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Is Lavender Safe for Dogs?

dog chillin' with some lavender

Is lavender safe for dogs? The short answer is "yes," but it's a bit more complicated than that.

Lavender is a beautiful, aromatic plant prized for its ability to calm the body and mind. You can find lavender in many products, including soaps, shampoos, candles, lotions, and more.

But did you know that lavender can also improve your dog's quality of life?

Used responsibly, it can help dogs relax, reduce pain, calm thunderstorm phobias, and more.

In this article, you'll learn about lavender for dogs: what it is, how to use it, and the best ways to give this safe, gentle herb to your pup.

What is lavender essential oil?

Lavender essential oil comes from lavender flowers. To make the oil, the tiny purple blossoms are distilled, producing the fragrant liquid that has a floral aroma with woodsy, herbaceous undertones.

Is lavender essential oil animal friendly?

As long as it's used responsibly, lavender essential oil is an animal-friendly herb.

Only use pure, therapeutic-lavender oil. Avoid lavender products mixed with paraben, dyes, and other ingredients that can be harmful to dogs.

Is lavender oil toxic to dogs?

The lavender plant contains a compound called linalool, which can be toxic to animals like dogs and cats. However, the plant has such small concentrations of linalool that toxicity is not a common issue.

The problem happens when dogs ingest an enormous amount of lavender. Large quantities of linalool in a dog's system can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, sedation, seizures, and more serious conditions.

That's why you have to be extra careful when using lavender oil for dogs.

It's highly concentrated, which means it contains a high level of linalool. Ingesting even a small amount can make your dog sick.

Always observe safety precautions when using lavender oil on your dog. This includes diluting it thoroughly before use and only using the smallest amount necessary for treatment.

Why use lavender essential oil for your dog?

Used safely, lavender essential oil is beneficial to dogs in similar ways to humans.

For example, it has a calming effect, so it can help dogs relax. It also helps relieve pain and anxiety. Dogs who are anxious or in a lot of pain are often less likely to sleep or eat, which can cause even more problems.

Lavender oil also has mild antibiotic properties, along with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and other healthful properties.

All-natural benefits of lavender essential oil for dogs

Let's dive deeper into the many benefits of lavender essential oil for dogs.

Bug repellent

Lavender oil is an effective natural flea repellent if it's diluted with water and sprayed onto your dog's coat before they head outdoors. It smells great, so your dog will love getting a spritz of lavender mist as they walk through the door.

Lavender is a great insect repellent for dogs because it works quickly and keeps bugs at bay for several hours.

Make your own "doggie cologne" to keep fleas away with lavender oil, carrier oils, and other natural ingredients.

Itchy skin ointment

Lavender oil has natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can relieve itchy, irritated skin caused by dryness or allergies.

Joint pain relief

When a dog has joint pain, it's harder for them to move around. They can become lethargic and have trouble getting comfortable enough to sleep or relax.

Lavender oil can help improve blood flow, relieves pain, and reduce inflammation, which can help your dog move and play more easily.

Burn relief

If your dog ever gets burned or scalded, you can use diluted lavender oil to treat the pain. It has natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties to soothe the skin and prevent infection.

Anxiety relief

When a dog is anxious, they often bark, whine, pace around, or engage in other destructive behaviors. These are signs of distress that can be hard to handle for both you and your pet.

Believe it or not, anxiety can actually lead to a skin condition called lick granuloma. This skin condition causes your dog to self-mutilate by licking his skin to the point of irritation and hair loss. 

Lavender can help reduce a dog's stress, calm them down, and improve their mood. It's especially helpful for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety or get triggered by certain stimuli, such as thunder.

Motion sickness relief

Dogs get carsick, sea sick, and airsick too. Lavender can help calm your dog's nerves while they travel to prevent vomiting or nausea.

Sleep aid

Does your dog have trouble sleeping at night? Lavender can help. Its soothing, calming scent is perfect for creating a relaxing environment that encourages restful sleep.

Boosting the immune system

Lavender oil has antimicrobial properties that fight off harmful bacteria in the body without affecting beneficial flora. It boosts the immune system and helps support overall health and wellness.

Reducing odor

You don't have to mask bad smells with other odors when you can use lavender oil. It's natural and has a fresh, clean smell instead of an artificial perfume fragrance.

Its antiseptic properties can also help reduce the formation of harmful bacteria in your dog's coat or on their skin.

Soothing Skin Allergies

The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of lavender oil help reduce itchy, inflamed skin that's caused by allergies.

How to use lavender essential oil safely with dogs

While lavender oil has many benefits for dogs, it can be dangerous if not used properly.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

1. Only use diluted lavender oil on your dog.

Always dilute lavender oil with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil before using it on your dog. The safe dilution ratio is typically 2-5%.

2. Keep lavender oil away from your dog's eyes, mouth, and genital area.

These parts are sensitive to essential oils, so if lavender oil ends up in them, it could lead to irritation or discomfort.

3. Store lavender oil somewhere your dog can't reach.

As any pet owner knows, dogs will try to eat anything and everything. Always remember to keep your essential oils out of your dog's reach.

4. Slowly introduce lavender oil to your dog.

If you plan to use lavender oil for the first time, start by using it in small amounts and observe how your dog reacts.

Watch out for these warning signs:

  • Rashes, hives, or hot spots where you applied the oil
  • Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or irritated eyes
  • Rapid respiratory rate or shortness of breath
  • Tremors

If you see any of these signs, stop using lavender oil immediately and call your vet.

5. Listen to your dog.

A dog's sense of smell is much stronger than ours. What smells nice to humans can be overpowering to dogs.

Before you start using lavender oil on your pet, make sure he has an escape route so he can leave if he feels uncomfortable. Leave the door open or do it within sight of his crate.

During the first time you introduce lavender oil to your dog, offer him treats so he associates the smell with something pleasurable.

Let him smell it first, then watch his reaction.

Does he start panting, rubbing his face on the carpet, whining, or turning his face away from you?

Stop immediately and pick another time and place to try again.

How to dilute lavender oil for dogs

As mentioned above, the ideal dilution percentage for dogs is 2%-5%. A good rule of thumb is to add 3-6 drops of lavender oil to 1 fluid ounce of water.

Does lavender make dogs sleepy?

Lavender can help dogs sleep faster and better. The natural calming properties of lavender oil encourage relaxation and help ease your dog's stress, which makes it easier to fall asleep.

How to safely give your dog lavender oil

Now that you know how beneficial lavender oil is for dogs, here are different ways you can try to safely give it to them:

Diffusion

Diffusing lavender oil for dogs is a safe way to help calm them down before you leave the house, or when your pet needs some extra TLC at home. It's also a wonderful way to fill your home with its soothing scent.

If you have a diffuser, add a few drops of lavender essential oil into the water.

Don't have one? Boil a pot of water instead, add a few drops of lavender oil, and place in a closed room for DIY aromatherapy.

Topical application

"Topical" means applied to the skin. Lavender oil can help reduce inflammation and itching when you apply it directly to your dog's affected areas like cuts, scrapes, or burns.

It can also be used as a soothing after-bath application for dogs with itchy or sensitive skin conditions.

Always dilute lavender oil first before topical application. Use 2-5% dilutions or roughly 1 drop of essential oil for every teaspoon of carrier oil.

If you use lavender on your dog's skin, start by testing a small area first. If there are no signs of irritation after 24 hours, go ahead and apply it to the rest of his body.

You can also add lavender oil to your dog's shampoo for a more relaxing bath.

For a complete guide on how to safely and naturally treat your dogs’ skin conditions, check out our post on the topic here.

Direct inhalation

You can give your dog lavender through its nose by diffusing or adding a few drops of lavender oil to his collar or bedding.

Inhaling the scent of essential oils is another way dogs enjoy the benefits of lavender, and it's a great way to make sure he doesn't develop an aversion to the smell.

Mist spray

Mist your dog's bedding and other areas he frequently hangs out for a fresh lavender scent. Again, make sure to dilute the oil first and test a small amount on the carpet, bedding, or furniture to be sure it doesn't stain.

You can also spray a very thin layer of diluted lavender oil on his coat to help calm him down.

Rub a small amount inside your dog's ears

Dogs can't lick their ears, so it's a great spot to apply a few drops of diluted lavender oil for fast and effective relief.

Be sure the area is clean before applying, and test it first on a small patch just in case your dog has an adverse reaction.

Lavender stuffed toy

Does your dog have a favorite cuddle buddy? Add a tiny drop of lavender oil to the toy for an extra calming effect.

In his crate

Apply a little lavender oil on the ceiling of his crate to help him relax and sleep better.

Remember, always dilute lavender oil before using it on your pet. Never apply undiluted oils to your dog's skin or around his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, rectum/genital areas, or other sensitive spots.

When in doubt about how much to use or how often you can apply lavender oil to your dog, always err on the side of caution.

Is lavender shampoo safe for dogs?

Yes, but it depends on the ingredients in the shampoo. Some pet shampoos have harsh chemicals like sulfates.

Keep these in mind:

  • You'll want to get a lavender shampoo for dogs that's organic, dye-free, has no 

parabens, and made of all-natural ingredients that are proven safe for pets.

It should also be tearless, safe to swallow in small amounts, pH balanced, hypoallergenic, and free from synthetic fragrances and colors.

The PetBiotics Prebiotic Lavender Dog Shampoo is all of that and more.

In tandem with lavender oil, the PetBiotics dog shampoo stimulates the production of healthy bacteria in your dog's skin:

  • After bathing your dog with the PetBiotics Prebiotics Lavender Dog Shampoo, the healthy microorganisms on your dog's skin begin to feed on the alkaloid-based stimulant left by the prebiotics.
  • The supercharged healthy bacteria overpower the harmful ones, creating a natural alkaline enzyme that your dog's skin naturally absorbs.
  • This process works to rejuvenate your dog's skin and coat from the inside out.

The result is soft, shiny fur and hydrated skin for your dog - which also smells incredible thanks to the natural lavender essential oil.

wet dog after a bath with lavender dog shampoo

People who use this shampoo on their pets have seen a reduction in dander, flakiness, dryness, and other hair issues.

These two work in tandem to moisturize your dog's skin from within, reduce itching and dryness, and promote healthy hair growth.

Lavender for dogs: final thoughts

Lavender oil can be a fantastic addition to your dog's routine. As long as you observe safety precautions, it's a great way to improve his mental and emotional wellness, improve his general health, and make him a calmer and happier pup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Are there side effects from lavender oil for dogs?

Lavender is safe for topical use on dogs, but it's always a good idea to test a small amount on the carpet, bedding, or furniture to be sure it doesn't stain. 

You can also spray a very thin layer of diluted lavender oil on his coat to help calm him down. Use caution when applying - remember that dogs have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do!

2. Can dogs eat lavender?

No, never feed your dog lavender buds or essential oil. They both contain linalool, a compound that is toxic to dogs in large amounts.

3. What carrier oils can you use with lavender oil?

Carrier oils are a great way to dilute lavender essential oil before you apply it topically or diffuse it. Use pet-safe and skin-healthy oils like coconut oil.

4. What's the best way to apply lavender oil to my dog?

You can use a diffuser, spray, and/or apply it topically, or use a lavender shampoo. Always test a small amount first to see if your dog has any reaction before you apply lavender oil in larger quantities. 

Be sure not to get any in his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, rectum/genital areas, or other sensitive areas.

5. How do I diffuse lavender oil with my dog?

Use a diffuser and direct the mist away from your dog's face so he doesn't inhale too much of the oil. Y

ou can also create a DIY diffuser by filling a dish or bowl with water and adding a few drops of lavender oil to it, then placing it on a table next to your dog.

6. Can I put lavender oil on my dog's food?

Never feed your dog any amount of lavender oil, whether it's the essential oil, buds, or flowers. These pure forms of lavender can be dangerous to dogs.

7. Is lavender good for dogs with anxiety?

Yes! Lavender can be a great way to calm down your dog, whether you use it topically, diffuse it in his environment, or apply it directly to his paws.

Kelly Graham

Kelly Graham is the founder and President of Aleavia Brands, LLC. She has a passion for all things natural, real, and organic. Read more of her story here


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