Dogs love to lick. They lick themselves, they lick you; if you spill something on the floor they’ll lick that too… especially if they think it might be food. Licking is a normal part of the way dogs experience the world, even if it seems weird to us to lick the furniture. In fact, licking releases endorphins in dogs, and sometimes things just taste good… like those cookie crumbs on the couch.
If you’ve ever had to put ointment on your dog, you probably had to use an Elizabethan Collar (aka the cone of shame) to keep your dog from licking that off. Why do they do it? They’re curious about what it is, and for some reason, they like the flavor.
What if your dog licks something like an essential oil? Is this safe, or is it something you should worry about? If it was an oil that is supposed to be dog safe, will that make a difference? Before you use essential oils on or around your dog, read this. We’ll let you know if your dog can lick essential oils and what can happen if they do.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are plant extracts. They come in varying levels of purity, and some are merely synthetic versions of the plant oils. Synthetic oils are for scenting things only and should never be ingested or applied to the skin.
You should also use care when handling natural essential oils, no matter how highly they’re graded. If they are not properly diluted in a carrier oil, they can cause irritation to the skin. To learn more about the ins and outs of essential oils, you can read this helpful guide here.
Are Essential Oils Safe To Use On or Around Dogs?
Essential oils can be safe on dogs if you use them properly. Make sure the oils are properly diluted in a dog-safe carrier oil. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so a very small amount is all you need. Sweet almond oil and coconut oil are dog safe and make great carrier oils.
Rub the oil on your hands, and then “pet” them onto your dog. Do not apply directly to your dog’s skin. And make sure to avoid their ears, nose, and any irritated areas. The carrier oil will help distribute the essential oil to your dog’s skin.
Always do a patch test before using any essential oil on your dog. Only use oils that are dog safe, and remember just because it is safe for most dogs does not mean that your dog will not react to it.
You can also try diffusing essential oils around your dog. Start slowly; a dog’s sensitive nose may not react well to the oil at first. There’s also a chance your dog just doesn’t care for the smell! Always diffuse in a well-ventilated room, and do not run the diffuser for more than half an hour.
Bath products, like a Fido Fizzies dog bath bomb, are one of the better ways to introduce essential oils to your dog. The essential oils will already be diluted in a carrier oil, and they will be further diluted in your dog’s bathwater. This means no figuring out proportions if you are a novice to essential oil use.
Some dog-safe essential oils for topical use, bathtime, or for diffusing include:
For a more extensive list of dog-safe essential oils, check out this helpful list here.
My Dog Licked Some Essential Oils… What Do I Do?
Just because essential oils are safe for topical use, or to inhale, does not mean they’re safe to ingest. If your dog drinks some bathwater with an essential oil bath bomb in it, don’t panic, these oils are so diluted they won’t cause any harm to your dog. Licking diluted oil off of himself is also not likely to have any negative effects on your dog, although if you’re worried, an E-Collar may be in order.
Of course, you’re as careful as you can be with your essential oils, but what if you drop a bottle, and your dog gets to it before you can clean it up? Synthetic potpourri oils and undiluted oils that are not-dog safe are where the real danger lies.
Undiluted essential oils can cause chemical burns in the mouth even if they’re dog safe. In addition, they can cause some gastric upset, and your dog may experience some minor vomiting and diarrhea. If the oils are otherwise dog-safe, contact your vet. Most likely they will want you to monitor your dog, but they may want you to bring your dog in to make sure they did not suffer any chemical burns.
If they get into an oil that is not dog-safe, there are some signs that they may be experiencing severe toxicity:
- Excessive drooling
- Bumps on and around the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
If not treated quickly, ingesting these oils can lead to devastating health consequences like liver failure and central nervous system damage.
If your dog has ingested synthetic potpourri oil, or any non-safe oil like tea tree, citrus, pennyroyal, or ylang ylang, get your dog to the emergency vet. Prompt treatment will help ensure your dog makes a full recovery
If there is no emergency vet near you, call Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435. They can walk you through the steps to take until you can get your dog to the veterinarian. Provide them with as much information as you can about the oil that has been ingested.
Thankfully, as long as your oils are stored safely, and used properly, you have very little to worry about. Our pro tip? Consider only keeping dog-safe oils on hand to really give yourself peace of mind! And when selecting your dog’s grooming products, do your research, and choose to purchase from reputable, transparent companies like Fido Fizzies! We know just how important your dog is to you, and we also know how valuable peace of mind is. All of our products are dog-safe and made with natural, therapeutic oils!