Essential Oils for Dogs and Cats: A Comprehensive Guide to Safety

essential oils safe to diffuse around dogs

What essential oils are safe, and which ones are toxic for dogs + cats?


Essential oils have gained significant popularity for their therapeutic benefits and natural healing properties. Many pet owners are now considering using essential oils for their furry companions. However, it's essential to understand the safety guidelines and potential benefits when using essential oils for pets, including dogs and cats. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the safe use of essential oils for pets, discuss the potential benefits, and highlight precautionary measures to ensure the well-being of your beloved pets.

Understanding Essential Oils for Pets

The Sensitivity of Pets to Essential Oils

Pets, such as dogs and cats, have a highly developed sense of smell compared to humans. Their olfactory systems are far more sensitive, with dogs having up to 100 million nose-nerves compared to the 6 million in humans. This heightened sense of smell makes it crucial to use essential oils with caution around pets.

Potential Benefits of Essential Oils for Pets

Just as essential oils offer various health benefits for humans, they can also provide therapeutic effects for pets. Some of the potential benefits include anxiety relief, calming effects, immune system support, and soothing aches and pains. It's important to note that each pet may react differently to essential oils, so careful observation is necessary.

Safe Use of Essential Oils for Pets

General Guidelines for Dilution

Dilution is key when using essential oils for pets. Undiluted oils are too strong and can cause skin irritation or digestive issues if ingested. A general guideline for dilution is four to five drops of one to three essential oils per 10 mL of carrier oil. This dilution ratio ensures that the oils are safe for topical application.

Topical Use of Essential Oils

When using essential oils topically on pets, it is crucial to dilute them properly. Never apply undiluted essential oils directly on your pet's skin. Instead, mix the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil, before applying it to your pet. This helps prevent skin irritation and ensures the oils are safe for your pet's well-being.

Precautions and Safety Measures

To ensure the safety of your pets, it's important to follow these precautions and safety measures:

  • Know Your Pet's Health Status: Before using essential oils on your pet, understand their overall health condition. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions.
  • Avoid Contact with Sensitive Areas: Essential oils should never be applied near the eyes, ears, nose, or genitals of your pet. These areas are sensitive and can be easily irritated.
  • Use a Water Diffuser for Aromatic Use: When using essential oils aromatically around pets, it is recommended to use a water diffuser. This allows the oils to disperse in a diluted form, making it safer for your pets to inhale.
  • Caution with Pregnant, Nursing, or Young Pets: Exercise caution when using essential oils around pregnant, nursing, or young pets. Some oils may not be suitable for their delicate systems, so it's best to consult with your veterinarian.
  • Avoid Essential Oils if Using Topical Medication: If your pet is already using topical medication or a dermal patch, it's important to avoid using essential oils topically. The combination of medications and oils may have adverse effects.
  • Beware of Xylitol: Never give products containing xylitol, such as toothpaste or beadlets, to your pets. Xylitol can be toxic to dogs and should be avoided.
  • Choose ONLY Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils: Selecting high-quality, therapeutic grade essential oils is crucial for the safety and effectiveness of their use on pets. Ensure that the oils are pure and free from harmful additives. Many essential oils on the market have proven to be adulterated and unregulated so it is best to ensure quality is best for your beloved pet. I only recommend using doTERRA essential oils for this reason.
  • Observe Your Pet's Behaviour: When using essential oils on or near your pet, closely monitor their behaviour. If you notice any signs of distress, such as drooling, squinting, rubbing their face, or vocalization, discontinue use immediately.
  • Contact Your Veterinarian: If your pet shows any signs of adverse reactions or if you have any concerns, contact your veterinarian for guidance and assistance.

Essential Oils Safe for Dogs

Chamomile Oil

Chamomile oil offers calming effects and can help ease stress and anxiety in dogs. It is also beneficial for settling an upset stomach. If your dog tends to be shy or fearful, chamomile oil can assist in improving socialization skills.

Frankincense Oil

Frankincense oil supports cell health and immunity in dogs. It can be used to boost their immune system and aid digestion if stress or anxiety is causing an upset stomach.

Copaiba Oil

Copaiba oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for dogs with joint pain or inflammation. It can be used topically or diffused for its aromatic benefits.

Ginger Oil

Ginger oil, known for its soothing properties, can help clear respiratory tracts and alleviate stomach discomfort in dogs. It can be used to relieve symptoms such as nausea or indigestion. Use this oil sparingly and dilute well.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is widely used for its calming effects on both humans and dogs. It can help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation. When using lavender oil, it is recommended to dilute one drop in a carrier oil and apply it topically or use it in a water diffuser for aromatic use.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil, when diluted properly, can be used to freshen breath and soothe digestive issues in dogs. It is essential to dilute peppermint oil in a carrier oil before applying it topically.

Lemon Oil *

Lemon is great to diffuse to help cheer up the mood if your pet is feeling down. Diffusing Lemon with Lavender or Peppermint is another great combination to diffuse safely around your dogs.

doTERRA's Balance Oil *

Balance is a grounding blend and is one of the emotional wellness oils. This can be beneficial if your dog is stressed or anxious. It is great to diffuse to help calm and relax them. 

doTERRA's ZenGest Oil *

This oil blend contains a mixture of specially formulated oils to support healthy digestion. When diluted properly, can be used to soothe digestive issues in dogs. It is essential to dilute this oil in a carrier oil before applying it topically, depending on the size of your dog, dilute as you would for a small a general rule. Less is more.

essential oils for dogs safety and oils to avoid for dogs and cats

Essential Oils Safe for Cats

Turmeric Oil

Turmeric oil offers anti-inflammatory properties and can benefit cats with joint pain or arthritis. It can be used topically or diffused in a water diffuser for aromatic use.

Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood oil is known for its calming effects on cats. It can help reduce anxiety and stress. When using cedarwood oil, it is important to dilute it properly and use it in a water diffuser or topically with a carrier oil.

Frankincense Oil*

Frankincense oil supports the immune system and overall well-being of cats. It can be used to boost their immune response and promote relaxation. Ensure proper dilution when using frankincense oil on cats.

Copaiba Oil

Copaiba oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for cats with joint pain or inflammation. It can be used topically or diffused for its aromatic benefits.

Lavender Oil*

Lavender oil, known for its calming effects, can also benefit cats. It can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Dilute lavender oil in a carrier oil before applying it topically or use it in a water diffuser for aromatic use.

Essential Oils to Avoid for Pets

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is toxic to both dogs and cats and should be strictly avoided. It can cause skin irritation, central nervous system toxicity, and other severe health issues. Never use tea tree oil on or near your pets. Some oil blends may contain a little tea tree, and this is okay to be diffused if ventilation is adequate, but check on your pets behaviour.

Birch and Wintergreen Oils

Birch and wintergreen oils contain methyl salicylate, which can be toxic to pets if ingested. These oils should be avoided to prevent potential harm.

Other Oils to Avoid for Cats

In addition to tea tree oil, certain essential oils should be avoided for cats due to their potential toxicity. These include basil, citrus oils (bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine), cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, thyme, and wintergreen.

Signs of Essential Oil Poisoning in Pets

It's crucial to be aware of the signs of essential oil poisoning in pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested or had excessive exposure to essential oils and notice any of the following symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty walking or unsteady gait
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pawing at the mouth or rubbing the face
  • Redness inside the mouth, lips, or gums


While essential oils can offer potential benefits for pets, it's crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being. Dilution, quality, purity and proper usage are key to ensure the oils are used safely. By following the guidelines and precautions outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can safely incorporate essential oils into your pets' lives and potentially enhance their overall well-being.

My recommended oil pack for the whole family...humans + pets is the Home Essentials or Family Essentials Starter Packs (Aust + NZ**)

How to Purchase Oils

* Essential Oils in my Starter Packs 

My recommended oil packs for the whole family...humans + pets is either the:

1. Home Essentials - Best Value 15ml bottles + coconut oil  (option to save on diffusers -20%)

2. Family Essentials - 5ml bottles + coconut oil (option to save on diffusers -20%)

3. Emotional Wellness - 15ml bottles (if you want to focus on emotional support) + petal diffuser which is ideal as it gives a 12hrs intermittent option which is better for pets throughout the day.

4. AromaTouch - 15ml bottles + large coconut oil + bonus online training

These contain most oils that are safe to use around your pets. Tea Tree is the only oil in these packs that should be avoided for use around dogs and cats (horses and some other animals is okay). Use On Guard and Eucalyptus with caution - okay to diffuse, or diluted in cleaning, but just watch your pet's behaviour if using them.



A great resource is to download the app – SpOil Your Pet – A Practical Guide to Using Essential Oils in Dogs and Cars, which was created by vets Mia K Frezzo DVM and Jan C. Jeremias, MSc.

*Always consult with your veterinarian before introducing essential oils to your pets' routine. I am not claiming to be a vet or vet nurse, however, I have done the webinar training by Dr Janet Roark – The Essential Oil Vet and regularly use essential oils on both my dogs. I had some incredible results by using the doterra frankincense and copaiba essential oils daily,  to support my dog Chelsea, with her Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) diagnosis.

**International Orders for purchasing doTERRA at the 25% discount, please click here and choose country and language for your area. My ID# is 2352727.


Renee Leach
BA.Ed B.Ed. Health Physical Education
Founder aromaLEAF 
doTERRA Australia Leader
Certified doTERRA Essential Oil Specialist
AromaTouch Practitioner