Which Essential Oils are Not Safe for Dogs? Essential Oils that Can Be Toxic to Dogs

Finding out which essential oils are not safe for dogs is tough. 

I have a dog named Trick, and my love for essential oils doesn’t tower over my desire for my dog to survive! So I had to figure this out. 

Once I began my research, I ran into a ton of contradictory claims from various websites. I’m not about to take a risk and put my dog in danger, so I sought out the top 5 worst essential oils for dogs and compiled a list that I can reasonably rely on.

Click here to see our top 5 best and worst essential oils for dogs. 

Research vs the Truth

The most important finding I learned from both my research and from my dog is that every dog is different. Think of how you might be allergic to a certain food while others chow down on that same food like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe you’re allergic to cats while your best friend cuddles with their cat day and night.

We have to remember that dogs can be just as different.

This means taking responsibility and carefully observing our dogs whenever we diffuse an essential oil. Get to know your dog’s sensitivities well by paying attention to their behavioral patterns. This will empower you to catch behaviors that are unusual.

You might ask yourself: Why should I be careful with essential oils around my dog? Essential oils are all-natural anyway, aren’t they? This brings us to the first point.

Your Dog’s Sense of Smell is Insane

Trick's Nose

You’ve probably heard that dogs have a powerful sense of smell, but did you know how powerful? Think 10,000 to 100,000 times more than our own. In fact, dogs have been reliably used to sniff out narcotics, weapons, and even cancer.

That’s a lot stronger than we can understand as human beings.

James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University came to a shocking estimate to help us understand how powerful it really is.

According to Walker, “If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well.”

While we humans possess up to six million olfactory receptors, dogs possess up to 300 million.

Beyond that, the part of a dog’s brain that analyzes smells is up to 40 times (proportionally) greater than ours. Although there is no way to know with certainty how well a dog can smell, and the debate on how well they can smell is still out, I prefer to stay on the safe side to avoid irritating my dog.

Note: This article is only about diffusing essential oils as there are not enough conclusive studies to recommend applying essential oils to your dog. Consult a professional in the field such as a veterinarian or a clinical aromatherapist specializing in animals before using essential oils for any pet.

The Least Safe Essential Oils for Dogs

Essential oils that are not safe for dogs

Throughout my research, I noticed that certain oils were repeatedly mentioned as toxic for dogs. I combed through them all and came up with a list of essential oils that seem to be consistently mentioned as being toxic to dogs.

The following are essential oils that are most likely not safe for dogs. 

Peppermint Essential Oil

This one is from personal experience. The debate seems to be out on whether Peppermint Essential Oil is good for dogs or not, but I tested it around Trick. I was only diffusing a few drops for about a minute before Trick started sneezing. When I sneeze, at best I’m uncomfortable, and at worst, I’m suffering. So this one is a no-no for Trick, and much of my research confirms that it is toxic for dogs.   

Cinnamon Essential Oil

The debate is out on Cinnamon Essential Oil’s effect on dogs as well. However, according to Pet Poison Helpline, “It takes a larger amount of ingested cinnamon powder to cause problems in our pets (greater than 1 teaspoon of powder for most pets) but only a small amount of the essential oil.” Based on that tidbit, I believe Cinnamon Essential Oil has the potential to be dangerous for dogs.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

The very chemicals that make Tea Tree Essential Oil so effective against bacteria and fungi (terpenes) are the same chemicals that make it toxic to dogs. While most research is around the topical application of Tea Tree, I prefer to keep anything that might be toxic for dogs away from Trick.

Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme Essential Oil is a tricky one. Some sources suggest diffusing it around your dog to help those with respiratory problems. However, several other sources suggest that it may be toxic for dogs. As usual, use caution, and pay attention to your dog with this essential oil.

Clove Essential Oil

There are plenty of anecdotes out there that condone the safe use of Clove Essential Oil around dogs. However, according to aromatherapist and author, Kristen Leigh Bell, “the phenylpropane eugenol in clove can burn a pet’s skin.” This leads me to believe that it may also be toxic for dogs to inhale. There’s no sure answer, but I prefer not to take the risk.

Trick in the living room

My boy, Trick ^^

Final Thoughts

The use of essential oils for pets is a controversial topic. Not even the experts can come to a solid agreement. However, you don’t have to sacrifice your love for essential oils for your dog; you just have to be selective and pay very close attention to your dog when you use essential oils. Diffusing certain essential oils around your dog might be beneficial for them. Simply use caution, and always consult a professional veterinarian or aromatherapist specializing in animals before using essential oils around your dog.  

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