Lavender is touted for its therapeutic benefits, including everything from helping to improve sleep quality to reducing anxiety and more. But is it safe for dogs? Yes, and no.
This herb is a member of the mint family. Native to Mediterranean countries, today you can find lavender worldwide, including in many herb gardens.
Lavender is popular for its essential oils, and humans use the dried flowers for baths, soaps, and more.
Let’s take a look at what to consider when it comes to lavender and your pup, though.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Is lavender safe for dogs?
- Benefits of lavender for dogs
- Ways to use lavender on dogs
- Is lavender safe for cats?
Is lavender safe for dogs?
Well, that depends.
While some plants are safe for dogs, lavender’s safety profile is a little harder to define. It depends on how it’s used and the volume that your dog is exposed to.
The lavender plant contains a compound called linalool, and linalool is toxic to dogs and cats. But the linalool concentration in lavender is low, and dogs need to consume a relatively high concentration to reach toxic levels.
However, your dog can absolutely be poisoned if they eat large amounts of lavender flowers or lavender essential oils. Ingesting too much linalool can lead to lavender poisoning symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, and sedation. Dogs can also experience seizures.
To be safe, avoid feeding your dog lavender.
If you choose to use lavender essential oils around your dog, dilute the oils. Essential oils that are too concentrated can cause lavender poisoning and skin irritation. Some dogs can have allergic reactions to essential oils, including symptoms like a rash, itchy skin, hives, sneezing, a runny nose, and red eyes.
It’s even safer to avoid using essential oils entirely, and instead use one of the methods outlined below.
Benefits of lavender for dogs
Keep in mind that the holistic benefits of lavender in dogs are yet to be proven, and should always be used as a supplement to vet-recommended treatments.
Many holistic publications and websites note that lavender has many benefits for dogs.
- It may act as a bug repellent, helping to keep away pesky fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes
- Lavender has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties that can help to relieve joint pain and swelling
- It may help to calm anxiety and ease motion sickness in dogs
- Lavender also helps your dog to get better quality sleep
There are limited studies about the effects of lavender on dogs, but some are out there. A 2006 study noted that lavender may help to reduce travel-induced excitement in dogs. According to the study, dogs exposed to the smell of lavender spent more time resting and sitting and less time moving around and barking than they did when not exposed to the lavender smell.
A 2009 study found that when lavender oil was topically applied to dogs’ inner ears, it appeared to correlate with a lower average heart rate compared to when the dogs weren’t treated with topical lavender oil.
Ways to use lavender on dogs
While you should never feed your dog lavender, there are several ways that you can safely use lavender on your dog.
Lavender essential oils (diluted)
You should only use diluted lavender oil, and you shouldn’t ever put lavender essential oils directly on your dog. Even a few drops of essential oil can be irritating, so never use essential oils directly on your dog’s skin, and don’t let your dog eat these oils, either.
Instead, put a diluted oil into an oil diffuser so that your dog (and everyone else in the house) can enjoy the aromatherapy benefits. Diffusing the lavender essential oils can be a good way to promote relaxation in your dog and to support quality sleep.
Lavender shampoos created for dogs contain lavender in a concentration that’s safe for them. Not only do these shampoos cleanse your dog’s coat and leave your friend smelling great, but the lavender scent can help to relax them (especially useful for the pups who don’t love bathtime).
Lavender deodorizing spray is a convenient way to freshen up your dog in between bathtimes, while enjoying the calming scent of lavender. You’ll also find lavender calming sprays that you can spray on your dog, onto your dog’s bedding, or into their crate.
These sprays are a helpful way to create a calming effect when you know your dog is going to encounter a stressful situation.
Is lavender safe for cats?
Just like the linalool in lavender is toxic to dogs in large concentrations, it’s toxic to cats, too.
Cats should never ingest lavender, and like dogs, cats can experience lavender toxicity. Keep in mind that cats are often much smaller than dogs, so smaller amounts of lavender can be toxic to your cat.
Before we go…
While it can be tempting to share the many benefits of lavender with your dog, it’s important to understand that too much lavender can potentially be toxic to your dog, too.
There are ways to safely use lavender around your dog, including using lavender shampoos and sprays made for dogs. With caution, you can use diffuse lavender oils to promote sleep and relaxation while keeping your pet safe. If you have any questions about using lavender around your dog, it’s best to consult with your vet.
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