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Is Lemon Essential Oil Safe for Dogs? Vet-Approved Health Facts

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

lemon essential oil

Is Lemon Essential Oil Safe for Dogs? Vet-Approved Health Facts


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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You’ve probably noticed the surge in the use of essential oils in the past decade or so. You might even use essential oils yourself! Though essential oils have been around for ages, they’ve become more popular recently due to society’s shift to a more holistic lifestyle. But are essential oils safe for our pets?

There’s no strong evidence that essential oils are useful in treating our dogs and cats for anxiety, stress, and other ailments. And when it comes to dogs, some essential oils are downright toxic. Lemon essential oil is part of these since is potentially toxic. Why is lemon essential oil toxic to canines? Here’s what you should know.

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What Are Essential Oils?

If you’ve missed out on the essential oil craze, you might be wondering what exactly essential oils are1. Essentially, essential oils are the parts of a plant that make it taste and smell the way it does. The oils from plants are extracted through distillation or cold pressing, which results in the essential oils we use in our homes.

And there are many ways you can incorporate essential oils into your life. You can use them in diffusers as aromatherapy or use the oils as homeopathic remedies. You can even use essential oils as a natural insecticide. The majority of the time, though, essential oils are used in diffusers to make the home smell better.

lemon essential oil
Image Credit: AmyLv, Shutterstock

Lemon Essential Oil & Dogs

As mentioned above, lemon essential oil is toxic to our canine friends, but why? After all, essential oils are derived from plants, so they’re natural, which means they should be safe, right? Wrong! Just because something is natural, it doesn’t always mean it’s safe for your pup.

And when it comes to your dog, lemon essential oil is absolutely not safe2. The reason for that is that citrus essential oils contain the compounds d-limonene and linalool. Both of these things have insecticidal properties, so they’re often used as all-natural flea and tick treatments or in insect repellent products. But these compounds can cause issues with the liver in canines, including liver failure.

You might be thinking that this oil is only toxic if your pet ingests it, so if you put it on the skin, it will be fine. Also incorrect. Not only is there a good chance your dog will end up licking itself at some point, ingesting the oil, but citrus oils are absorbed quite quickly through the skin as well. So, either way, this oil is getting into your pup’s bloodstream, where it can cause damage. (Plus, undiluted lemon essential oil on the skin can cause major irritation!)

Lemon essential oil and lemon fruits
Image Credit: Nikolay Litov, Shutterstock

Essential Oil Poisoning

So, if your dog has been around essential oils like lemon essential oil, how will you know if it’s been adversely affected? There are several signs that will appear that will let you know your pet is suffering from essential oil poisoning.

These include:
  • Gait that is uncoordinated
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Excessive drooling
  • Irritation or burns on the skin, tongue, mouth, etc.

If you believe your pup is experiencing essential oil poisoning, you should get them to your vet immediately for treatment. The sooner your dog is treated, the better the chances it will be alright.

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Final Thoughts

Lemon essential oil is toxic to our canine companions, so you want to avoid using it on or around your pet. In general, essential oils aren’t the safest for our animals (and may not offer much benefit anyway), so if you’re considering using them for your dog, always speak to your vet first to ensure your pet’s safety. If your dog ingests lemon essential oil, it could lead to essential oil poisoning and liver problems, including liver failure, so if you notice any signs of essential oil poisoning, you’ll want to take your pet to your vet as soon as possible!


Featured Image Credit: DariaHurst34, Pixabay

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