Is lavendar safe for dogs?

Is Lavender Safe for Dogs? (Key Considerations)

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I’ve had two dogs that were happy to eat absolutely anything in the house. This is a stressful experience. It’s tough to know what is or isn’t OK for your dog to have eaten. You don’t want to be running to the vet for every little thing your dog does if its not necessary, but of course if there’s any question at all the absolute top priority is keeping your dog safe.

And knowing what is or isn’t OK for your dog to eat can help you design your house to be safer for your pets.

For all those reasons, this post is dedicated to helping you answer the question:

Is lavender safe for dogs?

We asked our veterinary advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg to offer some general tips for what to do when your pet gets into something they shouldn’t (or that you’re not sure about), and will give you all the information you need about lavender and your dog.

Is Lavender Safe for Dogs?

  No, the ASPCA classifies lavender as a toxic herb for several pets, including dogs.

That said, that mainly applies to ingestion (your cat eating or drinking lavender plant or oil) and there’s more nuance surrounding lavender and your dog that’s worth unpacking.

Many people like to add lavender to their homes, either in soaps and cleaners or in essential oils and candles. It can create a relaxing and soothing environment that can improve mood and sleep. For many dog owners, this begs the question: is lavender safe for dogs?

Lavender essential oils, soaps, and plants are popular in many homes, but they all contain linalool, a toxic compound for dogs and cats. For this reason, it is best to avoid feeding your dog lavender. 

While lavender poisoning is rare, you should be aware of the symptoms if you use lavender in your home. The most common symptoms of lavender poisoning are:

  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Stomach bloating
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you have lavender in your home and your dog exhibits these symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately. Fortunately, lavender poisoning is rare because linalool occurs in very small amounts.

Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Dogs?

Lavender oils are safe for dogs when used topically and in small amounts. Many safe pet care products also contain lavender essential oil, but the concentrations are diluted enough to be safe for dogs.

What is Lavender Oil?

Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils on the market today. It has a wide range of uses, from relaxation to skin care.

The oil is extracted from the lavender plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region. The plant has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties.

Lavender oil contains a compound called linalool, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Lavender oil is often used in aromatherapy and massage therapy. It can also be added to baths or diffused into the air to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Is Lavender Safe for Dogs’ Skin?

Yes, lavender is safe for pets if used externally. However, you should be cautious if your dog has a tendency to lick topicals that you use on them, as lavender can be toxic to dogs if consumed.

Is Lavender Plant Safe for Dogs?

It is safe to plant lavender where dogs will be roaming. Lavender plants only contain linalool in very small amounts, and a dog would have to eat a large amount of lavender to feel the effects. 

You should maintain caution while planting lavender around dogs primarily because the plant attracts bees which may sting your dog. 

Is Lavender Scent Safe for Dogs?

Yes, lavender scents are safe for dogs. In fact, many dog-safe products contain lavender scent because dogs, like humans, find it relaxing

Recent research suggests that owners can use lavender scents as a way of calming dogs’ travel anxiety. The study found that dogs were more likely to stay sitting or lying down and less likely to vocalize stress when exposed to the lavender scent. 

Is Lavender Extract Safe for Dogs?

Lavender extract contains concentrated amounts of lavender. Because of this, it also contains concentrated amounts of linalool. You should not give your dog lavender extract to eat, as the increased concentration of linalool may cause lavender poisoning in dogs.

This is a good video from pet rescue shelter owner Angela Ardolino on whether lavender oil is safe for dogs:

And this is a great video overview on how to think about essential oils and your dog generally from veterinarian Dr. Andrew Jones:

Tips from Our Vets

It is normal to be concerned whenever your dog or cat gets into something they should not have. Dogs particularly tend to eat things with little to no regard for edibility. Because so many things can be toxic to pets, even some that are perfectly safe for humans, it can be hard to know what to do. Here are three key steps to take first:

  1. The first thing you must do if your dog or cat ate or were exposed to something that they should not have is to determine how much of the substance they actually ingested.
  2. Save labels or take pictures so that you are able to show the ingredients to your pet’s veterinarian.
  3. Your veterinarian should be the first point of contact in the case of such an event. Call the nearest emergency veterinary hospital if it is outside of normal business hours.

Please follow the advice of your veterinarian. If your dog has ingested something toxic, they must immediately be taken to a hospital or clinic for treatment. If your veterinarian does not recommend seeing your pet right away, you should observe them carefully for any signs of illness. Things to be on the lookout for include:

  1. Vomiting – Your dog may vomit from simple gastrointestinal distress after eating something other than their dog or cat food. However, intractable or repeated vomiting can signal a toxin ingestion or another serious issue like gastric dilation volvulus. These conditions are life threatening and require emergency treatment right away.
  2. Lethargy – If your dog is acting oddly, or “not themselves,” it is a clue that the ingestion might be serious. Veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible.
  3. Hypersalivation – Excessive drooling may signal a toxin exposure or an injury to the mouth. It can also be a sign of nausea. If your dog or cat is in hypersalivation, you should reach out to their veterinarian.
  4. Weakness – If your dog or cat appears to be weak, is stumbling, or has difficulty walking, the likelihood of a toxin ingestion is higher. This is a sign that your dog requires veterinary care.
  5. Seizures – Twitching, rapid leg or eye movements, and convulsions are all signs that something is wrong. These abnormal movements may be due to a toxin or another issue that the dog is experiencing.
  6. Dribbling urine – Leaking urine is often seen in cases of marijuana toxicity. Dogs or cats exhibiting this sign should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic for treatment.

If you are unable to reach your veterinarian, a great resource for help is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. The APCC is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach them at (888) 426-4435. There is a one-time $75 fee for this service.

Final Thoughts: Is Giving a Dog Lavender Safe?

Lavender is safe to have in your home if you have dogs, but you should not feed it to them.

  • Lavender contains linalool in very small concentrations that are usually safe. 
  • To be on the safe side, only use lavender topically on dogs
  • Planting lavender where your dog plays is safe
  • Lavender essential oil is safe to use on dogs’ skin in small amounts
  • If a dog consumes too much lavender, it may experience constipation, vomiting, or diarrhea

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources

Our writing staff and team of veterinarians have dedicated a ton of time and energy to bringing you the best information possible about household products and food to help make sure your pets are safe.

You can check out our giant guide to human foods dogs can and can not eat, and we’ve created guides on whether over 40 human foods are safe for dogs to eat.

We’ve also created a series of posts on what household products are and aren’t safe for your pet, including:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.