur odor, vomiting or diarrhea.

Can a dog survive toxic poisoning? ›

25% of poisoned pets recover within two hours. Of the pets that take longer to recover, many can be treated at home with the advice of your veterinarian or with advice from the ASPCA Poison Control Center (telephone 1-888-426-4435). Even with treatment, one in 100 poisoned pets dies.

What home remedy can I give my dog for poisoning? ›

Poison Control

Consider using hydrogen peroxide (one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight), to induce vomiting. Dr. Putter advises using hydrogen peroxide (which is a gastric irritant) under consultation with animal poison control.

Can dogs survive toxins? ›

Can cats and dogs survive being poisoned? Recovering from being poisoned is dependent on what the toxic substance was, the dose, and how long before treatment was started. The sooner treatment for any type of poisoning is sought, the greater the chance both cats and dogs will survive.

How long before dog shows signs of poison? ›

Some toxins cause reactions right away, while others cause symptoms several hours or days later. For instance, the first symptoms of antifreeze poisoning can appear in as little as 30 minutes, whereas the symptoms of chocolate poisoning take between 6 and 12 hours to show up.

Can a dog recover from toxic poisoning? ›

25% of poisoned pets recover within two hours. Of the pets that take longer to recover, many can be treated at home with the advice of your veterinarian or with advice from the ASPCA Poison Control Center (telephone 1-888-426-4435). Even with treatment, one in 100 poisoned pets dies.

Can dogs get sick from essential oil diffusers? ›

What should you look for if you believe your pet has been over-exposed to essential oils? Symptoms include lethargy, unsteadiness, or even a low body temperature in the most severe cases. If essential oils are ingested, you might also see drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.

What are home remedies for dog poisoning? ›

Poison Control

Consider using hydrogen peroxide (one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight), to induce vomiting. Dr. Putter advises using hydrogen peroxide (which is a gastric irritant) under consultation with animal poison control.

How will a dog act if it has been poisoned? ›

Symptoms caused by swallowed poisons can include: vomiting, diarrhoea, agitation and heart issues. Inhaled toxins may cause breathing difficulties or loss of consciousness in dogs. If your dog's skin comes in contact with a poisonous substance typical symptoms include irritation and pain.

Will 1 grape hurt a dog? ›

Can a Single Grape Kill a Dog? Unfortunately, even consuming one grape or raisin can be fatal. Ingesting the fruit could potentially lead to acute (sudden) kidney failure in dogs.

Why do dogs eat grass? ›

Dogs need roughage in their diets and grass is a good source of fiber. A lack of roughage affects the dog's ability to digest food and pass stool, so grass may actually help their bodily functions run more smoothly.

Can dogs inhale lavender essential oil? ›

Again, the answer is yes - and exposing your dog to the oil through direct inhalation brings many health benefits. It's pretty easy to introduce lavender into your dog's environment so they can safely inhale it without the scent being too strong or invasive for their little bodies or sensitive noses.

Is lemongrass oil safe for dogs to breathe? ›

Diffusing citronella or lemongrass oil outdoors may act as an insect repellent to keep away mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. This is perfectly pet safe.

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