Is Lemon Essential Oil Safe for Dogs? A Vet Weighs In! (2024)

Three bottles of lemon essential oil surrounded by lemons and lemon peels.

Many people use essential oils in their homes and on their own bodies to treat illnesses and health issues. You may be wondering if you can use them on your dogs as well.

While some essential oils are safe to use around dogs, there are others, such as lemon essential oil, that may be toxic to dogs.

Is lemon essential oil safe for dogs? Citrus oils can be extremely toxic to dogs. Citrus essential oils contain linalool and d-limonene. If dogs ingest these oils, they may experience liver problems, vomiting, and in severe cases, liver failure.

If you use lemon essential oil and are wondering if it is safe to use on or around your dog, read on to learn more about how lemons essential oil can affect your dog’s health. 

Lemon Essential Oil and Dogs – What To Know

Lemon essential oil is a type of citrus oil that contains linalool and d-limonene, which have insecticide properties. If ingested by dogs, it can affect their digestive tracts and livers.

Lemon Essential Oil Uses

Lemon essential oil has many uses. It is often added to drinks to improve the flavor or added to cleaning products to provide a fresh scent.

It can be added to infusers to spread the oil and odor around the home, and some people use it to treat skin disorders.

Lemon essential oil can also be added to flea and tick treatments. In most cases, the essential oil is diluted to make it less potent. 

Is Lemon Essential Oil Toxic to Dogs?

Lemon essential oil contains ingredients that can be toxic to dogs. Linalool and d-limonene can cause liver damage and even liver failure.

It can also cause digestive issues and skin rashes if it is applied to the skin.

Risks of Using Lemon Essential Oil on Dogs

Although lemon essential oil can be toxic to dogs if ingested, there are some pet owners who believe it is safe to use topically in their cleaning products or even to infuse it around dogs.

If you are going to use lemon essential oil, make sure you are aware of these risks: 

  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Liver disease
  • Nose irritation

Is There a Safe Way To Use Lemon Essential Oil on Dogs?

There is no way to use lemon essential oils on dogs that is 100% safe. If you insist on using it, you should dilute it and only use it in very small amounts.

The more you use and higher the concentration, the more likely it is to make your dog sick or affect it negatively. 

We Asked a Vet… Here’s Their Response

After researching the issue, we though it would be best to consult an expert. We spoke with the team at Antioch Animal Hospital to get their opinion.

We were informed that lemon essential is in no way recommended for use on dogs, either orally or topically. The risks are simply too great.

The vet recommended that in the case of accidental exposure, you should do three things right away:

  • Contact Animal Poison Control (1- 888- 426-4435), and explain the specific situation.
  • Do not allow the dog to lick or ingest any of the oil.
  • Wash the dog thoroughly using Dawn dish soap, and rinse repeatedly.

Why Citrus Oils Are Not Recommended for Dogs

Citrus oils can easily be ingested by dogs even if they are not offered orally.

If infused or used in cleaning products, it could still be absorbed into the skin or inhaled through the mouth and nose.

Citrus oils contain linalool and d-limonene, which are toxic to dogs and can cause liver damage and even liver failure. 

Is Diffusing Lemon Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?

Diffusing lemon essential oil is not recommended around dogs. The oils can travel through the air where they can be inhaled by dogs.

The oils can also land on fabrics and surfaces that dogs come in contact with and be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. 

Toxic Essential Oils for Dogs

There are many different types of essential oils that are considered toxic to dogs. It’s a good idea to know which types of essential oils are toxic so you can avoid using them around your dogs.

  • Cinnamon
  • Yarrow
  • Citrus
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Wintergreen 
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Anise
  • Juniper
  • Clove
  • Thyme

Signs of Essential Oil Toxicity in Dogs

A dog that is feeling sick rests his head on his owner's lap.

If your dog is only exposed to a small amount of essential oils, he or she may not have a toxic reaction.

If they are exposed to a high amount or are exposed over a long period of time, they may have a reaction. Here are some signs of essential oil toxicity in dogs:

  • Skin irritation
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Paralysis
  • Weakness

What Essential Oils Are Safe for Dogs?

While many essential oils are toxic for dogs, there are some that are safe to use on or around them.

  • Angelica Root
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cardamom
  • Basil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cypress
  • Black Pepper
  • Cajeput
  • Caraway
  • Chamomile
  • Cistus
  • Citronella
  • Coriander
  • Bergamot
  • Elemi

What Is the Best Way To Use Essential Oils on Dogs?

The best way to use essential oils on dogs is as a topical treatment. The oils should be diluted with water ir a carrier oil and then massaged into the body.

They should not be used around the eyes, mouth or nose.

Related Questions: 

Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs To Smell?

If your dog smells an essential oil for a short time, it likely won’t harm the dog. Some essential oils are safe to use around dogs, but others can be toxic if inhaled through the mouth or nose.

Always make sure the essential oils you plan to use on or around your dog are not toxic to canines or other pets. 

Is Orange Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?

Orange essential oil is a type of citrus essential oil, and it is not safe for dogs. Citrus oils contain linalool and d-limonene, which can be toxic to dogs and even cause liver failure.


If you use essential oils in your home or are thinking about using them on or around your dog, be sure to do your research to find out which types of essential oils are safe for dogs and which ones are toxic.

Although essential oils may be natural, it doesn’t mean dogs can tolerate them. If you have questions about using a specific essential oil on or around your dog, consult your veterinarian to find out if it’s safe.