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How to Use Essential Oils for Pets

| Updated September 26, 2017

Essential oils can help your dog in many ways -- healing wounds, relieving skin irritations and calming stress, to name a few. But they can also be harmful when they're used incorrectly or the wrong essence is chosen. Research the essential oil and your dog's needs before you use it.

Multiple Applications

Essential oils contain powerful concentrated biological compounds derived from plants. These essences can be used almost as many ways as there are oils. Dilute one in a spray bottle to repel insects or calm a dog with storm fears; dab on irritated skin to ease itching, or try aromatherapy to help build immunity. Essential oils are used for everything from behavior modification to easing physical illness.


  • Before you treat your dog with essential oil, consult your veterinarian or a specialist in holistic medicine.

Application Methods

Essential oils require dilution before they can be safely used. Quality essential oils are not oily at all, but they should be diluted using a carrier such as olive, jojoba or almond oil at a rate of 8 to 10 drops drops per half-ounce of carrier oil.

Topical Application

Apply a diluted essential oil directly to the dog's skin with a cotton swab when treating skin irritations, surface wounds or fungal infections. The oils can also be diluted with water and applied with a spray bottle to mist the area. Dilute 3 drops of oil directly in water in a 16-ounce spray bottle and shake well. Avoid making your mixture too strong -- remember, your dog's sense of smell is much stronger than yours. Most oils can be used several times a day, but consult your vet or holistic practitioner for specific instructions.

Diffusing Oils

A diffuser for aromatherapy helps relax or calm a nervous dog. A diffuser evaporates the essential oil, allowing your dog to inhale it. Run a diffuser for 30 to 40 minutes a day for a maximum of five to seven days.


Some essential oils can be mixed in canine shampoos or conditioners for therapeutic skin treatment. Consult your vet or holistic practitioner for specific instructions.


  • Don't administer essential oils orally to a dog unless you are directed to use a specific treatment by a veterinarian.

    Never use essential oil near the eyes, mouth, nose or genital area.

    Cats are sensitive to most essential oils, and some can be toxic to them. Avoid their use around felines.

Importance of Quality

When you're buying essential oils for your pet, quality is the most important consideration. Quality essential oils are therapeutic, 100 percent pure, bottled in amber, cobalt or violet glass bottles. The label should indicate how the oil was extracted, the method of cultivation and the country of origin, as well as the scientific name of the oil. Lesser-quality oils are not as effective and may contain additives.

Dangerous Oils

Essential oils that should not be used for dogs include anise, camphor, clove, thyme, wintergreen, birch, juniper, mustard, pennyroyal, rue and wormwood. Tea tree oil is widely recommended for various uses but can be dangerous, or even toxic, to dogs if used incorrectly.


  • Essential oils that are safe for dogs when correctly diluted include lavender, chamomile, sage, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger and peppermint.