top of page


You may have pondered about essential oils and animals if you use botanicals for your personal health and wellness. How might you treat your pets and animal companions using herbs or essential oils? Keeping our animal companions healthy is frequently a financial priority as well because veterinary visits are pricey. If you adhere to a few fairly straightforward rules, you can use essential oils safely with dogs.

We need to take into account how our animals are different from us in order to comprehend

how we might use essential oils with our pets and animal friends. The majority of creatures have fur, feathers, or scales, which is the first distinction. Essential oils may penetrate into the body more quickly through the skin when applied to hair, as opposed to when applied to human skin (Shelton, 2018.)

Animal senses are also incredibly diverse. Many of our dogs have incredibly refined senses of smell. Even if we cannot smell the essential oil we have just used, it may be overwhelming to our pets because some claim that a dog's olfactory sense is anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times as acute as ours is (Tyson, 2012). The best advice for utilizing aromatics with our animals is to bear in mind this and use essential oils sparingly. When using essential oils topically or inhalation, it may be preferable to dilute them first.

The rate and efficiency with which essential oils are broken down varies greatly among animals due to differences in their metabolic rates and liver enzymes. An animal may be able to withstand significantly higher amounts of an essential oil than a human in particular circumstances. The same animal, however, might only be able to take far lower doses of a different essential oil. As a result, it is impossible to draw precise and secure conclusions about the safety of animal essential oils from data on human essential oil safety. In Shelton's 2018

Several animals also engage in grooming routines that may involve ingesting essential oils that have been applied to their skin or fur. When selecting where, what, and how to utilize essential oils with animals, we must take this possibility into account even though accidental intake is rarely a problem for humans.

Prior to selecting a botanical support, it is just as crucial to be aware of the health history of the animal in question. The essential oils that a pet meets will interact with its physical

status, age, sex, background, emotional state, medications, and olfactory preferences, offering both suitable indicators and contraindications for using essential oils. Essential oils might not work well with certain animal species.

Exposures both passive and active

One must take into account both passive and active exposures to establish the minimum amount of essential oil that any individual must metabolize. All passive exposures must be taken into account because they all contribute to total doses. Pets that live outdoors pose less of a risk in this regard.

The first guideline for using essential oils safely on animals is to keep them out of places where they can unintentionally come into contact with the oil. Allowing pets to knock over open bottles or get essential oils on their paws or bodies is not a good idea. If a lot of people have access to the refrigerator, keep the essential oils in a refrigerator, preferably in a closed container, if you're storing them in a barn or another building that could get warm.

Exposure to Passive

Our pets are exposed to a variety of chemicals in their surroundings, including air fresheners, residue from cleaning supplies, food components dumped on the floor, and off-gassing from furniture. We can prevent our cherished dogs from suffering from these exposures by planning ahead and taking a few easy safeguards. Diffuser use, cleaning supplies, and personal care items are three primary ways that household pets are exposed to essential oils passively.

Maintain distributing light, both in terms of the amount of oil dispersed and the duration of the diffuser's operation. The likelihood of an essential oil diffuser irritating a pet is higher than that of a water-based diffuser.

Diffusers should not be placed in a location where pets could tip them over or cause a spill.

Make sure the pet has the option to leave the room where the diffuser is operating.

Even while we use a "green" approach to cleaning, this does not mean that all of the time our cleaning supplies are risk-free. Keep in mind that the terms "natural" and "safe" are not interchangeable.

Any surface that a pet might walk on should be thoroughly rinsed after using a cleaning product with essential oils. Attempt to keep the cat's feet from coming into contact with the essential oil.

When a carpet powder containing essential oils is applied to the carpet, keep pets out of the room. Even if the pets don't walk on the carpet, avoid using essential oils in the room until it has been well ventilated and the carpet has been vacuumed.

Never clean birdcages, aquariums, terrariums, or other small animal enclosures using essential oil cleaners.

Animals can consume other substances when they groom themselves in addition to essential oils. Before handling your pet, make sure to completely rub any lotion or other topical ointment into your hands or wash off any excess.

Keeping a pet from licking your hands after applying lotion is also recommended. While some animals may enjoy doing it, it does not necessarily make it healthy or safe for them.

Current Exposures

Anytime your pet comes into touch with an essential oil in a significant or deliberate dose, such as through the inhalation of an essential oil-infused cotton ball in a kennel or the direct application of an essential oil to an animal's skin, this is considered an active exposure to the oil (topical or cutaneous application). Be sure the animal cannot consume the cotton ball or any other source of essential oils. Although some people may be aware of acceptable ways to administer essential oils to animals internally, this subject is complicated and out of the scope of this article.

Like as with humans, breathing techniques are frequently the most effective method to utilize with animals going through emotional difficulties. This method may be effective for animals that experience anxiety when visiting the veterinarian or, as in the case of a pet rescue, animals that have serious emotional problems. As an illustration, if you frequently diffuse a certain blend in your home, you might consider diffusing the previous blend to aid your pet's transition to a new home.

Dr. Melissa Shelton invented the term "litteroma" to describe the use of essential oils in the litter box. Mixing the proper essential oils with baking soda and sprinkling it on or incorporating it into the litter is a simple method. It is a good idea to have two boxes available for the cat—one with the essential oil and one without—because you should keep in mind that a cat might avoid a litter box that smells strange. The cat's health may be the only purpose of the essential oil, which may just deodorize the litter box.

If your pet wears a collar, placing an essential oil drop on a detachable fabric strip and sewing it to the collar can work as an active dose of essential oil and a passive diffuser at the same time. Remember that your pet cannot escape this smell, therefore after applying the oil, keep a close eye on them. If the aroma becomes overwhelming or when the cloth strip is no longer required, it is simple to remove. Depending on the situation, it could either be attached outside a kennel or inside the pet's room. Be certain the animal can't ingest the material.

One method of directly putting essential oils on a pet is "petting." A tiny amount of the diluted essential oil blend should be placed in the palm of one hand, and the two hands

should be rubbed together until most of the oil is absorbed. Next, pet the creature. The dose is determined by how much oil is left on the hands before touching, therefore smaller, younger (or much older), or more delicate animals should receive less of the mixture. Adult animals that are bigger and typically in better health, such dogs and horses, may benefit from a greater treatment or dose.

Lower dilutions do not always imply higher dosages. Bigger animals frequently still require extremely high dilutions, like 0.5-2%, but a larger quantity of the mixture would represent a higher dose.

Pets, especially those with injuries, can benefit greatly from the use of compresses, which are specifically effective with hydrosols, and bath applications.

Cautionary Notes and Negative Effects

People on the internet usually suggest two unpleasant methods: "ear tipping" and rubbing aromatic oils to a pet's paws. Both procedures are not recommended since they have high hazards relative to their advantages. Using essential oils directly to a pet's mucous membranes or into any orifice is not advised, just like with people (eyes, ears, nose, etc.). Avoid applying them neatly (without dilution). Avoid using neat oils for applications like "Raindrop Therapy," which has more hazards than advantages. But, in rare cases, utilizing similar methods with adequately diluted oils may be beneficial.

The most crucial general rule is: If in doubt, stay away.

Here are some indications that the essential oil may be harming your pet:


rubbing one's face on a carpet or the floor

coughing or breathing issues

Cry, complain, and pant



walking awkwardly

muscle tremors and weakness

Sores or rashes





Both people and animals may experience phototoxic reactions from some essential oils. When choosing phototoxic oils to apply topically, exercise caution.

safer carriers with essential oils

Some of the essential oils that we might regard as either acceptable (wintergreen) or safe (tea tree) for humans could not be suitable for animals. It is usually ideal to become an expert with a few essential oils first, then expand your toolkit as you gain more knowledge. Always thoroughly investigate new essential oils' potential impacts on the animal you are treating before using them.

The majority of pets, particularly dogs and many farm animals, are thought to be reasonably safe with the following essential oils:

German chamomile, Matricaria recutita (blue chamomile).

Camelback, Roman (Chamaemelum nobile)

Crystal Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) (Cupressus sempervirens)

Copaiba and balm (Copaifera officinalis)

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) (Boswellia carterii)

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) (Zingiber officinale)

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) (Helichrysum italicum)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia syn. Lavandula officinalis) (Lavandula angustifolia syn. Lavandula officinalis)

Lemon (Citrus limon) (Citrus limon)

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) (Cymbopogon flexuosus)

savoury marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Chinese, Red (Citrus reticulata)

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) (Commiphora myrrha)

bright orange (Citrus sinensis)

roasted pepper (Piper nigrum)

Santalum species (sandalwood) (Select a sustainable source)

White spruce (Picea mariana)

Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang) (Azzaro, n.d.; Shelton, 2018).

Double-check your essential oil selection taking into account your pet's species, any additional health issues they may be facing, and any medications they may be on.

Pet owners should use the following carriers (being especially cautious in areas where an animal might lick):

Aloe barbadensis, or aloe vera, gel (avoid use with cats or on areas a pet may lick)

Cherry Kernel Oil (Prunus armenicaca)

oil of castor (Ricinus communis)

Coconut (Cocos nucifera) (Cocos nucifera)

Olive (Olea europaea) (Olea europaea)

seed of sesame (Sesamum indicum)

Herbal butter (Vitallaria paradoxa syn. Butyrospermum parkii)

Tamanu (Calopohyllum inophyllum) (Calopohyllum inophyllum)

plant-based clays (black rock, green clay, pink kaolin, red clay, white kaolin, bentonite, rhassoul)

ACV, apple cider

a cast-iron soap

a ring of dry herbs encircled a variety of dark glass bottles

Useful Resources

Use a massage therapist-style belt to hold your essential oil blends and any other instruments you might need, such as dropper bottles (for temporary usage; not for blend storage), spray bottles, lotion bottles, etc. This frees up your hands so that you can handle the pet and the bottles more easily while also protecting them from the pet grasping or knocking them over.

Pure essential oils should be stored in colorful glass containers, however these can shatter if thrown on a barn or kennel's concrete floor. Containers made of PET plastic are useful for

transporting diluted mixtures for use with animals directly. Before leaving a stall or kennel area, count all bottles to make sure no bottles are left behind.

Twist caps that are child-safe assist prevent bottle opening by cunning animals. To ensure that hardly any essential oil will leak out of a bottle even if it is opened and spills, make sure that all essential oil bottles also include orifice reducers.


When treating our dogs, hydrosols are a great and extremely safe substitute for essential oils. They are a safer alternative for the majority of pets, even our cats and extremely young or small animals, because they are very diluted and water-based. Certain hydrosols, including calendula (Calendula officinalis) and plantain (Plantago major), do not exist as essential oils, and not all essential oils have equal hydrosols.

When applying compresses and treating particularly sensitive areas, such as inflamed skin, sunburn, or small wounds, hydrosols are simpler to employ than essential oils. Moreover, hydrosols can be turned into ice cubes to provide cold therapies an extra boost.

You don't have to be concerned with the same safety issues while using a hydrosol in the diffuser for an air freshener, bedding freshener, personal spray, or other general uses. Although hydrosols won't always work (for example, to freshen cat litter), they are a reliable, secure substitute when using essential oils on animals.


Without including zoopharmacognosy, or animals choosing plants for self-medication, a discussion of essential oils for animals would fall short. Some people are fervent believers

that an animal should always have the final say in whatever botanical uses it may have. The use of an essential oil or approach that the animal may not have chosen for itself in an emergency scenario may be necessary, even if animals occasionally make intelligent decisions and may show a preference for one calming essential oil over another. But, utilizing a preferred essential oil will increase pet cooperation and make the process simpler.

Use the same precautions when using essential oils on dogs as you would when using them on children. Utilize only genuine essential oils and hydrosols purchased from a reputable supplier. Employ the relevant hydrosol or user-friendly, well-known essential oils in modest doses and high dilutions. Use smaller doses more frequently for treating a long-term condition like arthritis rather than bigger ones. Think about how your pet's varied metabolism and sense of smell may affect how well it tolerates an essential oil. Essential oil home care cannot take the place of a veterinarian's expertise. Use of essential oils and hydrosols with animals may be pleasurable and secure with the right information and planning.

4 views0 comments


bottom of page