I’ve used essential oils in my home and in products for my own skincare for years. It’s great to be able to use some essential oils to benefit my dogs too, especially if it means treating them with effective, natural remedies rather than potentially dangerous, chemical products. There are lots of fantastic products we can use dog-safe essential oils in.
Essential oils that are bad for dogs
Some essential oils are toxic to dogs though, so please, avoid using the following in oil burners, diffusers or in products for your dog:
ESSENTIAL OILS THAT ARE TOXIC TO DOGS:
Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
Boldo (Peumus boldus)
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
Cassia (Cassia fistula)
Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Red or White Thyme
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Santalina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Essential oils that are good for dogs
The following essential oils are dog-safe. However, not all dogs like essential oils, so it is important to monitor your pooch when using them. Make sure she can leave the room if she wishes to, and try to have a window open. If you see that she tries to move away from whatever essential oil product you are using, it is possible that she finds it uncomfortable or dislikes it. In this case, try diluting it further, or try using another oil, or accept that she doesn’t want it.
- Carrot Seed
- Cedarwood Atlas
- Chamomile, German
- Chamomile, Roman
- Clary Sage
- Eucalyptus Radiata
- Mandarin, Green
- Marjaram, Sweet
- Orange, Sweet
- Ravensare Aromatica
- Thyme Chemotypes
Now that we’ve covered which essential oils you can’t use for your dog, and which you can, let’s look at some ways to use them,
Lickable nose and paw balm
This balm can be used on your pooch’s paws, on her nose, and on you too! It uses very few ingredients and is quick and easy to make. There are optional extras you can add to make it last longer or to make it more of a healing balm.
DIY paw balm with essential oils recipe
- Olive oil 4 tablespoons
- Coconut oil 4 tablespoons
- Beeswax 2 tablespoons
- 20 drops Vitamin E (optional- this functions as a natural preservative)
- 10 drops Lavender essential oil
- 10 drops Geranium essential oil
- On a low heat, gently heat the oils and the beeswax in a double boiler/ bain marie (one smaller pan inside a larger pan, the larger pan has water in it, the smaller pan contains the ingredients).
- Stir continuously until the beeswax has melted
- Add the Vitamin E if using
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then add the essential oils if using
- Pour into whatever jars you will be using, leaving the lids OFF
- Once fully set and cool, put the lid on
Note: When using a double boiler / bain marie system, make sure the bottom of the smaller pan floats in the water rather than sits on the bottom of the larger pot. This prevents the beeswax from melting unevenly or scorching.
Many recipes for paw balm instruct you to pop a mason jar in a stock pot full of water. It can be quite tricky to hold a mason jar in place while you stir the ingredients, at the same time trying to keep the jar off the bottom of the stock pot. I find it easier to melt the ingredients in a saucepan with a handle – that way I’m less likely to burn myself. But hey, at least I’d have a nice, healing salve to use on the burn!
I have also seen some paw balm recipes that instruct you to microwave the ingredients to heat them. You could of course try this, though it’s worth noting that olive oil does not heat well in microwaves (Ref). It may take slightly longer and it involves more washing up afterwards, but I think it’s worth melting everything together properly in a double boiler / bain marie system.
A note on jars: if you plan to apply this to your dog’s paws or nose (or yourself) with your fingers, then any jar that you can get your finger in will do. If the balm is for your dog’s paws, it is easier to use a jar that is wide enough to put your dog’s paw into, and apply the balm directly.
I’ve also made another dog paw balm which can be used on skin too so it’s great for minor cuts and grazes. See the tutorial here.
I’ve never bothered to make my own shampoo base (though I did make soap for many years). For a great dog shampoo with essential oils, I just use a 240ml (8oz) natural, store-bought dog shampoo (with no nasty chemicals or perfume) and I add approx. 15 drops of essential oils to it.
Here are some essential oil combinations that you could try. Note: you add the 15 drops of essential oils to the entire bottle of shampoo. Shake to mix it properly.
Itchy dog combination
5 drops rosewood
5 drops lavender
3 drops geranium (this is my favourite essential oil fragrance)
2 drops carrot seed
Flea repellent combination
6 drops peppermint
4 drops lemon
3 drops clary sage
2 drops citronella
Stinky dog combination
4 drops sweet orange
4 drops lemon
4 drops grapefruit
3 drops lime
Essential oils for flea and tick control
Last year I stopped using over-the-counter chemical products to combat fleas and ticks. Before that, although I’d used diatomaceous earth (DE) for years to help control fleas and ticks on my dogs, I had also used flea collars and topical, chemical treatments.
It’s now the second year that we’ve successfully handled the problem of fleas and ticks with only natural products. We use a combination of topically applied formulas, essential oils diffused in the home, and DE in the home and on the dogs. Read more details in the full article here.
Topically applied anti-tick formulas
If you live in an area where ticks are a real problem, you might need to apply the formula daily, especially if your dogs spend a lot of time outside.
DoTERRA make a blend called Terrashield which is designed to help protect you against outdoor beasties. It’s dog-safe and you can add some anti-tick essential oils to it, such as geranium, lemongrass, rosemary and clary sage.
Mix the Terrashield, a teaspoon of water, a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as castor / hazlenut / sweet almond), and 3 drops of each of the essential oils in a spray bottle. Shake it before using it.
Spritz it on your dog (be careful to avoid the eyes/ nose/ mouth!) and rub it on. If your dog dislikes the sound of the spray bottle, apply it to your hands and wipe it directly onto your dog. The idea is to spritz your dog, not soak her! You can also spray the same formula onto her collar or bandana.
Topically applied anti-flea formulas
For fleas, I make up a solution of a blend of carrier oils and essential oils. I dab it on my dogs, on the back of their necks, mid-spine, the tail base and on their chests, roughly on a weekly basis. I also put a couple of drops on their bandanas. This is the solution:
See this in-depth article for more information on combatting fleas and ticks naturally, including some DIY topical spray recipes using essential oils.
Diffusing insect-repellent essential oils in the home
The smell of these essential oils can help to repel fleas and ticks. It won’t kill them, but since fleas and ticks dislike the smell of these oils, they can assist in keeping the home flea or tick free. Pop a few drops in your oil burner or diffuser.
- Cedarwood Atlas (repels fleas)
- Eucalytus Radiata (repels fleas)
- Geranium (repels ticks)
- Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi) (repels fleas)
Essential oils for calming nervous dogs
These essential oils can have a calming effect on dogs and could be useful, for example, if your dog has to have treatment that she finds stressful, such as grooming. Try a combination of these calming essential oils in an oil burner or diffuser to help relax her.
- Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
- Neroli (Citrus aurantium – from the flowers of the plant)
- Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium – from the leaves/twigs of the plant)
- Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
- Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
- Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
- Vetiver (Vetivera zizanoides)
For more tips on how to calm dogs that are nervous around loud noises such as fireworks and storms, see this article.
Essential oils for dog massage
I use a formula of essential oils in a carrier oil when I’m giving my elderly dog a massage. Rather than lather my dog in oils, I just rub a few drops of the formula between my hands before massaging each area of my dog. This enhances and strengthens the massage for him. It’s nice for me too! See how to massage your dog in this article.
If you plan to use essential oils topically on your dog during his massage, be sure to use pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Many of the essential oils available to buy are adulterated and could be harmful to both our dogs and us.
All essential oils should be diluted first with a carrier oil before using them. This is the formula that I use when giving my dog a massage:
Essential oils for oil diffusers / oil burners
I love my dogs to bits, but I don’t appreciate the house smelling of dog at all! I always used to use an oil burner to make my home smell delicious, but earlier this year I treated myself to this nebulising diffuser. I can’t recommend it enough!
No more faffing with candles or having to remember to top up the water and oil in the burner! My new little gadget is more efficient at dispersing the oil into the room too. Whats more, it’s programmable so I can leave it running as long as I like. Mine is sleek and compact, but there are lots of stylish, beautiful designs on the market.
However, with the rise in popularity of essential oil burners and diffusers, there has been an increasing number of cases of dogs presenting with adverse reactions, including confusion, being unaware of their surroundings, lacking coordination and even sometimes, being unsure of who their owners were.
It turns out that the oils the pet-parents were burning were toxic to their dog. You can read more about it in this article if you are concerned about which oils you can safely burn in your oil burner or diffuser.
Essential oils can really benefit dogs, but it’s important to make sure you are using good quality oils, and nothing that is bad for your dog. If you are unsure about the use of essential oils for your dog, get advice from a holistic veterinarian.
Further reading and resources:
My go-to resource for information about essential oils and formulas comes from the fantastic Holistic Aromatherapy For Animals book, by Kristen Leigh Bell. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s approachable and easy to understand.