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Oregano Oil for Dogs: Benefits, Usage & Side Effects (Vet Answer)

Written by: Dr. Emma Chandley BVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on April 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

A bottle of oregano essential oil with fresh oregano leaves

Oregano Oil for Dogs: Benefits, Usage & Side Effects (Vet Answer)


Dr. Emma Chandley  Photo


Dr. Emma Chandley

BVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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In recent years, oregano oil has become more and more popular for use in humans. It is believed to have immune supportive and antimicrobial properties. This gives the essential oil a wide variety of different uses for humans.

Lots of owners want to use more natural remedies for their dogs and this has led to owners using oregano oil for their dogs too. This article will explore the usage and possible benefits of oregano oil for dogs.

Important: Dog owners should bear in mind that some essential oils can be toxic to dogs. Care must always be taken when using them around the home. It is always advised to speak to your vet before you start using any sort of essential oil in any way for your dog.

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What Is Oregano Oil?

Oregano oil, also known as oil of oregano, is an essential oil that is extracted from the flowering tops and the leaves of the oregano plant, Origanum vulgare. It is believed to contain many active compounds which give it medicinal properties.

It is extracted through steam distillation or solvent extraction methods. Two main types exist. Oregano oil extract is a diluted form that can be used orally in humans, and oregano essential oil is a concentrated form for aromatherapy or external use.

More research is needed on the subject, but it is believed that oregano oil can be used for pain relief, to fight infections, manage tricky skin conditions, and aid in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system. It is also used as a flavoring in cooking and can be included in home-cooked recipes.

Essential oil bottle of oregano herb with fresh oregano leaves
Image Credit: catalina.m, Shutterstock

Potential Uses

Properties and potential uses of oregano oil for dogs include:
  • Antimicrobial: It has been suggested that oregano oil has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties meaning it could potentially aid in fighting conditions such as ear and skin infections.1
  • Antioxidants: Oregano oil contains thymol and carvacrol. These are potent antioxidants that are believed to protect cells from free radical damage.2 Carvacrol is thought to support beneficial gut bacteria and fight harmful organisms in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Anti-inflammatory: There have been suggestions that some compounds in oregano oil have anti-inflammatory properties. They may aid in pain relief and the reduction of inflammation. This may give dogs suffering from allergies and other conditions some relief.

Oregano oil must be stored correctly to maintain its potency and prevent it from going bad. It is advised to store it at room temperature. It must be kept in a dark glass bottle, away from direct sunlight. Glass is preferable over plastic as plastics can leak chemicals into the oils. An airtight lid should always be used. A bottle with a screw cap and a dropper is ideal as this prevents leakage and minimizes air exposure. It must be kept in a cool dark place away from heat sources such as radiators. Do not store in humid rooms such as the bathroom.

It is possible to refrigerate oregano oil. This is thought to extend its shelf life, however, it will need to be taken from the fridge at least 12 hours before usage. This is to allow for it to heat up, so it is the right consistency to dispense. Always keep all essential oils well away from children and animals.

dog taking CBD oil
Image Credit: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

How Is Oregano Oil Given?

Oregano oil comes as an essential oil extract. It can be sold in a concentrated form. The concentration varies massively and can be from 2% to 50%. It can be bought as liquid drops; these are often mixed with carrier oils such as coconut oil or olive oil. Some companies make it into tablets or capsules.

In humans, oregano oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied topically. It can be given orally in a highly diluted form, and it can be diffused. Before considering any of the above methods, you must discuss safe and effective therapies with your vet.

Even if the essential oil has been diluted, it is still vital that only veterinary-recommended doses are used, based on your dog’s general health condition and weight.

What Happens If You Miss a Dose?

If you miss a dose of oregano oil, give the correct dose as soon as you remember. If it is close to the next scheduled dose, you can skip the missed dose and give the next one as planned. If you have any concerns about missed doses, consult your vet. It is never advised to give extra doses or double doses in any circumstance.

weimaraner dog checked by vet
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Potential Side Effects of Oregano Oil

As with all essential oils, there are potential side effects owners need to be aware of.

Even if the oil has been correctly diluted and the dose prescribed by a vet, some dogs can still experience adverse effects.

These can include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin irritation
  • Allergies

If you see any of the clinical signs mentioned or have any other concerns that your dog may be having a reaction, consult your vet immediately. Stop the use of the oil while you wait to hear from your vet.

There is a risk that oregano oil may interact with specific medications, this is why it is so important to discuss usage with your vet before starting it. If your dog has pre-existing health conditions this may also mean the use of oregano oil is contraindicated.

Undiluted oregano oil can be toxic for dogs. It can cause skin irritation and internal organ damage. It must never be used in an undiluted form.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which dogs should avoid oregano oil?

Dogs that have pre-existing health conditions, are already on medication, have a history of seizures, or are very young puppies or elderly dogs, should not be using oregano oil. It should be avoided in pregnant and nursing dogs as well.

dachshund dog looks sick lying on its owner
Image Credit: Leka Sergeeva, Shutterstock

Should I buy pure or diluted oregano oil?

Oregano oil in its pure form is very concentrated and has strong flavors. It is usually sold mixed with a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. Pure oregano oil is often better value for money but then needs to be diluted.

Is oregano oil organic?

Oregano oil can be sold in organic and non-organic forms. Good quality brands use organic oil. This will be obvious on the packaging but if you are unsure, you can ask the manufacturer.

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Oregano oil has potentially promising health benefits for humans. However, there is limited research on the effectiveness and safety of the oil on dogs. It currently has no proven benefits, meaning there is no scientific evidence supporting its safety or effectiveness for treating any canine health issues.

Use must be with extreme caution and only ever under the instruction of your vet. Responsible use with proper guidance is important to avoid potentially catastrophic adverse effects.

Featured Image Credit: Madeleine Steinbach, Shutterstock

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