Is Lavender Safe for Dogs?
Even if you’re not fully integrated into the essential oils trend, you may already be well versed in the soothing, calming powers that lavender can have on people. Numerous scientific studies have even been conducted to test these claims, such as this one, which conclude that there’s evidence for the “relaxing effect of inhaling lavender oil.” Lavender oil, and the plant itself, can even be safely ingested by humans to achieve similar calming effects.
The question we’re addressing today is whether it’s safe to administer lavender — in all its forms — to our canine friends and if the same benefits even apply. Here’s what you need to know.
Is Lavender Safe for Dogs?
The answer to this question is unfortunately not a simple as a straight yes or no. Lavender, the plant, does contain a small amount of a compound called linalool, which is toxic to both dogs and cats. The linalool is found in such small concentrations, however, that this is rarely an issue. Problems arise only if a dog ingests a very large quantity of lavender.
Symptoms of lavender poisoning may include vomiting, inability to defecate, a swollen and tender abdomen, reduced appetite, and fever. If you suspect your dog has been poisoned by lavender, you should consult your veterinarian immediately to begin treatment. Treatment varies, but can include the administration of IV fluid to efficiently flush out their system, supplemental oxygen, and antihistamines.
Therapeutic Uses of Lavender Essential Oil for Dogs
A handful of products and websites claim that lavender essential oil — when inhaled by your dog rather than ingested — can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Some suggest adding a few drops of the oil to your dog’s collar or in their bedding, or simply diffuse the scent throughout your home.
While the scientific literature on this is still pretty scarce, a few scientific studies have concluded that lavender aromatherapy may, indeed, help dogs relax. For example, this study from 2006 states that “dogs spent significantly more time resting and sitting and less time moving and vocalizing” when exposed to the scent. This study from 2005 reported similar findings.
At the end of the day, mild exposure to lavender aromatherapy will not hurt your dog, and it may even provide positive effects. That said, it’s possible that other treatments may be more effective if your dog struggles with anxiety or restlessness on an ongoing basis, and it’s worth talking to your vet about which options are available to you. Also, your dog should not have direct access to the oil itself and should not ingest it.
While lavender is generally considered safe for your pup, it still doesn’t earn a full-blown stamp of approval. It is important to keep an eye on your dog if he or she has access to fresh lavender outside, and to consult your veterinarian immediately if you spot any signs of poisoning.
Giving your dog lavender essential oil to ingest isn’t recommended, but aromatherapy may prove helpful. If you feel your dog needs to be treated for anxiety or stress, bear in mind that other treatments may be more effective over the long term. Speak to your veterinarian about what’s available and follow their recommendations.