Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent oils that serve a variety of purposes, from promoting relaxation to reducing inflammation. Whether you are an avid user of essential oils or have just recently discovered their benefits, it is natural to wonder if your furry friend could benefit from them as well. However, the truth is that essential oils can be incredibly dangerous for pets, including dogs. It is essential to know what is and is not safe before attempting to use any essential oils on your dog.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs to Take?
Unless explicitly directed by a veterinarian, essential oils should never be given to dogs orally. Even non-toxic essential oils have the potential to cause digestive upset when consumed. The concentration of essential oils is much higher than what a dog’s system can handle, which increases the likelihood of toxicity and side effects when consumed orally. Therefore, it is best to avoid giving essential oils to your dog orally.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs at All?
There are only a handful of essential oils that are safe for dogs to be around, and it is generally advised to avoid any essential oil use for pets. There are risks involved when using essential oils on pets, and because they are not subject to the same regulations as medications, there is a risk of contamination and unknown concentrations of active ingredients. Inhaled essential oils can be dangerous for your dog, leading to respiratory discomfort and distress, even when used in diffusers for their pleasant aroma. Essential oils applied topically to the skin can also cause skin irritation and should also be avoided.
It is essential to understand that essential oils are lipophilic, meaning they can be absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream. The liver is responsible for metabolizing essential oils, and an abundance of essential oils may stress the body. Even essential oil-based products formulated for use on pets, such as shampoos, may cause irritation. Some pet owners have used lavender, cedarwood, and bergamot oils, diluting them thoroughly, and consider them safe around dogs, but further research is needed to ensure their safety.
In general, it is best to talk to your vet before using any products containing essential oils on your dog, even if the products are formulated for use on pets.
Toxic Essential Oils
To keep your dog safe, you need to know what essential oils are toxic for dogs. While most essential oils pose the risk of mild side effects, some are truly toxic and can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, for dogs.
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is a commonly used essential oil. Many people use it for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. However, this essential oil is extremely dangerous for dogs, even leading to central nervous system depression in some cases.
Cinnamon essential oil is not safe for dogs, although cinnamon itself is nontoxic and generally considered safe for dogs. Eucalyptus can be dangerous for dogs, and all forms of mint, including spearmint, wintergreen, and peppermint essential oils, are considered toxic to dogs. Lemon essential oil, along with the similarly smelling lemongrass, is considered unsafe for use around dogs. Cloves are a popular seasonal scent around Christmas time, but this essential oil is toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs. Bitter almond is also toxic to dogs in every form and can lead to respiratory failure in some cases.
In almost all cases, essential oils are not considered safe for dogs to take. Some essential oils may be safe for being around dogs, and some might even be safe enough to use on dogs, but a veterinarian should be the one guiding the use of any essential oils. This applies to products that are formulated for dogs as well. When it comes to your pet’s health and safety, it is better to err on the side of caution and consult a professional before attempting to use any essential oils or essential oil-based products on your dog.