Best Essential Oils for Dogs: Safely Treat Skin Conditions, Anxiety and More

Do you use essential oils to help treat your dog’s skin conditions, separation anxiety or other issues? If not, you may want to consider it! Essential oils can be a safe and effective way to help improve your pup’s health. Before using them, there are a few things pet parents should know.

In this post, I’ll tell you about the best essential oils for dogs, what their benefits are and how to use them safely. I also have a list of the oils that are toxic to dogs that you need to avoid.

I’ve been using essential oils in my life for years. I love that they’re a safe and natural way to take care of so many things. Recently, I interviewed essential oil and holistic pet care experts to get more information about what oils can help our dogs the most. I’ve included a lot of her research and product links in this post so you can find the same high quality oils that I’m using with my own dogs.

best essential oils for dogs

What Can Pure Essential Oils Do For Your Dog?

Just a few drops of essential oil is all you need! Pure essential oils are concentrated formulas. Although they usually come in little bottles, they will last you a long time! When you shop, check to see where the plants for the oils are sourced from and that it doesn’t contain any unnecessary additives. You want all-natural essential oils, ideally therapeutic grade. You should also look for “organic” on the label to ensure your oil doesn’t contain pesticides.

As you get into essential oil use, keep in mind that your dog’s sense of smell is up to 10,000 times better than ours! A single drop of the right essential oils all you need when you use it as aroma therapy. Just because your whole room doesn’t smell like the scent, that doesn’t mean it’s not working. Less is more!

How to Apply Essential Oils to Your Dog

I mention aroma therapy above because there are different ways to use essential oils to get their benefits. The first one most of us think of is in a diffuser of some kind. Some oils are most effective when you or your dog smell them. I think of lavender and how it naturally calms.

Other oils can be very effective when consumed as a tincture or added to a treat or food. Ginger or lemongrass oil are great for digestion. You can drop a diluted blend right in your dog’s mouth. Their mucous membranes (aka tongue and gums) will absorb the oil and deliver it straight to the bloodstream so it can get to work!

A third way that you give essential oils to your pup is with topical application – applying it right to their skin or your dog’s coat with a spray bottle. Calendula comes to mind to apply topically because of it’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities. It’s good for healing cracked paw pads and is an ingredient in one of my favorite cleansing paw balms from Simply Sage.

Calendula Paw Balm Simply Sage

TREAT BREAK >> Olfactory Enrichment is one of the 7 types of canine enrichment. Olfactory means using your sense of smell. Let your dog tap into their amazing instinctual sense of smell to get a whiff of new scents. For this type of canine enrichment, you always want to let your dog choose what to sniff and only let them sniff safe things (no chemicals or other animal’s poop).

I’ll write more about essential oil safety at the end of this post, but for now, I do want to mention one important thing. With most essential oils that are being applied topically or ingested, you need to dilute them. They are too strong on their own because the essence is so concentrated.

You can buy essential oil blends for pets that are already diluted in a carrier oil. In some cases, pet owners might want to dilute the oils at home in something like olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil. Coconut oil is especially great for essential oils you give to your dog because it’s already naturally antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. That makes it great for topical applications and ones that are ingested.

Essential Oil Therapy is Veterinarian Approved

Your holistic veterinarian or vet that practices alternative medicine or integrative medicine may include essential oils in their treatment of your dog.

Dr. Janet Roark calls herself the Essential Oil Vet and offers a lot of educational resources for other professionals to learn how to safely treat animals with natural essential oils. Dr. Roark is based in Austin, Texas where she’s been practicing veterinary medicine for 16 years. She even published an book with over 100 pet-safe diffuser blends and essential oil recipes.

She emphasizes the importance of buying the highest quality therapeutic-grade essential oils. She trusts the doTerra brand, which you’ve probably heard of. If you need a dog lover doTerra rep, check out my friend E Standfield (you can see how she uses the oils with her dogs on Instagram.) Below photo by @askestanfield.

cedarwood essential oil for dog by estanfield

7 Best Essential Oils for Dogs and Ones to Avoid

From natural flea and tick prevention to anxiety relief and sore joints, use of essential oils can have so many health benefits for our dogs. There are so many different oils out there! You might have heard that some are poisonous to dogs. It’s important to know which oils are safe to use with your pup and what their benefits are.

Let’s start off by sharing what essential oils you need to steer clear of with your pet before we get into the beneficial ones.

These essential oils are toxic to dogs:

  • Cinnamon
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch (different from white birch which can be used in scent work training)
  • Tea tree oil
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang
  • Also, anything labeled liquid potpourri

If your pet happens to ingest or come in contact with these, you should keep an eye out for any signs of allergic reactions of poisoning. An adverse reaction may include lethargy, vomiting, pawing at their face or a rash. If you notice these symptoms, please contact your vet to see what kind of treatment is needed.

Now, let’s talk about the essential oils YOU CAN USE with your dog! You might want to look for essential oil blends that combine several different oils for maximum benefits. I recently interviewed Sara Grace Newhall of Dog Love Oils about her line of essential oil blends. Listen to that interview on my podcast! 

Sara Grace told me about some of her favorite blends that include Frankincense, Lavender, Lemongrass, Ginger, Chamomile and more. 

Here are some of the key benefits of these pet safe essential oils. See which ones might help your furry friend! The best part about these is that dogs and dog owners can share in the benefits! If you need to chill out, soothe sore joints or settle your tummy, you can use a lot of these on yourself, too.

TREAT BREAK >> Essential oils are a great addition to other holistic health practices you do with your dog. Burt and Lucy are posing below with products from some of my recent podcast guests. In addition to essential oil sprays from Dog Love Oils, there’s medicinal mushrooms from Emisha Animal Wellness and CBD Oil developed by Angela Ardolino, the leading expert of CBD for pets.

Dog Safe Essential Oils

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil is one of the most commonly used scents for aroma therapy. It’s a very calming oil that can help soothe your dog when they’re stressed. I like to use lavender in an essential oil diffuser at the end of the day when my dogs and I are getting ready to go to bed. it’s also helpful to put on the diffuse when I have to leave the dogs at home alone because it can help calm their separation anxiety.

Chamomile Essential Oil

Another popular essential oil for calming is chamomile. Think of it as your relaxing cup of tea before bedtime. Chamomile can help to calm your dog’s digestive system and their attitude.

Lemongrass Essential Oil

After your dog eats breakfast or dinner, you might want to give them a little dab of lemongrass essential oil. It’s blended with ginger, fennel and frankincense in Dog Love Oil’s Digest Assist. Those are all great ingredients for digestion! Lemongrass can ease constipation, nausea and generally soothe your pup’s tummy.

Calendula Oil

A popular natural ingredient in paw balms and other healing treatments is Calendula Oil. It has anti-inflammatory powers and clinical studies so far suggest that it can accelerate how fast a wound will heal. No wonder we love to use it in a balm for cracked and touch paw pads!

Frankincense Oil

When my old dog Lola was suffering from arthritis, someone recommended giving her a massage with frankincense oil blended with coconut oil. The Frankincense is warming and can help relieve joint pain. I found the coconut oil blend to be kind of messy and left her fur greasy. So now I like to use this Sore Joint Spray from Dog Love Oils. It’s a spray that doesn’t leave any greasy residue on my dog’s fur. Frankincense is also an ingredient in the Hot Spot Spray that inspired Sara Grace to start Dog Love Oils. The blend she created transformed her dog’s skin condition.

Marjoram Oil

Another warming oil is marjoram. It can be used to help ease your dogs nerves in anxious situations like travel, when guests are coming over or thunderstorms. It’s a great pick for sensitive or emotional dogs who get thrown off by new or stressful situations. Here’s a nice spray that you can mist in a room or on your dog’s bed. It’s a blend of chamomile, lavender and sweet marjoram, all wonderfully dog-safe oils!

Cedarwood Essential Oil

If you’re looking to naturally repel insects, reach for cedarwood essential oil. It’s part of the blend in Dog Love Oils Flea & Tick Spray. You’ll also find cedarwood oil in this Herbal Collar. Natural bug repellent is another way to use essential oils with your pup!

health benefits of essential oils for dogs

How To Safely Use Essential Oils for Your Dog

It’s really important that you know how to safely use essential oils to treat your dog’s health issues. Make sure that you’re only putting your dog in contact with pet-safe essential oils. The ones I’ve listed above are the best essential oils for dogs to start with.

I also want to mention that just because something is listed as dog-safe does not mean that your individual dog is going to enjoy it. Think about your crazy friend who likes the smell of gasoline or your other friend who can’t stand cilantro… just like us, our dogs have different smell and taste preferences. 

Always give your dog a choice to use the essential oils. You can open up a bottle of pure essential oil near your dog and let them be around the scent for a while before trying to apply it to them or putting it in a diffuser. Always use these oils in a well-ventilated area where your dog has the option of getting up and walking away. 

If you’re worried that your dog has become sick from being in contact with an essential oil or a chemical fragrance, there are side effects you can look for.  Watch out for skin irritation like redness or a rash. Watch for any signs of gastrointestinal upset like diahrea, vomiting or constipation. More severe side effects that your veterinarian will be able to detect are liver failure or high blood pressure. When in doubt, always check with your vet to make sure your holistic treatments at home are safe.

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Tori Mistick Labrador Dog Mom Blog

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Tori Mistick is the ultimate Dog Mom Lifestyle blogger with a passion for style, chocolate labs and the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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