Which essential oils are harmful to dogs?

Which Essential Oils Are Harmful to Dogs?

Dogs are beloved members of our families, and we always strive to keep them safe and healthy. While essential oils have gained popularity for their therapeutic properties, it is crucial to understand that not all oils are safe for our canine companions. In fact, some essential oils can be highly toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on which essential oils are harmful to dogs and how to keep our furry friends safe.

Understanding the Risks of Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that contain volatile compounds. These compounds can be harmful to dogs due to their unique physiology. Dogs have a higher sensitivity to certain chemicals found in essential oils, making them more susceptible to toxicity. When ingested or absorbed through the skin, these oils can cause a range of adverse effects, including gastrointestinal upset, respiratory distress, neurological issues, and even liver damage. It is essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with essential oil use around dogs.

Common Essential Oils That Pose a Danger

Several essential oils, commonly used in aromatherapy, can be harmful to dogs. It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and it is always best to consult with a veterinarian before using any new essential oil around your dog. Some of the most dangerous essential oils for dogs include tea tree oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, citrus oils (such as lemon, lime, and orange), pennyroyal oil, eucalyptus oil, and pine oil. These oils contain compounds that can be toxic to dogs and should be avoided entirely.

Identifying Signs of Essential Oil Toxicity

Recognizing the signs of essential oil toxicity in dogs is crucial for prompt intervention. The symptoms may vary depending on the oil and the dog’s individual sensitivity. However, common signs of essential oil toxicity in dogs include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, weakness, depression, and skin irritation. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to a toxic essential oil, seek immediate veterinary assistance.

How Essential Oils Affect Dogs’ Health

Essential oils can affect dogs’ health in various ways, depending on the specific oil and the route of exposure. When ingested, essential oils can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to inflammation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Inhalation of certain oils can cause respiratory distress, coughing, and wheezing. Skin contact with essential oils may result in irritation, redness, itching, and even chemical burns. In severe cases, ingestion or prolonged exposure to toxic essential oils can lead to organ damage and, in rare instances, be fatal.

Precautions to Take When Using Essential Oils

To ensure the safety of your dog, it is vital to take certain precautions when using essential oils. First and foremost, never apply undiluted essential oils directly to your dog’s skin or fur. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, before applying them topically. Additionally, avoid using essential oils near your dog’s face, eyes, nose, or genital areas. If using a diffuser, ensure the room is well-ventilated, and keep your dog’s access limited to a well-ventilated area. Lastly, store essential oils securely, out of your dog’s reach, to prevent accidental ingestion.

Safe Alternatives to Essential Oils for Dogs

Instead of using potentially harmful essential oils, there are safe alternatives available to enhance your dog’s well-being. For a calming effect, consider using lavender hydrosol or chamomile tea as a spray or in a diffuser. Neem oil, diluted with a carrier oil, can help repel fleas and ticks. Additionally, herbal remedies specifically formulated for dogs, such as calendula or aloe vera, can be used for topical applications. Always consult with a veterinarian or a certified aromatherapist experienced in animal care before using any alternative products.

Consulting a Vet About Essential Oil Use

Before introducing any essential oils into your dog’s environment, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian. They can provide guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs and health condition. Veterinarians can help determine if your dog is particularly sensitive to certain oils or if there are any underlying health concerns that may increase the risk of adverse reactions. Their expertise ensures the well-being of your canine friend and helps you make informed decisions regarding essential oil use.

Essential Oil Diffusers and Your Canine Friend

Essential oil diffusers have become popular household items, but it is important to consider their potential effects on your dog. Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell, and certain essential oils can be overwhelming or even harmful to them. If you choose to use a diffuser, ensure it is in a well-ventilated area and monitor your dog’s behavior closely. If you notice any signs of discomfort, such as sneezing, coughing, or restlessness, it may be best to discontinue diffuser use altogether.

Proper Storage and Handling of Essential Oils

Proper storage and handling of essential oils are essential for your dog’s safety. Always keep essential oils securely stored in a cool, dark place, away from your dog’s reach. Ensure that caps are tightly closed to prevent accidental spills or ingestion. In case of accidental exposure or ingestion, contact your veterinarian immediately for further guidance. Prompt action can make a significant difference in minimizing the potential harm caused by essential oils.

Dos and Don’ts: Using Essential Oils Safely

To summarize, here are some dos and don’ts to ensure the safe use of essential oils around dogs:


  • Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying topically.
  • Consult with a veterinarian before introducing any essential oils to your dog’s environment.
  • Use safe alternatives, such as hydrosols or herbal remedies formulated for dogs.
  • Monitor your dog’s behavior when using essential oil diffusers and discontinue use if any signs of discomfort arise.
  • Store essential oils securely, out of your dog’s reach.


  • Apply undiluted essential oils directly to your dog’s skin or fur.
  • Use essential oils near your dog’s face, eyes, nose, or genital areas.
  • Assume that essential oils safe for humans are also safe for dogs.
  • Neglect to seek veterinary assistance if your dog shows signs of essential oil toxicity.
  • Ignore proper storage and handling practices for essential oils.

Promoting a Pet-Friendly Environment at Home

Creating a pet-friendly environment at home involves being mindful of the potential dangers of essential oils and taking appropriate precautions. By understanding which essential oils are harmful to dogs, recognizing the signs of toxicity, and consulting with a veterinarian, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our beloved canine companions. Prioritizing their health over the use of essential oils is a small sacrifice to make to keep our furry friends happy and healthy for years to come.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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