A Beginners Guide to Safely Using Essential Oils for Dogs

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Many pet parents enjoy using essential oils on themselves and to replace products in their homes to ensure there are no issues with hidden toxic ingredients. This is especially beneficial to do with your cleaning supplies, especially with your furry friends walking around bare-paw on freshly cleaned floors. But did you know essential oils may also benefit your dog's overall emotional and physical wellbeing??

Have you ever wondered exactly how you can use your oils on your dogs?

We thoroughly love how versatile these little oil bottles are! Even our dogs love them! I personally have a Rottweiler and a Newfoundland who often lounge near the diffuser, and are right at my side when opening our oils case.​ My dogs have enjoyed using oils for everything between ear cleaning needs to repelling pests, and even have oils in their fur shampoo.

In fact, most of the oils you use on yourself, you can also use on your dog!

A quick disclaimer… the information provided in this post is solely intended for providing information based on my personal research and experiences. This post is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure any diseases or ailments. I am not a veterinarian or medical professional. Please consult with a holistic veterinarian (our favorite is at the Center for Animal Healing in Virginia Beach, VA).

Tips for introducing essential oils to your dog

Please introduce essential oils to your dog slowly… they are much more sensitive than we are.

Just as when we begin using essential oils, we think “less is more” – the same goes for your dogs! Less is more. Start with using a little bit at a time, and look for signs of discomfort. This could be behavioral changes, sneezing, panting, dizziness, disorientation, excessive thirst, or just a gut feeling that something isn't right.

Size does matter, so if you're applying oils topically, make sure you dilute more for smaller dogs.

My two dogs weigh 100-120 lbs. When I put oils together for them I tend to dilute about 2-5 drops per 5ml. For smaller dogs I recommend diluting more. Basically, I tend to treat dogs like children when it comes to safety and dilutions. If your dog is under 50 lbs, consider diluting your oils 1 drop per 5ml.

Keep in mind… dogs are much more sensitive than we are.

It is ok to diffuse around them, but make sure they have access to leave the room if the aroma is too much. And know your dog's normal behavior. Most cases, a dog will know when s/he has had enough, and will move away from the diffuser into another room. Some cases, the dog will want to be with his/her person at all times, refusing to leave even when uncomfortable. Because of this, I recommend not diffusing more than 10 mins at a time. Give your dog time to get used to it before leaving the diffuser on all day.

They will know when they've had enough and when they need more, so if you're dog is one to stay next to you at all costs, look for signs that may indicate they've had enough. And always be sure to give them a way to leave the room if they feel the need.

Sometimes my dogs lounge next to the table our diffuser is on in the living room, sometimes they hang out on the opposite side of the room, and sometimes they leave the room… the important part is they are given a choice.

Choosing an essential oil brand healthy enough to use around your dogs:

Contrary to what many popular bloggers believe, essential oils are NOT created equally. There are many unethical practices that plague the essential oil industry that may actually cause harm to your dog (and to you too).

Quality really is everything when it comes to using essential oils, especially if you're using them therapeutically. Unfortunately most people see deceptive marketing and interpret them to be facts. Anything labeled “100% pure” or “___ grade” is 100% marketing. In fact, there is no legal definition of what an essential oil is, so companies are able to get away with a lot of deception, legally. Don't miss my post highlighting the 10+ dirty little secrets of the essential oil industry to ensure you're not wasting your money on brands who are only looking for profits and don't have your best interests in mind.

There are a few essential oils you should avoid using around dogs:

** Please note this is for using the oils individually. If you choose to use them as individual oils, please consult with a holistic veterinarian knowledgable in essential oils. At the minimum, make sure you have and use a quality animal essential oils reference guide. Using some of these oils in blends may be ok because of the dilution rates.

Some of these oils are ok around dogs when highly diluted with other oils and carrier oils. The warning is more so for the oils by themselves. Please do your research before using any of the oils mentioned above.

A note about tea tree essential oil (one of our most frequently asked questions)

In most cases, tea tree oil should be avoided for use on dogs, especially if you're using an inexpensive oil brand. However, there have been some reports that using tea tree on large dogs may be therapeutic IF you're using a high quality brand, it is diluted more than normal, and you are using it for very short amounts of time.

I highly recommend grabbing an essential oils reference guide specific to using oils on animals. There are two essential oil reference books for animals that I especially love, and both include a full section about dogs (also has sections for cats, livestock, birds…etc). This ADR that is not based on any specific brand, and this Animal Desk Reference specific to Young Living.

My favorite essential oils to use on dogs

I love how versatile those oils are! The same popular ones you can use on yourself that can conveniently be used on your dog too!

Copaiba essential oil is great to use on active and older dogs. It helps support your dogs' natural response to irritation, healthy digestion, and inflammation. This oil is fantastic for helping your do gain greater mobility and flexibility.

To use copaiba, you can add it in with their shampoo or diffuse it with lavender. You may also add some Copaiba Vitality into your dogs' food.

Frankincense essential oil has been studied extensively for its physical and emotional benefits. Diffusing frankincense oil, or applying it to your pet's fur, may help them focus, help them manage stress, and support their overall wellness, skin health, and coat.

Lavender essential oil is a must have in every home. It is known to help sooth and support your pet's skin, sooth and relax your dog's mind (especially great for thunderstorms and 4th of July fireworks). It's one of those oils we often take with us on hikes. I love massaging some behind my dogs' ears to help them relax and unwind, especially when we pull into new campgrounds (we do full time live in an RV).

Peppermint essential oil helps a lot with mental clarity and focus. This is a very strong oil, so you won't need nearly as much as you would normally use with other oils. It helps support normal digestion, cools and calms the mind, lessens the fear of the unknown, and is very useful when training new concepts.

Lemon essential oil is the perfect helper creating a clean, fresh aroma in your home (our secret weapon for not having a house that smells like animals). Lemon oil is also great for training! Add some lemon oil to a ribbon to leave at the door for “scent marking” to help older dogs find their way outside, or to help puppies associate the scent to house training.

I also use lemon essential oil a lot with baking soda to clean messes from the carpet and when mopping floors.

Best Essential Oil Blends for Dogs

Purification is one of my favorite oils to use on our dogs. It is great to spritz on their fur (especially around their legs) to help keep pests away. It is also perfect to keep on hand to combat the dirty/wet dog odor in the car.

Stress Away Essential Oil Blend is very useful for helping the whole family relax and enjoy the moment. We diffuse it for helping us relax, reduce mental irritation, chill out situational anxiety, and to unwind before bed. This blend is especially helpful for all of us in the car to help keep calm from tense driving situations. We often diffuse a little in the car with a drop of peppermint (smells like a thin mint cookie) to keep us calm and alert.

Thieves Essential Oil Blend is one of our most used oils. It helps support your dogs' overall wellness and a healthy immune response. It also helps support healthy respiration, and creates a calm and comforting environment. We use this oil in our cleaning too.

R.C. is an essential oil blend that is great for exercise and long runs. We diffuse it sometimes to help with respiratory needs, but its also one of my go-to oils for when we are hiking or taking early morning runs. It helps a lot with preventing sore muscles when applied before working out, and does wonders for opening up your lungs when running around with your dogs.

Essential Oil Blends formulated Just For Dogs

One thing about the brand of oils we use, Young Living, that I love is how dedicated they are to simplifying everything about using oils… including oils for pets. They actually have a personal care product line and collection of essential oils just for animals! Though, of course, they can be used on people too. ​

​The AnimalScents essential oils are pre-diluted for larger animals. If you have a smaller dog or decide to use them on your cat, please further dilute them. Even with my dogs being 100+ lbs, I still add a little more carrier oil to the oils I use on them.

essential oil blends specially formulated for dogs, cats, horses, livestock, animals

DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Dogs

Using your oils, you can make an unlimited amount of different things to help support a healthy dog and home.

DIY Day-Trippers Spritz

DEET and other bug sprays can be harmful to your health, and your dog's health. Instead, there are a few essential oils that can make being outside not so annoying, especially with having citronella essential oil around! Here is one of our favorite outdoor sprays to help with annoying bugs:

To make your own DIY outdoor spray, combine 4 drops each of Purification Essential Oil Blend and citronella essential oil, 2 drops of palo santo essential oil, and 1 drop each of cedarwood and thyme essential oils. Add the oils into a 4 oz glass spray bottle with a pinch of salt, and fill the rest of the bottle with water.

DIY Dog Ear Cleaning Wipes

Cleaning ears is so important! But have you stopped and looked at the ingredients at the products in most pet supply stores? Ingredients like DMDM Hydrantoin really cause concern putting it on our furry family members, especially when making ear wipes is so easy to do.

I don't know about your house, but sometimes our dogs get into something or just end up with that doggie odor at the worst time possible for a bath (like post-neuter surgery… 10 mins before needing to get in the car… moments before a guest arrives… or during early months of my latest pregnancy when smells were just too much to handle)… we made some of this “doggie cologne” and it made life so much more enjoyable!

** quick tip… if your dog has short fur, you may want to add 1/4 cup witchazel with 3/4 cup water and shake before you spray, just in case some gets down by the skin. Both my dogs have long, double coats, so we aren't as worried about that as long as the spray is kept away from their faces and bellies. ​

Make a DIY dog spray to refresh the smell of your dog's coat without the toxins

If you don't have Purification or use a different brand, lemongrass by itself is a good replacement, just reduce the drops to 10.

Essential Oil Infused Supplements For Dogs

Just as people do, dogs may excel with oil-infused supplements to boost their nutrition.​

If your dog doesn't have sensitivities to night shades, Ningxia Red is an excellent superfood that can provide whole-body support. We don't give more than half an ounce each day. If your dog does have sensitivities to night shades, you may want to hold off. While studies have shown Ningxia Red's wolf berries do not cause inflammation the way typical night shades do, I do stress caution until you know how your dog responds.

AgilEase is a turmeric and frankincense supplement that specifically helps with bones, joints, and fluid movement. I personally give this to my 9 year old Rottie frequently to help his stiff joints so he can keep up with us while we hike new locations.

OmegaGize ​supports normal brain, eye, heart, joint, and immune functioning.

Learn More About Essential Oils

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Looking for more info about essential oils and adopting a healthier lifestyle? Be sure to check out our Healthy Home online course for tips on how to identify and replace common harmful products from your home.

20 thoughts on “A Beginners Guide to Safely Using Essential Oils for Dogs”

    1. Unfortunately, none of our writers are qualified vets. Because of that, I cannot answer this question for you in full legally and ethically. Based on my personal experiences, my go-to for my dog with similar situations is the oil blend Infect Away and loading up on immune-supporting supplements and dietary changes, but I cannot guarantee it will work for you because of our lack of veterinarian expertise, especially with not knowing anything about the animal’s health history or what the cause of infection is. Best of luck to you!

  1. Enjoyed your article. Your writing voice is gentle and refreshing. So nice not to feel aggression!

    1. Thank you so much, Juli. Your comment warms my heart. I write from my heart and always hope readers can distinguish my love for teaching without judgement.

  2. Do you know, if Agilease can be used for dogs? My Daschund had two ruptured discs that we had surgery on in October. Now, this morning, he lost all control of his hind legs and the surgeon thinks it is possibly another ruptured or slipped disc. We are treating it with mediations at this time, but I am a YL Distributor and am wondering about the Agilease. Thank you

    1. Hi Kathy. Thank you for commenting. I’m sorry to hear your pup is struggling. Yes, you can give him Agilease. I provide some to my dogs frequently. I would suggest talking with your vet first or having at least a phone consult with a holistic vet just in case, to discuss dosage and any contraindications. I do provide full dosage to my dogs, but they’re over 100 lbs. Best of luck to you!

  3. A concerned person just sent me your graphic about 30 oils to keep away from dogs and unfortunately some of it is not accurate. I wanted to let you know because it’s being used against those of us who teach about oils for pets for Young Living. I am an animal protection attorney who works with a lot of YL veterinarians. I teach for YL on oils for pets and I’ve written a book called The Oily Pet. When it comes to Young Living, our oils are safe for pets. Other brands in their entirety are toxic (even a “safe” oil like Lavender). YL Clove is not toxic to dogs because it’s in Thieves and is safely being used in veterinary clinics. Tea Tree is in the Animal Scents Oinment and Animal Scents PuriClean. Oregano is in the Animal Scents InfectAway. Anise and Juniper is in Animal Scents ParaGize. Rue and Hyssop in Animal Scents T-Away. So I wanted to let you know so that you can adjust your graphic. There’s so much misinformation online about oils for pets, a group of us are doing our best to make sure that the information is accurate and that the toxicity of other brands is not being related to Young Living. Thank you!

    1. Hi Allie, Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out. I totally agree with you about the toxicity in many other brands, which is why I wrote a post dedicated to finding quality essential oils. And you’re right, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. I love referring people to a few of our favorite animal reference guides because of that. I would like to share a different perspective for you to consider. Instead of assuming clove is safe because it is in Thieves, and Thieves is used with great results (my dogs included), consider that clove oil is safe because it is in Thieves… because the constituents we need to be careful of with dogs are diluted more in blends that are diluted than they are if using clove oil by itself. Tea Tree is in Animal Scents Ointment and PuriClean, which are safe to use because the Tea Tree constituents are more diluted than if using tea tree by itself. I personally take a more conservative view on using essential oils than most people who use Young Living products and share info based on what I find with my research. Both above and below the graphic I clearly state that my graphic for essential oils to avoid are for single oils only and may not apply to a blend. It is when those constituents may exceed over 40% that they become an issue. I’m always on the look out for new research and will update as I come across new information, as I always do. I wish you the best of luck with your mission helping animals with essential oils. What you’re doing is very much needed.

    2. Hi Allie, thank you for reading our article and commenting. I am not a vet, and do not give out medical advice, so I won’t be much help. I have found a lot of help with our animals sharing our natural health lifestyle. We use a holistic vet for everything we need, even when we are traveling, to help with our Newfoundland’s severe allergy and skin issues (they also do long distance phone consults). To find a good natural minded vet near you, I encourage you to search on the Holistic Vet Finder page: https://www.ahvma.org/find-a-holistic-veterinarian/. I hope that helps!

  4. Hi,
    Do you have any recommendations on which oils are okay to use on my pups paws? He licks and Chews his feet.

    1. Hi Leslie, I’m sorry to hear your pup is having difficulty with licking and chewing his paws. We have that issue a lot with my Newfie. I highly recommend talking with a holistic vet to find and treat the underlying cause. For us it was an allergy and anxiety issue. Diluting lavender essential oil and using the LavaDerm Spray really helped my Newfie while we were waiting to find and treat the underlying cause. I hope that helps! Best of luck to you and your pup.

  5. lemmens - de beir

    ik heb twee Yorkshire -Terriërs van 14 en 13 jaar en hun tanden zijn zo aan getast met kalk nu is mijn vraag wat is het best om dat op een natuurlijk wijzen wegen te krijgen want de dierenarts is bang als ze in slaap word gedaan dat ze niet meer wakker worden wat kan ik er aan doen en ook onze Casper van 14 jaar is ook zo zenuwachtig als hij met auto mee rijd vriendelijk groeten van Lemmens – de beir

    1. Hi Lemmens, thank you for your comment. I’d strongly suggest looking for a holistic vet in your area to help you. I’m not a medical professional, but I do most of the care for our dogs naturally at home using resources like the Animal Desk Reference. This book has many different options available. I’ll send you an email in a few minutes too, to make sure you receive it.

  6. Hi Nicole
    I rescued a very abused American Eskimo dog.

    When I took him to the Vet he that he had heartworms. Is there any kind of an essential oil I can use I this little guy? I want to know even for a short time that he was loved

    1. Hi Sue, thank you for commenting! I’m so thrilled to hear you’re loving a rescue! I would strongly suggest emotional supporting oils, like Valor and Peace and Calming… Lavender would be great for him, as would the Raindrop Technique, if you’re using Young Living. The Animal Desk Reference is super helpful too (the first version is Young Living specific, the second is not brand-affiliated). An animal chiropractor might be able to help keep him comfortable… I know mine LOVE seeing one.

  7. Hi Nicole!

    Thanks for creating this great website and all the great tips and useful information on essential oils, especially regarding dogs! Have you ever made dog treats using YL essential oils or supplement products? If so, do you any recipes that you would be willing to share? Thanks in advance and may you be blessed abundantly!

    1. Hi Aimee, I don’t currently have a dog treat recipe that I use essential oils in. I do make our own dog biscuits, often adding pumpkin to them. When we have some time, I’ll play with some recipes this fall after we move and see what they like and post here. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for updates!

  8. Animal Scents Ointment from Young Living contains Tea Tree oil. Tea Tree oil is not safe for dogs at any dilution. You didn’t mention it in your blog, but it is important that dog owners know not to use it on their dogs.

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