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Pet Health


Lavender Oil and Your Dog

A few years back, essential oils were all the rage. Oils were recommended for pretty-much “anything that ails you”. We…

Are essential oils safe for dogs?

A few years back, essential oils were all the rage. Oils were recommended for pretty-much “anything that ails you”. We even published a blog back in 2015 on the benefits of lavender oil for your dog. The therapeutic use of essential oils can unquestionably be useful for certain ailments, but it is something that should be entered into with caution when using for pets. What really scares me is that someone hears the blanket statement “lavender oil is good for dogs” and so they just grab whatever lavender-type oil they come across and slather it on their dog. The next thing you know, the dog is staggering, vomiting, and drooling. Scary, right? There are several reports online of veterinarians treating dogs and cats for the misuse of essential oils. It is important to do your research first.

I spent some time trying to find the answer to the question, “Is Lavender oil really safe for dogs?” The problem I have found is that there is not a lot of credible information regarding lavender oil safety. A lot of what is written is “opinion”, and very little is absolute. What is widely agreed upon by experts, though, is that you should proceed carefully. There are two critical elements of importance to consider when using lavender oil for your dog. You must know 1) What type of oil to use, and 2) How to use it safely. Hopefully, this blog will help.

First off, I just have to make mention of cats. If you google “Is lavender oil safe for cats”, the first thing that will pop up is that yes, lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that is safe for cats. Call me a chicken, but I would never use any type of essential oil on or near a cat. Cats have very sensitive respiratory and metabolic systems. Unless your veterinarian prescribes the use of, or recommends an essential oil for your cat, just don’t do it. It is not worth the risk.

Benefits of lavender oil for my dog

There are many benefits to properly using lavender oil for your dog.

• Anxiety Relief – Lavender is best known for its calming properties. It is said to be soothing to the central nervous system.

• Insect Repellent – Lavender oil is a natural flea and tick repellent. Lavender will not kill the insects, but it will repel them.

• Antiseptic uses – Lavender oil soothes irritated skin and can help prevent infection from scratching. Lavender is a full-spectrum oil, meaning it has antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties.

• Pain reliever – There are a few veterinarian articles online who tout lavender oil as a pain reliever. They say it reduces inflammation, thereby easing joint pain and arthritis.

What type of lavender oil can you use on your dog?

There are many types of lavender oils on the market. Some oils are synthetic, some are for culinary purposes only, and others are simply perfume/fragrance or “essence” oils. Fragrance oils are blended with other fragrances and contain “carrier” oils to help with dilution and distribution/application of the product. I was surprised to read that “therapeutic” grade oil is just a marketing term, and that there is no formal “grading” for oils. For that reason, beware of “aromatherapy grade oils” as well. Learn to read labels objectively.

Oils are not regulated so it is easy to be fooled into buying an inferior product. Since there really isn’t any type of third party regulating or certifying essential oils, you should look for a company that ensures their quality based on their own testing. You want to know that your oil is pure and authentic. Good oils are bottled in small dark bottles (to protect from damaging light). In addition to stating “lavender oil” on the bottle, it will also have the Latin name of the specific lavender plant used (there are several). You want to make sure that you are buying a 100% pure essential oil, and that is exactly what you should look for on the label.

Price can sometimes an indicator of product quality. Keep in mind, production of pure plant oils is expensive. A smaller company may charge a slightly higher price for profitability reasons, but the cost should still be within “reason”. If you’re a bargain shopper like me, I would be drawn to the least expensive product, but this is not the time to be overly frugal. A very low price could be an indicator of a very poor product. Compare what you are buying to other essential oil brands. The pricing for most brands will be in the same “ballpark”.

How to safely use lavender oil with dogs

Using the oils is the scary part. Essential oils may do amazing things for your pup, but they can also do harm. The oils will inevitably be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream. From there, it is routed to the organs, such as the liver and kidneys. That’s when we start biting our nails…

Lavender contains a couple of substances that are toxic to both dogs and cats: linalool and linalyl acetate. But they would have to ingest very large amounts of lavender to be a problem and that’s highly unlikely… unless you live near a lavender farm to which your dog roams and “snacks” on the fragrant flower. Generally, though, the fear of using essential oils with our dogs is the fear of chemical burns and organ toxicity.

We are not herbalists, aromatherapists, or holistic veterinarians at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. It would be irresponsible for us to define for you precisely how to use lavender oil. Generally, the oils are diffused, applied topically, or inhaled. But before using any herbs or essential oils on or near your pets, please talk with your veterinarian. With their approval, we would suggest working with a registered aromatherapist. Application and dosage are extremely important to avoid toxicity.

What we can tell you is that essential oils cannot be administered directly. If applied or sprayed, the oils must be diluted. Oils should not be used on young puppies, toy breeds, very old dogs, sick or pregnant dogs. Also avoid using oils near your dog’s mouth, eyes, nose, or genital areas. Use sparingly, particularly at first – until you see how your dog will react. I also wouldn’t let your dog ingest any type of lavender either, at least until more is known about its effects.

Remember, your dog has a super sensitive sense of smell and may find the oil offensive. If they don’t like it, please don’t make them “wear” or smell it. It is possible they could even be allergic to it. Or it may “burn” their sinuses. Watch closely for signs such as nervousness, whining, or excessive scratching.

So, is lavender safe for dogs or not?

I would love to give an emphatic “yes” answer that question, but it is just not that simple. Lavender oil is generally thought of as safe for dogs and I do believe that it can be useful to your dog’s well-being. But I would hesitate to jump on that bandwagon without a thorough education and understanding. Learn from knowledgeable sources, and always with your veterinarian’s advice. Be wary of what you read on the internet too. When you feel comfortable, proceed slowly and cautiously, use sparsely, and only with your veterinarian’s supervision.

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Are you looking for a place for your pets to relax and have a staycation?  Reach out to Holiday Barn Pet Resorts at either our Glen Allen, VA location or our Midlothian, VA location!

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