20 Best Essential Oils for Pets (+ Which Ones to Avoid)

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Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular for aromatherapy and household scenting. But in addition to their fragrant purposes, they’ve also been used in alternative health practices to help ease ailments like insomnia and depression. As humans use essential oils for alternative cures for non-life threatening ailments, we begin to wonder — are essential oils safe for pets? The answer is yes, with conditions. 

Skip down to the infographic or read on for our guide for using essential oils on pets, including which ones should be avoided. 

Pet-Safe Essential Oils

We’ve compiled a list of safe oils to use on pets below — but like any change to your animal’s care routine, we recommend checking with a vet before starting your furry friend on an essential oil regimen and always using a diluted oil. 

Note that birds and small animals should never be exposed to essential oils.

Lavender

Lavender is a fresh, floral and calm oil that is mainly used for relaxation in humans. It is similarly used in pets, and can be used to help quell car sickness or anxiety about being left alone or going to the veterinarian. 

Use for: anxiety about separation, car rides or veterinarian visits

Chamomile 

You know the calming effects of chamomile tea? Chamomile oil has a similar effect. Use this oil to help calm a stressed animal, whether it be during a party when strangers are invading their space or while socializing with new animals they don’t know. Chamomile is also an anti-inflammatory oil that can help with skin irritation.

Use for: anxiety, skin irritation 

Ginger

Ginger oil is taken from the ginger root, which is commonly used in Asian recipes. With a spicy and fragrant aroma, this oil is a great choice for aromatherapy. In pets, the oil can be used to help with an upset stomach and digestion. 

Use for: stomach issues, digestion, trouble breathing

Linden Blossom

Linden blossom oil is a sweet, floral oil that comes from linden blossoms. In pets, this oil can be used to instill a sense of peace and calm, as well as to alleviate anxiety. 

Use for: dogs that have experienced abuse, anxiety relief 

Myrrh

Myrrh oil is extracted from the myrrh tree, and has been used throughout history for medicinal  and religious purposes. In both humans and animals, this oil can help promote emotional balance. As a bonus for animals, this oil can also help calm irritated skin and promote alertness. 

Use for: animals experiencing shyness or anger 

Sweet Orange

Sweet orange oil is extracted from the rind of an orange and produces a cheerful, citrus scent. This oil can be diluted and applied to your pet’s skin to help with irritation and repel fleas, and can also be used to help ease allergies. This oil can also be used on pets as a deodorant. 

Use for: flea repellent, scent, allergies

Rose 

Rose is popularly used for pets in a variety of forms, including teas, vinegar and oils. Roses are popular for holistic pet care because they are full of polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant. Rose oils can be diffused in the home for a fresh scent that will also help anxious pets. 

Use for: separation anxiety, emotional balance 

Clary Sage

Different from typical sage, clary sage oil comes from the clary sage plant that is native to the Mediterranean basin. Clary sage oil is known for being a deeply relaxing oil that can be used to encourage emotional stability and calm in pets. 

Use for: panicked or hyperactive pets 

Marjoram

Typically a cooking additive, marjoram oil is typically used to add spice and flavor to recipes. When diffused, however, this oil is typically used to promote calm. In pets, this oil can be used to promote emotional balance during times of stress or hyperactivity. 

Use for: panicked or hyperactive pets 

Valerian Root

Valerian root oil is an earthy oil that promotes feelings of relaxation and can be used to aid restlessness. In pets, this oil can ease emotional distress, provide a sense of calm and promote restful sleep. 

Use for: restful sleep, shyness, anger, separation and noise anxiety

Cedarwood

Cedarwood oil is extracted from cedar trees, and is a popular earthy oil that can promote emotional balance and relaxation in both humans and pets. In addition to encouraging calm and peace in pets, it can also repel insects, reducing the risk of bites and promote skin health. 

Use for: healthy skin, relaxation

Cardamom

Similar to ginger, cardamom is typically used to spice and flavor cooking. When used in aromatherapy, it typically promotes respiratory and stomach health in humans. In pets, cardamom oil is typically used to soothe nausea and promote healthy eating. 

Use for: nausea, appetite

Frankincense

Frankincense is sometimes referred to as the king of oils for its many health and therapeutic benefits. Used in bladder cancer treatments for humans, this oil has also been reported to have the same effect on pets. In addition, frankincense can boost the immune system and a pet’s mood. 

Use for: immune system strength, positivity 

Fennel

Dating back to ancient Rome, fennel oil produces a unique fragrance and is commonly used in humans to promote digestive health. In pets, it is believed that fennel oil can promote pituitary and thyroid gland health. 

Use for: pituitary and thyroid gland health

Helichrysum

Helichrysum comes from the Greek “helios” meaning sun and “chrysos” meaning gold, and is so named for the color of the flowers that produce the oil. Though the oil produces a polarizing and intense scent, it is used in dogs to treat cuts and relieve pain. 

Use for: pain management, cut healing 

Geranium

Geraniums are a long-standing staple in the perfume industry. The oil they produce is similarly beautifying, and is used in humans for skin and hair health. In pets, this oil is commonly used to help treat ear infections and repel ticks. 

Use for: ear infections, tick repellent 

Violet Leaf

Violet leaf oil blends a floral aroma with earthy notes and has been used in humans to balance the mind and support circulatory health. In pets, this oil can help quell anxiety and is good for dogs with separation or vet anxiety. 

Use for: separation, vet anxiety 

Yarrow

Yarrow oil is extracted from the yarrow plant, which is most commonly found throughout Europe. In pets, this oil is used to ease a variety of ailments including urinary and eye infections, and anxiety. 

Use for: urinary and eye infections 

Sandalwood

Sandalwood trees are known for retaining their fragrance for decades, and are commonly used in the beauty and perfume industries. Much like yarrow, sandalwood can be used to help ease urinary and eye infection. However, sandalwood is also used to quell agitation in pets. 

Use for: urinary and eye infections, agitation

Lemon

Lemon is one of the most popular essential oils because of its versatility and pleasant, uplifting citrus scent. In dogs, lemon essential oil is used to help ease fungal skin and ear infections. 

Use for: skin and ear infections 

How to Administer Essential Oils to Pets

It is important to practice safety and caution when administering essential oils to pets. Be cognizant of your pet’s behavior and mood when you’re using essential oils and respond accordingly. Here are some of the ways you can safely administer oils to your pets. 

Oil Diffusers Are Safe For Pets 

Diffusing is a good way to administer oils to pets because it allows them to slowly acclimate to the scent. Drop essential oils into a store-bought or homemade diffuser and allow your pet to inhale the scent. Always monitor your pet’s behavior around the scent and allow them to leave the room if they don’t like it or aren’t responding to it well. 

Oils Can Be Applied Directly to Pets in Small Amounts 

Always consult a veterinarian before applying oils directly onto your pet, and be sure to dilute the oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba, coconut or olive oil. Do not apply an essential oil directly to a cut or wound. A general guide for how to dilute the essential oil is the following:

  • For cats and small dogs: 9:1 carrier oil to essential oil 
  • For medium-sized dogs: 4:1 carrier to essential oil
  • For large dogs: 3:1 carrier to essential oil
  • For large animals such as horses and cattle: begin with 1:1 carrier to essential oil 

Oils Should be Sparingly Fed to Pets

Always be sure to consult a veterinarian before feeding your pet an essential oil. A few drops of essential oil can be mixed in with your pet’s food, but keep in mind that the smell may make your pet disinterested in eating and should be done very minimally. 

Oils Can Be Mixed With Soap for Shampoo

You can make a simple pet shampoo by mixing 8 drops of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of castile soap and 1.5 cups of water. Shake the mixture together and apply to your pet while bathing. 

Which Essential Oils Are Toxic to Pets?

Some common essential oils have toxic effects on animals and should be avoided in your home, even when diluted.  

  1. Tea Tree
  2. Ylang Ylang
  3. Anise
  4. Birch
  5. Pennyroyal
  6. Pine
  7. Cinnamon
  8. Wintergreen
  9. Mustard
  10. Eucalyptus 

Signs of Essential Oil Poisoning in Pets

It is possible that your pet will have an adverse reaction to an essential oil, even if it is safe. Be aware of the signs of essential oil poisoning in pets. If your pet shows signs of poisoning, get the pet into fresh air and seek veterinarian help immediately. 

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Difficulty walking
  3. Drooling
  4. Vomiting
  5. Itching the mouth and face
  6. Muscle tremors
  7. Depression 
  8. Wobbliness
  9. Weakness
  10. Abnormal Behavior

Like any holistic or natural remedy, it’s important to exercise caution and take note of your pet’s reaction to essential oils. We’ve created this infographic to help you remember the basics.

When used correctly, essential oils can be a great, natural way to help ease several common ailments . Be sure to pay attention to your pet’s reaction to the scent of the oil, and their behavior once using it, to find a scent that works for you and your furry friend. 

For other ways to smell and feel good, check out the wide selection of scents available on FragranceX.

Sources: Wild Earth | My Animal Matters | Wag! | doTERRA | New Directions Aromatics | Embrace Pet Insurance | PetGuide | Whole Dog Journal | Dogs Naturally | Tufts 

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