Essential Oils and Pets: Your Essential Overview and How to Use

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Paw Balm from Plant Therapy

Essential Oils and Pets

Essential oils can promote feelings of peace and calm for humans, creating a pleasant atmosphere in our homes and workplaces. But many wonder if we can provide the same type of feelings to our furry friends. Fortunately, some essential oils are safe for pets and can help alleviate common problems like odors and insects as well as encourage relaxation.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

Woman holding up her pet dogYes and no. There are dozens of essential oils that are safe for pets that you can use, but others are toxic to different animals so it’s important to educate yourself on which essential oils can be used for your pets. Although there are safe essential oils for pets, you should never intentionally let your animals ingest these oils or apply directly to their skin undiluted. A few essential oils can be applied topically to horses or dogs, but must always be diluted first with carrier oils before application. Essential oils can be diffused in a room to allow you and your pets to experience the benefits. Because animals have a heightened sense of smell, you must dilute the oils before using them for your pets.

Essential Oils Uses for Pets

Pup & Pony Collection from Plant TherapyThough our pets are friendly companions that share our home, explore the outdoors with us and cuddle on the couch at night, there are some downsides to owning pets. Dog and cat owners often complain about animal odors that may linger around the house as a result of owning an animal. Like humans, all dogs possess their own specific scent as a result of sweating from their paws, light perspiration from their hair follicles and other normal body smells. Regularly bathing your dog can help to reduce the odor, but this smell often clings to areas of the house like the couch and carpet.

Essential oils can help diminish this unpleasant scent and create a refreshing, welcoming smell throughout your home. The best way to incorporate essential oils and pets into your home for this purpose is by first identifying areas of your living space where you notice animal odor to be particularly noticeable. Then, incorporate essential oil diffusers near these areas and fill with oils that are approved to be used around dogs.

The beauty of using an essential oil diffuser is that you can create your own blends for a unique smell. Follow Plant Therapy’s Pup & Pony diffusion guidelines to determine the amount of oil to use and how long to diffuse. Generally, we recommend allowing the scent to spread throughout the room for about 10 to 15 minutes every few hours.

Aside from removing pet odors, essential oils can be used to repel or eliminate pests as well as stimulate feelings of tranquility. When it comes to essential oils and pets, dogs and horses are the two most common animals that oils are used with. It is not recommended to use essential oils with or around cats, birds, reptiles or rodents.

Common Pet Issues

Woman using Pup & Pony blend with her dogAs mentioned, animal odor is one of the most common pet issues that owners use essential oils to overcome. However, fleas and other bug problems can sometimes be managed with essential oils. Other common problems that pet owners experience include uncontrolled urination, nervousness or skittish behavior and muscle spasms or stiffness in horses. Not all animals have adverse reactions to the same oils, so before using essential oils on pets, you should be sure to familiarize yourself with oils safe for that specific species and common uses for each.

Essential Oils for Dogs

Woman with puppy by the waterDog owners tend to have a very special connection with their pet, bringing their canine friend along with them on vacation, to the beach or just for a car ride. Because we are often so close to our animals, we may forget that their bodies do not necessarily respond to things in the same way that we do. Essential oils have a myriad of uses for humans and can be used topically or through diffusion, but dogs are very different.

Should you decide to try using these oils for dogs, be aware that essential oils are potentially toxic to canines: Tea Tree, Sweet Birch, Cinnamon, Garlic, Thyme, Clove, Juniper and Yarrow. Still, toxicity is not limited to these oils. If your dog has a diagnosed medical condition or takes medications, please speak with a veterinarian before trying these oils for the first time.

Essential Oils and Common Dog Issues

pup & pony essential oils for dogsBefore using essential oils with pets, please keep in mind that an animal’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours so some essential oils scents can be overpowering and irritating. For this reason, you absolutely must dilute your oils before exposing your pets to them. Inhaling an essential oil’s fragrance is typically all an animal needs for the oil to produce a result, so do not let your animal intentionally ingest these oils and do not apply them topically undiluted. Our Paw Pal Diffuser is a perfect way to passively diffuse oils around your pet.

Essential oils that are safe for dogs can help with a variety of issues such as dog odor throughout your house and car, indoor urination and insect problems. Using a diffuser inside near areas where animal odor is strong will help reduce the smell. Eucalyptus oil can help eliminate the smell of urine. As for insects, there are many essential oil blends that people use to repel insects, though these blends do not kill insects. These blends are best used in tandem with a medical solution from your vet.

Essential Oils and Common Dog Conditions

While essential oils can be used for odor-related problems, there are some additional common conditions that dogs experience which may be improved through the use of essential oils. Many dogs experience feelings of nervousness or tension when traveling, during thunderstorms or when interacting with other dogs. If you have a rescue dog, he or she may be more prone to these feelings because of negative past experiences with other owners.

Lavender and Chamomile are two essential oils safe for dogs that are highly praised for the ability to promote a calm state of mind. Blend these two oils together and dilute or try using them separately and let your dog have a few sniffs before a long trip to help them feel calmer and more relaxed. Don’t ever force essential oils. Allow your dog to get closer and smell the blend if they’re interested.

Using Specific Essential Oils with Dogs

plant therapy pup & pony paw pal diffuserLavender 

One of the most commonly used essential oils, lavender is safe for dogs and can offer a plethora of benefits. Lavender can help with animal odor and work as an insect repellent. Lavender essential oil is also known to promote a sense of peace and security in both humans and dogs. Our Show Ready essential oil blend, which contains lavender oil, was created specifically to support good health in dogs and horses, especially when traveling.


Chamomile promotes similar effects as lavender when used around dogs. Some people suggest mixing Chamomile and Lavender with aloe vera jelly, dog-safe soap and other safe essential oils to create a homemade dog shampoo that will keep your canine smelling good and free of dirt. Chamomile is also known to lessen the effects of minor skin irritation and encourages a healthy-looking coat.


Spearmint oil is a common essential oil used to deter insects and can help to support a healthy digestive system. Though some people suggest avoiding spearmint with dogs, it is safe for canines as long as it has been properly diluted and only used in very small doses.


Eucalyptus oil has a long list of uses for dogs–from bug repellent and deodorizer to reducing the effects of some skin irritations and promoting a nice coat.


Rosemary oil is often used in blends created to discourage fleas and other insects. For these types of repellents, you should not directly apply oils to your dog’s fur. Instead, dilute and blend oils to create soap or shampoo that can be used to keep your dog clean and pest-free.

Essential Oils for Horses

Pup & Pony blend to use for horsesAlthough horses are much larger animals than dogs, they are still sensitive to particular essential oils. You should be well aware of which essential oils are safe with horses and which to avoid. Many horse owners tell of the benefits they’ve seen with using essential oils for horses–from a heightened sense of security and calm to diminished effects of skin irritation. However, you still need to properly dilute the solution before using it in any manner.

Essential Oils and Common Horse Issues

Woman grooming her horse in a stableHorses can also possess an animal odor much like your dog or cat, but this is usually not as big of an issue for horse owners because their animal is not a household pet. Instead, essential oils are usually used to discourage insects from bothering horses and soothe the effects of minor skin irritations.

Because horses are large and powerful animals that are often used as a mode of transportation, they will experience issues later in life such as muscle tension and joint stiffness. Using essential oils with your horse may help ease some of this tension.

Essential Oils and Common Horse Conditions

Much like dogs–and humans–horses can experience feelings of nervousness or restlessness, which can also cause problems with sleep. Many essential oils safe for horses possess relaxing properties that can promote feelings of calm and fight occasional nervous tensions. Our Horse Whisperer essential oil blend was formulated to support horses through emotional distress and promote general ease. Horses also tend to experience issues with their hooves throughout their lives and using essential oils in this area may reduce discomfort.

Using Specific Essential Oils with Horses

Pup & Pony Collection from Plant TherapyLavender: Because lavender is such a popular essential oil, it should be mentioned again as a reminder that this oil is safe for horses and can encourage feelings of relaxation. Horses can become easily startled by a new person or experience that is not part of their everyday routine, so using lavender in these instances may ease their experience.

Clary Sage

Using clary sage with horses can be helpful to lessen feelings of tension and soreness, which horses often experience because of their regular physical activity.


Bergamot can promote feelings of calm in horses as well as lessen the effects of minor skin irritations.

Essential Oils and Horses that Compete

Essential oils can benefit the health of horses when used responsibilyMany horse owners compete with their animals in horse shows. These large and beautiful animals require regular physical activity because they are designed to be athletic creatures. However, strenuous activities like horse shows can put a strain on horses over time, leading to aches and pains. Many people who compete with horses will use essential oils to reduce nervous tensions, lessen muscle aches and promote feelings of relaxation. Our Show Ready blend is perfect to use when traveling for these stressful competitions.

Essential Oils and Pet Safety

Paw Balm from Plant TherapyEssential oils can be safe for your pets if used properly. If you’re interested in trying aromatherapy for animals, please talk to your vet beforehand to ensure that you are not exposing your pets to toxic oils and study up on proper handling methods. 

Want to learn more?

Check out this interview with Emilee Hughes, the Aromatherapist behind our Pup&Pony line!

here to listen…


78 thoughts on “Essential Oils and Pets”

    1. Carla, hydrosols are great options for dogs! However, we do not recommend hydrosols for cats at this time due to conflicting safety information. I recommend reaching out to your pet’s veterinarian to discuss any concerns they would have.

  • We just got regular lavender and Patchouli from plant therapy, not pup pony. Is this still ok to diffuse with my dog.

    1. Yes, both those oils are Pup & Pony approved. You can find a full list of all the singles and blends that are safe to use around your pup here.

  • We recently purchased small animals (hamster and guinea pig). Are these oils considered safe to use in their laundry?

    1. With such small animals, we recommend that you don’t use essential oils near them or in their laundry.

  • Can I diffuse maple leaf, cinnamon bark,lemon cupcake, defender, germ destroyer, or toy soldier around my puppy? He is 3 1/2 months old my house has high ceilings and many rooms but i have not diffused since we got him 3 weeks ago. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Carmen, from that list, Defender is the only one that is Pup & Pony approved. You can find the full list of oils that are safe to diffuse around your puppy here. Another option is for you to use a diffuser in rooms where your dog is not allowed or to use a personal inhaler.

  • Hi Plant Therapy! I downloaded the chart at the top of the blog post, and I just wanted to be sure I understand it. All of the individual oils and blends listed there are safe to diffuse around dogs? I have not diffused anything since I got my rescue dog in March of this year – and I desperately miss my relax blend at night!! Are you saying it’s safe to diffuse around my dog?! Cause if so I’m gonna cry and send you big hugs! I’ve been so worried to harm her that I’ve just forgone diffusing, but I miss it terribly! If I can diffuse it, I have your diffuser – is 7 or so drops in the water okay? Thanks!!!!

    1. Yep, all the oils on the list are safe to use around your pup! So you can bring back your Relax blend. It’s still a good idea to start slow when you diffuse again just to make sure your dog doesn’t have an aversion to a certain blend as their sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours. Try using 1-2 drops per 100 mL of water on an intermittent setting.

  • I would love to make a shampoo for my fur baby and see if it helps with her minor skin issues. Is liquid castille soap an approved base? Also, I didn’t see anything about dilution…what percentage is recommended?

    1. Liquid Castille soap can be used with dogs although it is slightly high on the pH scale with an upwards range of 8.9. Dogs have a pH of between 6.5-7.5. You can include additional botanicals in your DIY shampoo to adjust this range. Hydrosols, glycerin, and aloe vera jelly are all great choices. Please refer to our Pup & Pony dilution chart for dilution recommendations that are specific to your dog’s weight.

  • THANK YOU!!! I came to see if there was information on oils I could use for an allergy cold I have that would be safe for my dog! Now I’m off to read about diffusing with a dog…

  • Thank you, we are pet sitting and I needed to get a quick reference about essential oil safety around dogs.

  • Thank you for all this great information. I will be giving my dog a bath with lavender this afternoon. Hopefully she will smell pretty and help calm her and her skin.

  • This was such an informative post! As an owner of an elderly dog who sometimes gets confused, it’s nice to know there are natural options to calm her.

  • We bought this set for our little dog who gets stressed when we are gone. I’m so happy PT has a pet line now. The clasp on the collar diffuser doesn’t stay closed very well so take it off when your dog goes outside or buy a lot of the refills.

  • Great post. I learned a lot. But it doesn’t mention cats. I realize there is great controversy over whether it is safe for cats or not. Anyway, thanks for writing this post.

  • This is great but I wish there was one for cats. I have 5 cats and would like to know some oils that are good and bad for them.

    1. Unfortunately, cats lack an enzyme that allows them to break down essential oils, which means oils can be toxic for cats. Please check out this post for more details.

  • Thanks pt for this amazing info! My mother just bought a diffuser and asked me to make some blends for her. Now I know how to do this savely. I will also print the save list for her to keep close by

  • I love that PT thinks of our furry friends and created oils specifically for them! I definitely need to get my pup a blend to diffuse for her while we hit the beach all day.

  • I received the confident K9 essential oil and brought it to my dog class to diffuse. Not sure if it calmed the dogs or not- would need to diffuse it during more classes to see. But, unfortunately, my husband and employee has banned the oil at work (dogs come to work)- they cant stand the smell. 🙁

    1. I’m sorry to hear this Teale! Keep trying, sometimes it’s important to give your animal time to adjust to the scents and create that positive association. As for the smell…every human, like every animal, is going to respond to essential oil scents differently. Different strokes for different folks!

    2. I noticed that K9 had contraindications listed on the product page. I guess it would be similar to diffusing at work or in a classroom.

  • Thank you for such helpful information about oils and our four legged friends! This is all great to know as we have a dog and mdiffuse in our home.

  • I am so excited to try the Pup & Pony line! My oils will hopefully arrive this week. Thank you for creating a safe line of products for our fur kids Plant Therapy!

  • After waking up to a hail storm and two terrified pups this weekend I jumped in and bought them their own oils. So excited to have something I know is safe for them and that takes the guess work out of everything. The next storm I won’t have to waste time googling which oils are safe.

  • Awesome information! Thank you PT. We have a little dog at home and was not so sure what is safe and what is not. So I usualky use oils topically and don’t diffuse near the dog. Now I know which oils I can use around him.

  • I just love the great information about the EO’s for your pets, now i can share this information with my daughter who is a dog lover. Thanks PT

  • My mom has three dogs… Might have to get pup and pony for her! And definitely forwarding this article so she understands how to use aromatherapy with animals safely. Thanks PT for all the good info 🙂

  • Thank you for this info. I’ll have the lavender and chamomile ready in hopes they help calm my dog when the fireworks start in July.

  • I love the ideas to help animals calm. What a better alternative if people aren’t wanting to medicate their dogs that have may anxiety.

  • Plant therapy is the best oils of all. I am so glad that you have got EOs for our fur babies. I do have a question about the EO for paws. What if anything will happen if and when they lick their paws? Is is dangerous for them to lick their paws when putting the balm on,them? I am very concerned about that and the reason I have purchased yet. let me know. Mine is 14yrs, a toy poodle and 6 lbs. need to know that it will be safe for her.
    Thank you plant therapy for all your great advise, blogs and the wonderful products you provide.

    1. Hi Kim! It is safe for them to lick their paws! Though we don’t recommend animals ingest these products, we formulated these products with doggos in mind and the dilution rates in all our Pup & Pony products are safe if they accidentally lick themselves.

  • I am very proud to support PT and their commitment to expanding to other oil usage categories. This article included a lot of really good information and as always focused on safety. While I don’t have pets I do get a lot of questions from others on pet usage and happy that PT has presented me good information.

  • This article is very informative – thank you! My favorite way to use oils related to my dogs and cats is to add lavender oil to basic cheap table salt and sprinkle on area rugs, let it sit for an hour then vacuum. Works great to manage fleas.

  • Can you please post the guidelines for essential oils and there safety for Cats, I am a Cat Mom. Thanks!

  • So excited that my pups have their own oils. Love knowing that it’s safe for them!

  • As everyone else I MUST Say thank you so much for giving us this amazing information & safety for our four legged loved ones!
    It means so much to us how much the company cares about kid safety & four legged kid safety. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts

  • Thank you for all the info. My dogs love lavender and frankincense 🙂
    Can’t wait to try Paw Balm!

  • Glad to know some of my favorites are safe around my dogs as well as which ones to avoid! I had been previously avoiding eos around them entirely.

  • I’m excited to make a shampoo for fleas. I was wondering how to use eos for fleas on my dog.!

  • Great article, have used essential oils on my dog before mainly lavender for skin issues and it works amazingly well. Don’t have a pet currently (my dog passed away) but look forward to when I can try your new blends.

  • I always wonder about birds! I have a love bird and parakeet! I know they are extra sensitive when it comes to smells and fumes! Are any oils safe to use around them? I add drops of eucalyptus To my dogs bed, it in a different room, would that be safe around the bird?

  • It’s great that PT now not only has KidSafe oils, but pet-safe oils as well. Took the guesswork out for us, pet owners. Thanks PT!

  • I am so excited to have this info now! It is nice to know what oils are safe and what I should avoid.

  • I love using essential oils on my dog and she does too! She recently had a sore on her paw and the vet gave me the ok to use a mix of Frankincense and Lavendar oils on it to prevent infection and help it heal. Within a week her sore was gone!

  • I am so happy you guys are now able to sell us and give us advice for our fur babies. Thank you Plant Therapy

  • This is great information to know! Thank you Plant Therapy! I have a dog myself so it’s important for me to remember safety for him as well!

  • I have 3 dogs that are more like children to me. I’m so excited to be able to learn more about using EO’s on and around them. Especially from a responsible company like PT. Thank you!

  • I am so excited this information is available! My parent’s dog suffers from separation anxiety, and I’m looking forward to trying some oils with her!

  • I’m so happy you now have aromatherapist for pups. I have a small pup who has never been able to ride in a car without getting sick unless she has lavender to calm her. I’m looking forward to using different eo’s in her future.

  • Thank you for the information. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for animals and aromatherapy!

  • I am so grateful that you finally have aromatherapists certified in animal aromatherapy. Just another way this excellent company goes above and beyond in their service to their customers.

  • Do you have to worry about rotating these or sensitization like you do for people? Can you use the calming blend daily or do you need to rotate it out?

    1. Just as with humans, we would recommend avoiding the overuse of essential oils with your pets. This means that we wouldn’t recommend the daily use of essential oils for indefinite periods of time.

      If you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to reach back out by emailing [email protected]. Your email will be forwarded to aromatherapists who have been trained in animal aromatherapy.

  • I am thrilled to have some info on eos and dogs! makes me a little less nervous to use them.

  • I love using lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary to help keep the fleas, ticks, and bugs off my furbaby!

  • Thank you for taking the time to learn about safe essential oil use with our furry friends, and subsequently sharing this info with us!

  • I love this post! I was so excited to see the new pup & pony line. I just ordered chamomile to make my own dog shampoo and have recently switched over to an all natural flea & tick preventative. Such a good feeling!

  • Lavender is perfect to rub behind the ears of your pooches to calm them around company and loud noises.

  • Thrilled to have oil blends specifically designed for my pets. Thank you PT for the pup and pony line. Am excited to try it.

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