Diving into the world of essential oils can feel like stepping into a garden of endless possibilities. But just as we carefully select the best ingredients for our dogs’ meals at A Pup Above, we must also pick out the scents that fill our homes with care. 

The truth is, our pups experience the world through their noses much more intensely than we do, and what smells heavenly to us might not sit well with them. Interested in learning more? We’ve got you covered. 

Read on to discover all you need to know about essential oils and their impact on dogs — we’ll also guide you through the ones that could be less than perfect for your dog. 

Why Are Certain Essential Oils Dangerous for Dogs?

Not all essential oils are dog-friendly. The same properties that make essential oils so beneficial for humans can sometimes spell trouble for our pups. 


Dogs' olfactory capabilities are vastly superior to ours, making them incredibly sensitive to smells. What's a mild fragrance to a human can be an overpowering olfactory assault to a dog, leading to stress or anxiety.


Believe it or not, some essential oils pack a punch not just with their fragrance but with compounds that can be really tough on dogs. When they are exposed to these, their bodies may react negatively, struggling to metabolize the substances properly. 

This can manifest in mild symptoms such as drooling and vomiting or escalate to critical conditions, including liver failure and central nervous system issues.

Skin and Snout Sensitivities

Dogs' skin, especially around their snout, can absorb these potent oils, leading to irritation or even burns. The risk increases if dogs lick areas where oils have been applied directly or spill, ingesting these concentrated compounds.

Respiratory Reactions

Diffusers disperse tiny droplets of oil into the air, which might be inhaled by pets. For dogs, especially those with pre-existing respiratory issues, this can lead to difficulty breathing, coughing, or sneezing.


From gastrointestinal upset to neurological quirks, the wrong essential oils can lead to a gamut of health issues. Symptoms can include lethargy, muscle tremors, and even seizures, signaling that what’s therapeutic for humans isn’t always pet-friendly.

Which Essential Oils Should You Avoid Around Dogs?

Navigating the aromatic world of essential oils means knowing which paths to avoid for the sake of our dogs. 

Here's a list of essential oils you might love but your dog would happily pass on:

  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca): Often touted for its antibacterial properties in humans, tea tree oil can be particularly harsh on dogs, causing symptoms from skin irritation to neurological effects.
  • Peppermint: As refreshing as it is for us, peppermint oil can lead to gastrointestinal upset and nervous system problems in dogs.
  • Eucalyptus: Beloved for its respiratory benefits in people, eucalyptus oil can trigger drooling, vomiting, and even respiratory distress in our dogs.
  • Wintergreen: Its soothing properties for humans contrast sharply with the risk it poses to dogs, potentially causing severe health issues, including liver failure.
  • Pennyroyal: Known as a natural insect repellent, this oil can be a nightmare for dogs, leading to liver damage and worse.
  • Ylang Ylang: While its exotic scent calms humans, it can overwhelm dogs, leading to nausea and confusion.
  • Citrus Oils (including Lemon and Orange): Their uplifting scent can cause stomach distress and even depression in dogs.
  • Pine Oil: Often used in cleaning products, it’s a big no-no for dogs, possibly causing vomiting, drooling, and weakness.
  • Cinnamon: While it smells like the holidays to us, it can cause irritation of the mouth and digestive issues for dogs.

Remember, this isn't an exhaustive list. Dogs are individuals, and what affects one may not affect another in the same way. 

However, erring on the side of caution keeps tails wagging and spirits high. When in doubt, consult a veterinarian before diffusing your favorite scent, ensuring your home remains safe for every member of your family — especially the ones who experience the world nose-first.

Are There Any Pet-Safe Essential Oils?

While exploring essential oils, it's a relief to discover that not all scents are off-limits for our canine companions. When used judiciously and under the guidance of a vet, certain essential oils can offer benefits for dogs, contributing to a holistic approach to their well-being. 

Here are some of the safer scents:

  • Lavender Oil: Renowned for its calming properties, lavender can help soothe anxiety and stress in dogs, making it a go-to for creating a relaxing environment.
  • Chamomile: This gentle oil is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, helping to ease skin conditions and soothe irritations on your dog’s skin.
  • Frankincense: Often used in holistic practices, frankincense can support your dog’s immune system and promote a sense of calm.
  • Cedarwood: Beyond its earthy aroma, cedarwood oil acts as a natural repellent against pests and can support healthy skin and coat.
  • Sweet Birch: While potent, when diluted properly, sweet birch can help with discomfort and muscle soreness, thanks to its analgesic properties.

Note: It's important to remember that even these safer options should be used with caution.

How To Safely Use Essential Oils for Dogs

When incorporating essential oils into your dog's environment, a little knowledge and a lot of caution can make all the difference. 

Here are some tips to ensure you're using these potent plant extracts in a way that benefits, rather than harms, your dog:

Consult a Vet

Before diffusing your first drop, have a chat with your vet. They can offer advice on which oils are safe and how to use them, ensuring your pup's health stays front and center.

Dilution Is Key

Essential oils should never be used undiluted on dogs. Mixing them with carrier oil reduces the potency and minimizes risks, making them gentler for your pet's sensitive nose and skin.

Diffuse With Care

If you're using an essential oil diffuser, keep it in a well-ventilated area and out of reach of curious paws and noses. This helps prevent overwhelming your dog with strong scents or accidental ingestion.

Spot Check

Try a patch test with diluted oils to ensure your dog doesn’t have a skin reaction. A little precaution goes a long way in preventing irritation or allergic reactions.

Watch for Reactions

Observe your dog closely after introducing any new scent. Signs of discomfort or distress, such as excessive scratching, sneezing, or lethargy, mean it's time to stop and reassess.

Knowledge Is Power

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of essential oil poisoning in dogs, such as drooling, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. If you suspect your dog has been adversely affected by an essential oil, contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.


At A Pup Above, we believe in nurturing not just through what our pups eat but also in the environments they thrive in. While some essential oils can enhance well-being, awareness and care are paramount. Always prioritize your dog's health and happiness, opting for vet-approved, dog-friendly options and usage methods.

Our commitment is to keep your home safe for every step of the journey, ensuring a sniff-happy, tail-wagging haven for your dogs. Remember, the best aroma is the one that keeps your pup happy and healthy!


Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs? There Are Quite a Few Risks Involved | American Kennel Club (AKC)

How Dogs Use Smell to Perceive the World | VCA Animal Hospital

Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs | VCA

Evaluation of the effect of topical application of lavender oil on autonomic nerve activity in dogs | PMC