Essential oils are a common self-care tool in many homes. Whether they are diffused throughout the home or applied directly to the skin, essential oils are all the rage in many holistic households. With so much buzz around the use of essential oils for human wellness, you may wonder if they are safe for the canine companions in our home as well.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about essential oil safety in dogs below!
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated plant compounds that contain the natural scent of their plants. Essential oils can be 100% concentrated or mixed with other ingredients, and they can be used in a variety of ways. Essential oils can be used for herbal remedies, in diffusers, in natural fragrances, and even in cleaning products. The popularity around essential oils is only growing, and people are finding new ways to incorporate these oils into their daily wellness routines.
Are Essential Oils Safe For Dogs?
When answering the question of whether or not essential oils are safe for dogs, the answer is not so simple. While some forms and concentration of essential oils can be safe for use in dogs, others can lead to severe toxicities and respiratory irritation. This is why it is so important to do your research on essential oil safety if you are interested in using them around your pup.
There is no simple answer around essential oil safety in dogs, so we are going to discuss individual essential oils and application guidelines below. Keep in mind that while some essential oil use is safe in dogs, it is not safe for use in cats. Cats are highly sensitive to both topical and diffused essential oils, so we do not suggest using any essential oils in your home if you have a cat.
Dr. Amy Nicole Lewis, a veterinarian with Worlwide Veterinary Services told A-Z Animals that essential oils are much more toxic to cats than dogs due to cats lacking an essential liver enzyme that helps to metabolize certain toxins. Cats are also highly sensitive to the phenolic compounds found in many essential oils and often experience respiratory irritation, so you should never use essential oils in a household with cats.
Which Essential Oils Are Toxic To Dogs?
Before we dive into safe essential oil use in dogs, it’s important to introduce you to the essential oils that you should never use around your canine companions. These essential oils are considered toxic by the ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline, both of which have guidelines established by skilled veterinary toxicologists.
Essential oils that are considered toxic to dogs include:
- Tea tree (melaleuca)
- Ylang ylang
- Sweet birch
The essential oils we listed above have been known to cause severe skin irritation, respiratory irritation and distress, liver damage, seizures, and more. We know you may find conflicting evidence online on a variety of natural pet health blogs, but it’s important to remember that the information above is supported by veterinary toxicologists and experts. You can always reach out to your veterinary team for personalized guidance if you have any questions about the essential oils we listed above.
6 Safety Tips For Essential Oil Use In Dogs
Dogs are much more sensitive to essential oils than we are, so you will need to follow a few safety guidelines when using essential oils around your canine companion. Here are six safety guidelines to follow when using essential oils in close proximity of your dog.
- Always consult with your veterinarian before using any essential oils around your dog, as your dog may have a specific sensitivity that your vet can offer guidance on. Research is also constantly evolving, so there may be new information on toxic compounds that we have not mentioned in this article.
- Keep your essential oils in an area your pet cannot access. Even if a certain oil is deemed safe for dogs, concentrated amounts of the oil can cause serious health complications. Essential oils are also highly toxic to dogs when consumed orally.
- Make sure you are always washing your hands after handling any essential oils, as concentrated amounts of essential oil can be dangerous if they make contact with your dog’s skin. This is especially true when handling the toxic essential oils we listed above.
- Ask your vet about safe dilution or application of the essential oil you are interested in using in your home or around your dog. For example, if you would like to diffuse it, ask your vet how much it should be diluted in the diffuser. If you would like to apply it to your dog’s skin, ask your vet how to dilute the oil and where to apply it on the body safely.
- Act promptly if your dog ever experiences any respiratory distress or neurological symptoms when you are diffusing oils in your home. Stop the diffuser immediately and take them outside to fresh air.
- Contact your vet immediately at the first sign of essential oil toxicity or irritation. We will break down the signs of essential oil toxicity in dogs below.
What Are The Signs Of Essential Oil Toxicity In Dogs?
Essential oil toxicities in dogs can vary based on their route of administration. For example, some pet parents choose to diffuse dog-safe essential oils throughout their home, while others are interested in applying diluted amounts of an essential oil to their dog’s skin. There are risks associated with each route of administration, so let’s break down signs of toxicity to be on the lookout for below.
Essential oil diffusion & aromatherapy: Sneezing, coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, watery eyes, rubbing the eyes, panting, drooling, trembling, vomiting, lethargy, confusion, and wobbly gait.
Topical essential oil application: Skin irritation, rashes on the skin, chemical burns, mouth irritation from licking the skin, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, wobbly gait, trembling, muscle twitching, seizures.
Always reach out to your vet immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog that has been exposed to essential oils. While some of the symptoms above are mild in nature and will resolve quickly, other complications can be life-threating when left unresolved. It is never worth the risk of waiting for vet care when dealing with essential oil toxicities.
Are Any Essential Oils Safe For Use In Dogs?
Now that you have a better understanding on essential oil safety in dogs, let’s introduce you to the essential oils that are considered safe for dogs when diluted and used correctly. Just remember to consult with your vet before using any of the following oils in your home or around your dog.
- Sweet orange
- Cedarwood atlas
- Clary sage
- Carrot seed
- Eucalyptus radiata
- Roman Chamomile
- German Chamomile
- Green mandarin
Remember that each of the essential oils listed above should be diluted before defusing throughout your home or administering to your dog’s skin. Any essential oil in a large or undiluted amount can result in severe irritation or toxicity to your canine friend. As always, remember to consult with your vet before using any essential oil around your dog.
Final Thoughts On Essential Oils For Dogs
While essential oils are a popular wellness tool for humans, they must be used with extreme caution in dogs. Some essential oils can cause severe irritation and toxicities when used around dogs, so it’s important to consult with your vet before introducing a new essential oil to your home. Be sure to review the information we discussed above to better understand essential oil safety in dogs!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © cynoclub/Shutterstock.com
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