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Dangerous Essential Oils for Dogs

A dog and an oil diffuser

Just because something is good for people doesn’t mean that it is also good for dogs. For example, chocolate, grapes and raisins are all toxic for canines. Well, many essential oils fall into the same category. While humans might get benefits from essential oils, they can cause many health problems for your dog. Here is what you need to know about your dog and essential oils.

Natural Isn’t the Same as Safe

Essential oils are volatile organic compounds that are extracted from plants. They are what give plants their distinctive flavour or odour. Some seem to work well at repelling fleas and ticks, others might have a calming effect on your dog. Your veterinarian can advise you on what is safe for your dog and how to use it.

Many cleaning products contain essential oils because of their aromatic qualities, so you might want to check the ingredients on the label before using them around your dog.

The ASPCA states that “Due to the variability in concentration, formulation and possible quality of essential oils, it’s best to completely avoid directly applying them to your pet.” [1] Essential oils can react with your doggos body and wreak havoc on their natural chemistry. Since there has been very little research in this area, you are probably better off not using them around your furry baby.

Essential Oils that Might Be OK for Your Dog

There needs to be more research done on the health effects of essential oils and dogs, but the following oils appear to be safe to use in small amounts around your dog:

  • Bergamot oil
  • Cedarwood oil
  • Chamomile oil
  • Frankincense oil
  • Ginger oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Myrrh oil
  • Orange oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Turmeric oil

However, before you use any of these around your dog, it’s worthwhile to check with your vet. Caution should be used to avoid any health problems that they might cause.

Essential Oils to Avoid

There are at least 20 essential oils that people use for their health benefits that are dangerous for dogs. Because of their volatile nature, they can have many adverse effects on your dog’s health. These are essential oils that you need to avoid using around your forever friend:

  • Anise oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Garlic oil
  • Juniper oIl
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Pine oil
  • Sweet birch oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Yarrow oil
  • Ylang ylang

Your dog’s reaction can be affected by many variables, like the method of exposure, the amount they come in contact with and the concentration of the oil.

Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning

an oil diffuser

The list of symptoms is long and many other health-related problems can cause them as well, but if you think that your dog has been exposed and starts exhibiting some of the following symptoms, you need to be concerned.

Look for things like:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Hypothermia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low heart rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Redness of lips, eyes, or nose
  • Respiratory problems
  • Rubbing of face or ears
  • Runny nose
  • Seizures
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Unsteady on their feet

The sooner that you have your dog treated, the better. Exposure to essential oils, if not treated quickly, can cause your dog’s liver and/or kidneys to fail. And that is not something that you want your pet to suffer from.

First Aid for Essential Oil Poisoning

What should you do if you think that your dog has come in contact with an essential oil and is having an adverse reaction? Your immediate action is based on how your dog came in contact with it.

Call an expert. Keep your vet’s number along with the number of the pet poison hotline–the sooner that you start treating this, the better for your dog’s health.

If you suspect essential oil poisoning, smell your dog’s coat and skin, then smell their breath. This might help you determine how they came in contact with the essential oil.

If they inhaled the essential oil, take them outside immediately for some fresh air. 

If their skin has come in contact with it, wash the area well with dish soap to remove as much as you can from their skin and coat.

If they ingested the oil, don’t induce vomiting or give your dog activated charcoal. That can cause more harm than good. Tell your vet or the hotline which oil your dog ingested, and they can tell you what to do.

And make sure that you keep the oil in a sealed container so you can tell the hotline or vet exactly what your dog came in contact with.

Use with Caution

You can still enjoy the benefits of essential oils without harming your furry pal, but you will need to take some precautions. 

  • Store them where your dog can’t access them.
  • Don’t use them in the same room as your dog.
  • Use small amounts
  • Air the room out before you let your dog in

You can still use your diffuser, but make sure that you are not using it in a room with your dog. And store your essential oils in a place that your dog can’t access. Dogs are much more sensitive to smells than you are, and what you find to be a pleasant odor might be overwhelming your doggo’s sensitive nose–so you might want to stop using them completely.

If you are going to use essential oils, even those that are considered safe for dogs, use them with caution. And always check with your veterinarian first, because it doesn’t take much to endanger your dog’s health. With care and caution, you can still use them, and you and your forever friend can enjoy long, healthy lives together.

[1] The Essentials of Essential Oils around Pets