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Essential Oils for Fleas on Dogs: Are They Safe to Use?

This is not medical advice. For medical advice regarding pets, see your veterinarian.

The safety of essential oils in pets has not been studied, but some can be used to eliminate fleas. Most essential oils are considered toxic to pets. Always dilute the essential oil before use. If you notice any symptoms of intoxication, contact your vet as soon as possible.

Fleas and ticks are present all year round, especially in summer. They can multiply fast, instantly becoming a problem because they can reach your home or family from your dog or cat, from parks, gardens, or forests.

Fleas feed on blood and cause itching at the bite site. They can also transmit various diseases to your pets or family. Fleas become a problem when they enter your home because they spread quickly and are difficult to remove.

At present, many natural options can help you get rid of fleas, such as essential oils.

These are a topic of great interest as they are used more and more often for various things. As a pet owner, you need to know what essential oils can be toxic to your pet.

In this article, you will find out if essential oils are safe for pets, if you can use essential oils to treat fleas on your dog, what essential oils are good for dogs, and more.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic liquids with volatile components obtained from various parts of plants. They are used for massages, baths, lotions or creams, diffusers, and more. It is best to avoid essential oils of 100% concentration.

Pure essential oils are obtained by distilling various parts of a plant, such as fruits, leaves, roots, seeds, bark, peels, or resin. They have many beneficial effects on the body, thus offering a natural and safe solution.[1]

Diluting essential oils is extremely important and necessary when you apply them to the skin or inhale them.

What Are Essential Oils

When using essential oils topically, you should always administer low concentrations. To obtain low concentrations, mix the essential oil with a carrier base, such as vegetable oil, cream, or lotion. 

Adding essential oils to carrier bases will ensure a concentration of 1-2%. Follow the instructions on the label. Do not use more, as essential oils are very potent.[2]

If you want to use essential oils in a diffuser, add 3-5 drops per 100 ml of water or follow the instructions on the label.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

Not all essential oils are safe for dogs. Eucalyptus, cinnamon, ylang-ylang, tea tree, peppermint, pine, and citrus oil are considered toxic for pets no matter how they are used – directly on the skin, ingested, or used in diffusers.

Essential oils are becoming more and more popular in veterinary clinics, with many veterinarians recommending them to treat various conditions:

  • Hot spots
  • Skin allergies
  • Otitis
  • Fleas
  • Hyperactivity/anxiety

For bacterial otitis externa complicated by fungi in dogs and cats, studies have shown that chamomile, star anise, lavender, basil, and other essential oils, have helped with pets’ recovery.[3]

Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Dogs

Even if some of these oils are suitable for topical treatments in pets, you should pay attention to the possible side effects[4] they may have:

  • Photosensitivity to sunlight (commonly experienced when using citrus essential oils)
  • Dermatitis (commonly seen after exposure to lavender oil, peppermint, tea tree oil, or ylang-ylang)

Never treat your dog orally or topically with any concentration of essential oils unless advised to do so by your veterinarian. You risk intoxicating your dog, and the complications can be severe.

Can I Use Essential Oils to Treat Fleas on My Dog?

Although certain essential oils can help you treat fleas on your dog, it is best to use oils for repelling. Always use the lowest concentrations (maximum 2%) and test on a small area of skin before applying the oil all over your pet’s body.

Using essential oils against fleas is an effective alternative to expensive chemicals, tablets, collars, or sprays.

It is not only effective but also has many benefits:

  • You don’t have to fill your home with harsh chemicals that could harm your family and pets.
  • Natural treatment and essential oils are more affordable than other chemicals.
  • Instead of the lingering chemical odors, essential oils leave behind pleasant aromas, so you and your pet can relax.

Prevention is always a better solution, and using essential oil treatments is a good start.

To use essential oils for fleas, make a mixture of 6-7 drops of rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and citronella oil in a cup of water. Mix well. Before spraying the content on your dog’s fur, test on a small skin area to see if your pet is allergic. Apply the solution every two days.[5]

Can I Use Essential Oils to Treat Fleas on My Dog

Another method is to mix 15 drops of citronella essential oil with one tablespoon of carrier oil and then add this mixture to a textile collar. For sensitive skin, you should use only 6 citronella drops per ounce of carrier oil.

You can also add two drops of citronella essential oil to your dog’s regular shampoo.

It is important to create the lowest possible concentrations because dogs can become intoxicated if exposed directly or ingest essential oils.

To get rid of the fleas in your home, you can make a mixture of essential oils and water and mop the floors with it, spray it in corners, or spray it over your furniture. 

Repeat this process as essential oils do not kill flea eggs. You have to wait for them to hatch.

What Essential Oils Are Good for Fleas on Dogs?

Some essential oils such as citronella, lavender, lemongrass, thyme, basil, or cedarwood can help repel fleas from your dog. Dilute and test them on a small area of your dog to make sure your pet is not allergic.

Although essential oils have not been scientifically tested on animals to determine their safety and effectiveness, some are commonly used to kill and repel fleas.

Some of the oils most commonly used are:

  • Lavender
  • Citronella
  • Peppermint
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree
  • Basil
  • Rosemary

Lavender Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Lavender essential oil does not kill fleas but repels them. Create a mixture of a few drops of lavender oil and water and spray it on your dog’s fur. Do not apply it on its face and areas where your dog can lick it. 

This spray helps to repel fleas and leaves your pet’s fur with a pleasant scent.

Lavender Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Rosemary Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

This essential oil can irritate your pet’s skin more than other oils. You can use it on your dog’s textile collar or bedding. You can also add a few drops to your dog’s regular shampoo.

Another method is to add three drops of rosemary essential oil and six drops of lavender to a liter of water. Wash your pet with this mixture, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid your pet’s face and eyes.

Rosemary Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Citronella Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

This oil is very effective in repelling fleas and other pests. Citronella oil can be used on dogs, being considered non-toxic when used in small amounts. 

You can use citronella oil mixed with lavender, tea tree, peppermint, and lemongrass oil. Add about five drops of each oil and mix with a few drops of carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, or olive) and half a cup of water. 

Apply to your dog’s fur before going for a walk and on its collar.

Citronella Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Peppermint Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Peppermint oil can be toxic to dogs if it is too concentrated. Dilute a few drops of oil with apple cider vinegar and water and spray it on your dog’s fur.

Another method is to mix a few drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and massage the mixture well into your dog’s fur to keep fleas away and calm flea bites.

For home use, mix a quarter cup of peppermint oil with three cups of rubbing alcohol. Spray in areas with fleas. Pay close attention to the edges of the walls, dog bedding, and carpets. 

Keep your dog away from the mixture.

Peppermint Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Eucalyptus Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

To keep fleas away from your dog, mix about six drops of eucalyptus oil in a cup of water. Mix well and apply the solution to your dog’s fur 2-3 times a week. 

Avoid the head area, and do not let your pet ingest the solution.

Eucalyptus Oil

Lemongrass Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Lemongrass essential oil is similar to citronella oil. Add about five drops of lemongrass oil to a bowl of water. Mix well and apply the solution to your pet’s coat. 

Lemongrass oil also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Tea Tree Essential Oil for Fleas on Dogs

Tea tree oil products with a concentration of 0.1-1% is generally considered safe for pets. Dilute concentrated tea tree oil in 30 ml of carrier oil. Apply the mixture to your dog’s fur.

Tea tree oil can also kill yeast and soothe irritated and itching skin.

Related: Tea Tree Oil for Fleas on Dogs: Is It Safe for Your Pet?

What Is Tea Tree Oil

Can I Use DoTerra Essential Oils for Fleas on Dogs?

DoTerra is a brand that manufactures essential oils. It is a popular brand among dog owners to fight and repel fleas.

To get rid of fleas, add 2-4 drops of doTerra eucalyptus oil when washing your dog’s bedding.

You can also add two drops of lavender, two drops of lemongrass, and three drops of citronella oil to your dog’s shampoo. Wash your dog with this mixture regularly.

Essential Oil Toxicity to Pets

Dogs are much more sensitive to essential oils than humans. Undiluted essential oils are the most dangerous. They can be absorbed through the skin, mucous membranes, and the gastrointestinal tract, leading to intoxication. Essential oils should never be applied undiluted to the skin or administered orally.

The toxicity of essential oils has increased in recent years as dog owners want to treat their pets with the most natural products possible.

Essential oils can be very dangerous to pets, especially if they are used undiluted.

Pets become intoxicated with essential oils when they come in direct contact with the skin or are ingested. Be careful when using highly concentrated essential oils for yourself or at home and keep the oils away from your dog.

sick dog on vet clinic

Symptoms of Essential Oils Poisoning in Dogs

The most common essential oils that cause intoxication in dogs[6] are:

  • Melaleuca or tea tree oil
  • Pennyroyal
  • Winter oil
  • Pine tree

Signs of essential oil poisoning in dogs include:

  • Depression
  • Ataxia/uncoordinated gait
  • Paralysis of the hind legs
  • Vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Skin irritation

If left untreated, these poisonings can be fatal to your pet. Even with intensive treatment and care, symptoms can be present for several days.

If your dog shows symptoms of intoxication after applying essential oils, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Conclusion

Although no scientific studies have been conducted on the safety and effectiveness of essential oils in pets, some can be used to treat various conditions and get rid of fleas.

Essential oils should never be used undiluted on pets because they have toxic potential. You can use the essential oils diluted in mixtures on your dog’s fur, in its shampoo, in the house, or on your dog’s bedding.

If you think your dog has ingested essential oil, do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian.

Use essential oils cautiously and sparingly on pets, and if you notice any symptoms of intoxication, contact your veterinarian immediately.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.