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Essential Oils For Dogs: Benefits, Safety & How To Use

You may have heard about the healing properties of essential oils. Could they have similar effects for our dogs? And which ones are safest for our canine family members?

Essential oils are extracted from plants and the quality of the oil is impacted by several conditions—the sunlight, altitude, and even how much water a plant receives.

How can essential oils and aromatherapy help dogs?

Essential oils are known to help with everything from skin irritations to fighting fleas. Lavender is popular for dogs because of its calming effects, and peppermint is thought to stimulate circulation and deter insects.

Essential oils are often used by veterinarians in ways that you probably didn’t even notice when you were there during your last appointment.

Other uses include everything from increasing appetite in dogs to combating fatigue and addressing an animal’s physical and emotional issues.

For example, a dog can suffer from anxiety, so you can use lavender to help calm his nerves. You add a few drops of lavender to the essential oil diffuser you have in your kitchen to help calm all the dogs when you leave the house.

Basic safety information:

  • dogs are more sensitive to essential oils than humans are. Essential oils should always be used diluted, even when just inhalingThis 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 oilsThere are a few issues which can be addressed with topical use, and they will be addressed below.
  • 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.
  • this is probably obvious to most of us, but it goes without saying: 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.

Knowing how much to dilute for inhalation and topical use:

Essential oils must always be diluted before using topically or offering them to your dog to inhale when using as a remedy. Although dilution guidelines may differ depending on the individual essential oil an issue that needs addressing, the general rule of thumb for dogs is to use a 1% dilution for emotional issues, and a 2-3% dilution for physical issues.

How to use essential oil with your dog:

Based on research, remember this about using essential oils with your pets: LESS IS MORE.

Always start with 100% pure essential oils, and then DILUTE this oils before using them topically on your dogs. 

  • A rough guideline is to add about 3-6 drops of essential oils to 1 oz. (30 ml) of carrier oil.
  • Use a smaller amount of diluted oils on small dogs vs. big dogs – and fewer amounts of diluted oils on puppies and senior dogs.
  • Use a hydrosol, a water-based byproduct obtained during the steam distillation process of an essential oil.

Using essential oils with cats or dogs:

  • Do not use around eyes, ears, nose, or genitals.
  • Exercise caution with pregnant or nursing pets.
  • Know your pet’s health status and behavior, and discontinue use if concerns arise.

5 most common essential oils to use with dogs:

  • Lavender: Universal oil, can use pure or diluted. Useful for conditioning patients to a safe space. May help allergies, burns, ulcers, insomnia, car ride anxiety and car sickness, to name a few.
  • Cardamom: Diuretic, anti-bacterial, normalizes appetite, colic, coughs, heartburn, and nausea.
  • Chamomile: Anti-inflammatory, non-toxic, gentle and safe to use. Good for skin irritations, allergic reactions, burns.
  • Spearmint: Helps to reduce weight. Good for colic, diarrhea, nausea. Helps balance metabolism, stimulates gallbladder. Not for use with cats.
  • Thyme: Pain relief, good for arthritis and rheumatism. Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, excellent for infections and other skin issues.


Essential oils to avoid:

Essential oils can be dangerous to dogs when ingested or otherwise when coming into contact with the skin. Keep this in mind for any oils you’re using with your dog, and always diffuse. Some oils should be avoided, regardless, because of their higher risk to dogs. These include tea tree, cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, pine, sweet birch, wintergreen, and ylang-ylang.

Symptoms of essential oil poisoning for dogs have included:

  • Muscle tremors
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Low body temperature
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive pawing at mouth or face
  • Drooling
by shirley Arrington on April 28, 2018

I’m also a Doterra wellness advocate and interested in keeping dogs safe and well! This is one of the best articles as it shows how to dilute. I put peppermint oil on my dogs ear tips in summer so they feel cooler on our walks. Suggestion is to keep oil diffusers in a big open room especially around cats.If you are concerned about using oils topically, Doterra has s list of ones that are to avoid on cats. Dilution is key!

by Lana on April 18, 2018

I’m a doTerra 100% Pure Essential Oil Advocate & am learning about Oils for animals, actually it’s my passion as I’m an animal lover (especially dogs). Any information you have can only enhance the way we help them to rid them of all these chemicals we tend to give them & make them healthier as well – regards Lana


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