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Which Essential Oils Are Toxic To Dogs

essential oils that are toxic for dogs

Our pets are often akin to our babies and we need to be extra careful to keep our four legged friends safe. So when we use oil diffusers we must be cautious as to which ones we can use around our dogs or pets.

Certain essential oils like peppermint, cloves and anise will harm your dogs nasal passages as well as being potentially toxic. Other essential oils like tea tree or ylang ylang could produce other effects of poisoning. It is important to keep your dogs away from these oils, even in small amounts.

I want to run through what to do if you are at all concerned that your dog may have come into contact with the toxic essential oils.

What Are Essential Oils

Essential oils are plant extracts from the bark, stem, leaves, flowers, seeds or even roots of a plant. Not all plants are suitable for making oils from, but those that do, tend to have associated health benefits. This is why we use essential oils over fragrance oils for example.

Essential Oils That Are Toxic To Dogs

The stronger the aroma the more likely it is to be harmful to your dogs, however there is no rule of thumb for this. Peppermint oil is one in particular that is known to harm your dogs nasal cavities and will be too strong for them to handle, similarly cloves or anise.

So in general the more the essential oil is watered down the less likely the toxic levels are to harm your pet. However there is no promise of a safe method to receive the oils. For example a passive reed style of diffuser could be considered more safe if it was mixed well with a base oil, but if knocked over and licked it would be the introduced orally to your pets system.

The below is a list of some of the more well known harmful essential oils.

  • Anise Oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Cloves – very pungent aroma
  • Oregano Oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil – extremely pungent aroma
  • Pine oil
  • Sweet Birch oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Thyme (red or White) Oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Ylang Ylang

This list is not exhaustive as there is scant little evidence and research into essential oils. So we must be careful when using essential oils around our four legged friends.

essential oils that are toxic to dogs

Is It Safe To Diffuse Essential Oils Around Dogs?

There is some variation with how we use our essential oils around dogs and pets in general.

For those toxic essential oils we have mentioned it is not safe to use via a diffuser, topically or orally. It is equally important to ensure that essential oils are kept out of reach of our canine friends as they have a keen sense of smell and may well be attracted.

Diffusing fragrance oils can also be harmful to dogs if there are essential oils in them. It may sounds counter intuitive but sometimes the cheaper the fragrance oil is, the less likely it is to be harmful. However seeking medical advice prior to diffusing would be the best option.

Warnings For Using Essential Oils To Remove Ticks

I heard an old wives tale that cloves were a good cure for ticks or even fleas. The story went that applying the essential oil directly to cover the tick would suffocate it and then it would be removed. This can cause one or two issues. Firstly the suffering to the dog having to smell cloves essential oil, and then secondly the mouth parts of the tick may still be in the dog.

Do not apply essential oils directly to your pets fur or skin. This can cause topical burns as it would do in humans, essential oils were not meant to be applied directly and neat. So make sure to consult your vet and use a method of removal for ticks as recommended by them.

How The Toxic Effect Of Essential Oils Displays In Dogs

Each dog is different and this is not an exhaustive list, you know your pet best and if you suspect poisoning you must contact a veterinarian immediately.

There are many different ways our canine family members may present if they have come into contact with toxic essential oils. Ranging from drooling and sleepiness to a lowered body temperature and faster or slower breathing.

  • Redness of gums and lips or skin.
  • Shaking and wobbliness, tremors or difficulty standing
  • lowered body temperature
  • lower heart rate
  • Difficulty with their breathing resulting in panting or coughing
  • Vomiting and or drooling
  • Runny eyes or watery nose
  • Any abnormal behaviour
  • Diarrhoea and lethargy or depression

Your dog may have any or one or two of these symptoms. If you suspect that essential oil is to blame there are some important next steps to follow.

What To Do If You Think Your Dogs Have Been Poisoned

It is imperative that you seek urgent medical advice if you believe that your dog has come into contact with potentially toxic essential oils. There is further guidance from if you want to have a read before getting in touch with a veterinarian.

  1. First of all do not be tempted to try and induce vomiting if you think your dogs have ingested essential oils. Essential oils have a thickening effect to the lining of the lungs and forcing them to come back up can actually cause blockages.
  2. Retain the essential oil in a plastic bag and bring this with you to the vets. It will aid them in finding the right cure or treatment.
  3. If your dog has got essential oils on their fur, wash it off as quickly as possible and do not allow them to lick the affected area. You will still need to call one of the below numbers and make an emergency appointment with your vets.
  4. If your dog has inhaled the essential oil make sure to move them to somewhere with fresh air. This will help in the short term, they will still need medical attention and one of the below numbers can be a quick first point of contact if your veterinary surgery does not have an emergency number.
  5. For those who live in the US, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435 This is a 24 /7 number. There is a consultation fee which may be applied.
  6. If you live in the UK – Animal Poison Line 01202 50 9000 This is a 24/7 number where a consultation fee may also apply.
  7. If you live in Canada & the Caribbean Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661 a 24/7 dedicated line.
  8. For those who live in Australia , you can call 1300 TOX PET to talk to a 24 hr helpline
  9. If you are based in New Zealand you can call 0800TOX PET it is a free service, but you may need to then call a vet.
essential oils that are poisonous to dogs

Essential Oils That Are Safe For Dogs

There is such a gap in this area for research. Some essential oils like clary sage or roman chamomile are though to be safe for dogs, but I would avoid using all oils around them as you may not be able to detect any residual oils, but they may be.

For example if a diffuser has been use for peppermint essential oil, then used for clary sage there may be enough peppermint remaining to harm your dogs nose and make them unwell. Seeing as a dog’s nose is said to be between 10,000 and 100,000 times more sensitive than humans this seems likely.

There are ways to reduce the chances of dogs coming into contact with your essential oils including using a passive diffuser like reeds, terracotta or even a candle type that relies on heat dissipating it. However as none of these are 100% secure from furry paws or noses it is still a good idea to avoid it all together.


I like to use a diffuser for my essential oils, but only in areas where my dogs don’t go to. It can be hard to get a dog free zone in your home and those stronger smelling essential oils will still be painful for your canine friends.

As much as I love to use natural remedies, this doesn’t give them an automatic badge of safety. So make sure to keep your pets and essential oils out of reach of one another.

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