Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds that come from the seeds, bark, stems, flowers and roots of plants. If you’ve used them before, I’m sure you’re already familiar with how incredibly potent, fragrant and beneficial they can be to your health, but have you ever tried essential oils for pets?
According to the American Kennel Club, “Preliminary research suggests that these potent oils may have some health benefits for dogs and humans, and many holistic veterinarians incorporate essential oils into their practices.” Many pet owners today are turning to essential oils for a variety of health concerns in their pets, including flea and tick prevention, skin issues, and behavior problems like anxiety. (1)
While using essential oils for pets is known to have its benefits, it’s vital to know which oils are safe to use, how to use them, and to remember that, like people, each animal is different and may react uniquely to a particular essential oil. Similar to the use of oils with children, it’s absolutely crucial to remember that a little goes a long, long way with pets.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?
If you’re wondering about the safety of essential oils for pets, the answer is that some essential oils are considered OK for use with pets. There are a good amount of essential oils that have been deemed safe and, even better helpful, to pet health. However, there are also many essential oils toxic to dogs and cats (and animals in general), which I will talk about later in this article. But first, are you ready to learn all about the best essential oils for pets, specifically dogs and cats?
Essential Oils for Pets: 5 Best Oils + Uses for Dogs
What essential oils are OK for dogs? The following oils are not only OK for dogs, but they’re also known to have some really impressive potential benefits!
Below is a short list of essential oils that experts say are safe to use on dogs:
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is a popular choice among humans so maybe you already have this incredible essential oil on hand for your furry friend. If you’re looking for essential oils for dog odor, lavender is a great scent that pet owners tend to love too. Plus, studies demonstrate lavender’s amazing helpful effects on cases of PTSD as well as its anti-anxiety ability, so it will likely calm both you and your pet. (2, 3)
For pets like dogs, lavender essential oil’s calming effects can be very helpful for anxiety (often induced by visits to the vet or car rides), car sickness or sleep troubles. A 2006 clinical trial looked at the effects of lavender essential oil on 32 dogs with a history of travel-induced excitement in their owners’ cars. What did they find? The dogs exposed to the scent of lavender oil spent a significant amount more time resting and sitting and a lot less time moving around and vocalizing. Overall, the researchers conclude, “Traditional treatments for travel-induced excitement in dogs may be time-consuming, expensive, or associated with adverse effects. Aromatherapy in the form of diffused lavender odor may offer a practical alternative treatment for travel-induced excitement in this species.” (4)
Lavender oil is a great topical remedy for canine skin concerns like allergies and burns. It’s also a common choice of essential oils for dog wounds and essential oils for dogs itching. (5)
2. Peppermint Oil
You may already be familiar with this popular, refreshing essential oil. Will peppermint oil hurt dogs? Peppermint is one of the top recommended essential oils to get rid of fleas in dogs. You’ll actually find peppermint as one of the more commonly used essential oils for dog flea repellent for sale in pet shops and online today.
According to Dr. Janet Roark, a veterinarian and the owner of Hill Country Mobile Veterinary Service in Austin, Texas, “Peppermint essential oil can be used to cool sore muscles, energize tired animals, and soothe upset stomachs. It refreshes the air when diffused and can freshen breath with taken internally. This oil can open the airways and promote a healthy respiratory tract, as well as soothe aching joints.”
As an energizing oil, it can be a great mood booster for animals too. Roark, who is also known as the “Essential Oil Vet,” instructs that peppermint oil is best used topically with dogs. (6)
The American Kennel Club has a great essential oil dog shampoo recipe that includes several recommendations for essential oils for dog fleas prevention, including peppermint. Check out it Flea-Repellent Dog Shampoo with Essential Oils, which includes simple ingredients you may likely have on hand already. Using a shampoo like this regularly is the perfect way to use essential oils to kill fleas on dogs.
3. Chamomile Oil
Roman chamomile oil is a well-known anti-inflammatory that is a great choice for both humans and dogs alike if the problem is skin irritation, burns, wounds, ulcers, or eczema. (7, 8) This is a very gentle essential oil that can also help calm a stressed-out dog. (9)
If you’re looking for essential oils recipes for dogs using chamomile oil, check out this super easy Calming Spray Recipe that also includes lavender oil.
4. Frankincense Oil
Can you use frankincense oil for dogs? For most dogs, the answer is “yes!” In fact, Dr. Richard Palmquist, chief of integrative health services at Centinela Animal Hospital in Inglewood, Calif., says that using frankincense oil in some cases of cancer and tumors can be very helpful. (10) The use of frankincense oil in pet cancer isn’t that surprising when you consider that research has shown the powerful potential of frankincense oil to help fight some forms of human cancer, including bladder cancer. (11)
Frankincense oil is known to have potent antimicrobial abilities, making it a great choice for germ-fighting and immune boosting too. (12) Research using animal models (mice) also shows that this ancient oil has powerful anti-depressive effects. (13)
. Cedarwood Oil
According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, cedarwood oil (Cedrus Atlantica or Cedrus deodara) is a terrific natural pest repellent. Cedarwood essential oil when used in dogs also can act as an antiseptic for the lungs, expectorant for coughs (like kennel cough), circulation stimulator (making it helpful for bodily pains and arthritis), hair growth booster and dandruff reducer, diuretic, and a general calming agent that can help with behavior concerns like shyness or nervous aggression. (14)