Is Lavender Safe For Dogs?

Key takeaway

Lavender is toxic to dogs, especially when consumed. However, the scent can also cause respiratory symptoms in some dogs because they have a stronger sense of smell. Both the lavender plant and essential oils can be dangerous for your pet. If you have lavender products in your home, keep them away from your pet at all times to ensure they don’t come in contact with the toxins.

Lavender can be unsafe for dogs, depending on how it’s used. Lavender is an aromatic plant that can promote calmness and may be able to help anxious dogs calm down. It also has medicinal properties that have been used for healing for thousands of years. However, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe for your dog. 

Lavender contains linalool, a compound toxic to pets, including dogs. However, while linalool is toxic to dogs in large amounts, toxicity in dogs is rarer than it is in cats. That being said, dogs can become poisoned by eating a large amount of lavender from the plant or essential oils. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about the safety of lavender for dogs, including symptoms of lavender poisoning, inhalation vs. ingestion, and what to do if your dog consumes lavender. 

Symptoms of Lavender Poisoning 

Lavender poisoning can occur when dogs consume large quantities of lavender from the plant, eat a candle with essential oils, or lick the essential oils. Signs of lavender poisoning may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Fever
  • Dog diarrhea
  • Inability to pass stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shock
  • Vomiting
  • Trembling in dogs
  • Difficulty breathing1

Is lavender oil safe for dogs? Unfortunately, many pet parents believe lavender oil is safe for dogs because essential oils are natural. However, this isn’t the case. Essential oils can be potentially very dangerous to your dog when used improperly. 

If you’ve used essential oils, you may have realized how harsh they are in odor and on the skin. Not only can applying oils directly to the skin irritate or even burn your dog’s skin, but they should never be consumed, and you can’t be around 24/7 to ensure your dog doesn’t lick themselves. Always talk to your vet first if you’re trying to use essential oils to treat a condition. There are safer, proven methods to heal your dog. 

Additionally, your dog’s respiratory tract can be irritated by lavender. Therefore, if you diffuse the essential oil at home, your dog may have difficulty breathing. While lavender essential oil has been used to treat anxiety in dogs in rare cases, it’s not the only method and it’s not the safest. Instead, talk to your vet before using lavender for your pet. 

Of course, you must also be careful when using lavender at home for yourself. If you keep a plant inside, put it somewhere your dog can’t get to it. Additionally, if you diffuse essential oils, try to diffuse them in rooms your dog doesn’t spend much time in. Additionally, any bath products that contain essential oils should be locked away from pets to prevent them from finding them.

Causes of Lavender Poisoning

Using lavender around your home or keeping a lavender plant may seem harmless, but it’s not completely safe for your pet. Causes of lavender poisoning include:

  • Ingestion of the lavender plant
  • Exposure (ingestion, inhalation, through the skin) to essential oils
  • Hidden in food or toys

Even though a lavender plant may make a great addition to your home or outdoor garden, it’s not a safe plant to keep near dogs. Dogs are curious creatures, and one way they learn about the world is through their sense of taste. Unfortunately, that means they may try to eat your plants, including any potentially toxic plants you have inside or outdoors. 

Additionally, exposure to essential oils can be dangerous to pets. Never apply lavender oil directly to your pet’s skin or fur because they may try to lick it off. These essential oils can be absorbed through the skin, causing toxicity. Meanwhile, breathing in the essential oil can cause respiratory issues in dogs, resulting in wheezing, difficulty breathing, sneezing, and even coughing. 

Can My Dog Breathe Lavender? 

Some vets may suggest diffusing lavender in your home to help calm an anxious dog. However, you should only use lavender for your dog when advised by a vet. That being said, there are many adverse side effects of essential oils. 

Luckily, diluted lavender oil is considered relatively safe for dogs. When you use a diffuser, you only add a few drops to water, diluting the essential oil to a safer level. But, of course, there is no guarantee that your dog won’t try to lick the droplets or anywhere the droplets land. 

Never apply lavender oil directly to your dog’s skin or fur for them to inhale because they can easily ingest it. Undiluted lavender oil can cause severe skin irritation and some dogs might have allergies to lavender oil, causing inflamed skin, itchiness, and respiratory issues. 

Therefore, dogs can breathe lavender, but it must be used appropriately. If you’re considering using lavender oil for your dog, talk to a vet who can discuss the benefits and potential risks while providing you with instructions or recommendations. 

What Scents Are Safe for My Dog?

No essential oils are truly safe for dogs because they can be easily mishandled, leading your dog to ingest them. However, some scents are safer than others to diffuse. For example, lavender essential oil, orange essential oil, and lemon essential oil are considered relatively safe to diffuse around pets, but you should monitor your pet when diffusing oils in your home. Keep your diffuser up high where your dog can’t get to it. 

Since essential oils are natural, many pet parents may prefer them over alternative treatments for a variety of health issues in their dog, including anxiety, skin problems, and flea and tick prevention.2 However, just because essential oils are a natural option doesn’t mean they are safe. Always talk to your vet before using lavender oil for dogs, whether diffusing them in the home or on your pet’s skin. 

Depending on your dog, some scents may not be safe for them, especially dogs with respiratory illnesses like allergies and asthma. Since dogs have a more powerful sense of smell than humans, any strong odors can irritate their respiratory system, causing coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Before you introduce a new scent to your home, talk to a vet. You never know how different scents can affect your pet. 

Are Diffusers Bad for Dogs?

Diffusers in and of themselves aren’t technically bad for dogs; what matters is the type of oil you use in them. Some essential oils are more dangerous to dogs than others. Essential oils you should never diffuse around dogs include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Yarrow
  • Garlic1

In general, there are two types of diffusers that are commonly used within the home. Passive diffusers are reed and heat diffusers that evaporate essential oils to emit their scent, while active diffusers disperse essential oils by spraying small particles in the air. Both types of diffusers can be problematic for pets, especially if you use oils that can irritate their respiratory tract. However, passive diffusers may be safer for pets because they don’t disperse essential oils through tiny droplets. 

When using an essential oil diffuser around your pet, consider the location. You should never diffuse essential oils near your pet or their food or toys. You should also properly ventilate your home and avoid using the diffuser in rooms your pet is more likely to spend time in. 

If you’re wondering about candles instead of diffusers, they can cause the same problems in pets. Additionally, dogs may eat candles when they’re not lit, which can cause them to ingest high amounts of essential oils. 

If you’re going to use diffusers or candles in your home, always keep them far away from your pet. Monitor your dog’s reaction to new scents and discontinue use if your dog seems to have difficulty breathing when these scents are in the air. Depending on your dog, you may not be able to use candles, diffusers, or even some cleaning products that can irritate their respiratory system. 

Of course, all dogs are different, so as long as you’re using your diffuser in a way that’s safe for your pet, your dog might not have a reaction to the scents. That being said, avoid putting essential oils directly on anything in your home because they’re not diluted, and your dog may want to learn about them by smelling or ingesting them, which can be dangerous to their health. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Consumes Lavender

Lavender is toxic to dogs, so if your dog consumes any amount of lavender, they should be examined by your vet as soon as possible. Lavender toxicity in pets is a medical emergency, so there’s no reason to risk it. However, if your pet has only consumed a small amount of lavender, you can monitor them for signs of illness. Remember that some serious symptoms can take days to appear, so you’ll need to monitor your dog over the next few days. 

Dogs typically require a large concentration of lavender for it to be toxic, but you may choose to give yourself peace of mind rather than waiting for symptoms to appear. Taking your dog to the vet is the only way to ensure they haven’t ingested a toxic amount of lavender, and it allows your vet to treat them as soon as possible. 

Keeping Your Dog Safe

Lavender can be toxic to dogs in all forms, including the plant and its essential oils. Whether you keep a plant inside or out or choose to diffuse lavender essential oil, you could be putting your dog in harm’s way. While lavender may help ease dog anxiety, you should never use lavender oil on or around your pet without the guidance of a vet. 

In most cases, lavender does more harm than good for pets, as there are better, safer alternatives for treatment. The only surefire way to prevent lavender toxicity in dogs is to avoid lavender altogether, which means getting rid of lavender plants and essential oils in your home. 

Talk to a Dutch vet if you’re looking for a safe treatment for your pet, whether it’s to alleviate anxiety or pain. Our licensed vets can help you find the right treatment for your pet to keep them safe and healthy. Dutch vets are available 24/7 to answer your dog-related questions, enabling pet parents to find the solutions they need to help their pets live happier, healthier lives. 

References

  1. “Which Essential Oils Are Toxic for Pets?: Michelson Found Animals.” Michelson Found Animals Foundation, https://www.foundanimals.org/essential-oils-toxic-pets/.

  2. Burke, Anna. “Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs? There Are Quite a Few Risks Involved.” American Kennel Club, 21 Sept. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/are-essential-oils-safe-for-dogs/.