Ultimate Guide to Treating Your Dog’s Dry Skin Problems with Essential Oils

With a decade of experience in fragrances, I know how essential oils can ease a dog’s dry, itchy skin. I’ve compiled a list of beneficial oils, preparation tips, and recipes for use. Plus, Dr. Anna Maria Wolf shares advice for treating pet skin issues.

Inside this Article:

Common Dog Skin Problems

Essential oils can alleviate many dog skin problems, such as allergies, parasites, inflammation, and hot spots. They can also soothe the effects of underlying health conditions such as Cushing’s, hypothyroidism, auto-immune disorders, and cancer.

Although essential oils will not cure major health conditions, they can help dogs undergoing treatments significantly. Dr. Anna Maria Wolf, a holistic veterinarian at www.petsynergy.com, suggests, “Use jojoba oil topically for dry skin, inflammation, and even hot spots. You can mix it with a natural shampoo base and apply it diluted with another carrier oil to hot spots and areas of inflammation. The oil can also help dry paws.”

Dr. Wolf recommends using frankincense oil for inflammation. She says, “Frankincense oil reputedly can have beneficial effects on tumors and is good to include in a topical essential oil blend.”

Best Essential Oils for Your Dog’s Skin Issues

Every dog tolerates essential oils differently, so pay close attention to their physical and emotional reactions. When picking which oils to use, consider your dog’s skin condition, other medications he may be taking, and what your vet says.

Essential Oils Recommended by a Dog’s Skin Condition

Skin ConditionOils Recommended
Hot Spots and Sores
  • Jojoba
  • Chamomile
  • Helichrysum
  • Niaouli
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Lavender
Allergies
  • Niaouli
  • Carrot seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
Inflammation
  • Jojoba
  • Frankincense
  • Chamomile
Parasites
  • Carrot seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Sweet orange
  • Rose
  • Helichrysum
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Lemongrass
Dry, Itchy Skin

(Pruritis)

  • Jojoba
  • Carrot seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Rose
  • Lavender
  • Coconut
  • Olive
Hair Loss
  • Frankincense
  • Cedarwood
No Problem Condition, but for a Beautiful Coat
  • Olive
  • Coconut
  • Fish

Are Essential Oils Good for a Dog’s Skin?

Essential oils provide a way to access the concentrated active ingredients found in plants. When used correctly, these ingredients can help a dog with sensitive skin. However, you should never put pure essential oils directly on your pet’s skin. You need to dilute the substance in either a carrier oil or in water.

The essential oils listed below have different active ingredients whose properties make them effective for treating your pet’s ailments.

Safe Essential Oils for Dogs

Safe Essential Oils for DogsWhat It DoesHow to Use
Carrot seed

(Daucus carota)

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Soothing to sensitive or dry, flaky skin
  • Moisturizes coat
  • When used as aromatherapy, it also stimulates circulation
Use with a carrier oil for topical application, or with a diffuser for inhalation.
Cedarwood

(Cedrus atlantica)

  • Repels insects
  • Soothes skin allergies, irritation, and dryness
  • As aromatherapy, acts as a deodorizer and insect repellent
Use with a light carrier oil for topical application, or with a diffuser for inhalation.
ChamomileFor topical use, brew into tea and use it as a skin rinse or spray. You can administer orally, and you may combine it with a saline solution in 1:3 solution for an eye rinse. Watch for potential allergies, including hives, rash, or itching. DO NOT give this product to cats.
  • Blue, German (Matricaria recutita)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Soothes skin allergies, burns, irritation, and eye inflammation
  • Roman (Anthemis nobilis)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-parasitic
Sweet Orange

(Citrus sinensis)

  • Repels insects
  • Deodorizes
For topical use, use when the oil is extremely diluted. For aromatherapy, use a few drops in a diffuser. DO NOT use around cats.
Rose

(Rosa damascena)  

  • Soothes itchy, irritated, or dry skin
  • Repels ticks
  • When diffused, it helps relieve anxiety
For topical treatment, mix 1-2 drops in a carrier oil. For aromatherapy, use a few drops in a diffuser.
Helichrysum

(Immortelle, Everlasting)

(Helichrysum italicum)

  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Supports healing and boosts blood flow
For topical use, combine a few drops in a carrier oil.
Niaouli

(Gomenol)

(Melaleuca viridiflora)

  • Use as a substitute for tea tree oil
  • Antihistamine
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Antiseptic
  • You may use it for ear infections and to soothe allergic skin reaction
Dilute with cooled boiled water to rinse skin irritations and wounds. Add a few drops in a light carrier oil and rub over the dog’s coat or skin.
Sweet Marjoram

(Origanum marjorana)

  • A substitute for tea tree oil
  • Anti-bacterial,
  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Can help heal wounds
  • Repels insects
Use a few drops with a carrier oil topically.
Lavender

(Lavandula angustifolia)

  • Anti-bacterial
  • Dog anxiety
  • Soothes itchy skin
Use with a carrier oil for topical application, or with a diffuser for inhalation.  DO NOT use on or around cats.
Lemongrass oil
  • Insect repellent
Use a tiny amount (2-3 drops) in a water spray bottle. Not for ingestion.

Learn more about essential oils for pet aromatherapy.

Carrier Oils and Dietary Supplements

Carrier oils, which you can also administer as dietary supplements, help deliver active ingredients safely and effectively. Carrier oils also have healing properties that pet owners should consider when mixing with essential oils.

Safe Carrier Oils for Dogs

Safe Carrier Oils for DogsWhat It DoesHow to Use
Coconut oil

(Cocos nucifera)

  • Topically: It helps with dry, flaky skin and a dull coat
  • Internally: In small quantities, it aids digestion and skin issues
Massage into skin or onto coat for topical application. Mix with essential oils. When applying internally, start with 1/4 teaspoon daily (that amount can build in larger dogs), mixed into meals. Discontinue if diarrhea results. Avoid giving to obese dogs.
Neem oil

(Azadirachta indica)

  • Insect repellent
  • Pesticide
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Topical skin treatment for allergies, dry spots, and wounds
  • Not for internal use
Mix with essential oils or add to shampoo (1 teaspoon oil:2 tablespoons shampoo), or make it into a spray by dilute in a 1:10 ratio of neem oil to water. DO NOT apply to open wounds.
Jojoba oil

(Simmondsia chinensis)

  • Fungicide
  • Moisturizes skin when applied topically
  • Not for internal use
For topical use, massage directly into the skin. Combine with essential oils. May be added to shampoos. It is an excellent base for essential oil aromatherapy.
Avocado oil

(Persea Gratissima)

  • Coat and skin moisturizer
  • Aid in digestive health
As a carrier oil for essential oils. Add small quantities in meals for digestive health. Discontinue use if side effects of vomiting or diarrhea appear.
Olive oil

(Olea europaea L)

  • Internally for dry skin
  • Digestive system stimulant
Not for topical application. Apply to food daily (1/2 teaspoon for small dogs to 1.5 teaspoons for large dogs). Discontinue if side effects (diarrhea or vomiting) appear. You can use it as a carrier oil.

Dietary supplements can sometimes act as carrier oils, but they may also be whole foods that work medicinally. Dr. World advises on the topic of dietary supplements, “I highly recommend oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as krill oil, anchovy and sardine oils, and salmon. I usually keep salmon at the bottom of my recommendations because of concerns around contamination from mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants. I’m also concerned about the sustainability of salmon and larger fish species. Krill oil is the best oil absorbed and has additional nutritional benefits and health boosts.”

When added to meals, these types of fish oils are excellent for heart health, skin, coat, joint pain, and the immune system. The dosage for the oil is 20-55mg of combined EPA and DHA per pound of body weight. Always discontinue in case of side effects, such as oily coat, diarrhea, excess fatigue, or slow wound healing. Talk to your vet before adding to your pet’s diet.

Dr. Wolf also recommends, “Sea minerals like kelp, dulse [seaweed], and chlorella probiotics  help ensure healthy gastrointestinal bacteria.” Other internal supplements to consider are omega-3 and B vitamins.

How to Use Essential Oils on Dogs

With the right choice of oil for their ailment and appropriate dilution, most dogs tolerate essential oils well. You can also diffuse many of the approved essential oils safely and feed your dog some dietary supplements.

The general rule when combining essential oils and carrier oils is to mix one teaspoon of carrier oil with three to five drops of essential oil. Overall daily dosage for your dog depends on their size. When starting to feed dietary supplements, give no more than a ½ teaspoon for every ten pounds of dog, daily. Even large dogs should start with minimal dosage to determine how well they will tolerate the supplement and if there are side effects.

Dr. Wolf advises that when choosing oils, “Avoid any synthetic ingredients and use high-grade essential and carrier oils—preferably ones that are human-grade.”

The ways to deliver the essential oils to your dog include:

  • Applying to His Collar: For essential oils whose purpose is aromatherapy or insect repellent, you can place a drop of it on your dog’s collar.
  • Within a Carrier Oil and Applied Directly: For essential oils meant to soothe skin problems or muscle soreness, combine the essential oil with a carrier oil and apply it to the affected area.
  • Diluted in Water and Sprayed on or Rinsed Over: For some essential oils that repel pests, you can dilute them with water and mist them over your dog’s coat or use them in a rinse. Chamomile lends itself well to a rinse.
  • Directly into His Food: You can add some dietary supplements and some carrier oils directly into your dog’s food to reap their benefits. This method is especially useful when the problem is gastrointestinal. Some skin problems, such as extreme dryness, are also better treated this way systemically.
  • In Shampoo: Since you rinse off shampoo, it’s an excellent way to give your dog’s skin the benefit of essential oil without the risk of bad consequences. Some shampoos include oatmeal, coconut, and aloe, which are soothing for a dog’s skin, and adding essential oils augment these beneficial effects.
  • Diffused: Many essential oils have properties than make them extremely effective at combating your dog’s stress and anxiety. Rose and lavender are good diffuser choices that are dog safe (and are good for you too!). Learn more information on relieving anxiety in your dog.

If you’re new to using essential oils with your pet, try slowly introducing your dog to the scent of new essential oils. Some dogs tolerate certain smells poorly because they are initially overwhelming. If your dog is skittish, waft the scent in his area a few times a day before applying to them.

Video Title: How To Apply Essential Oil Skin Conditioner with Sunscreen for Dogs

Purchase this essential oil skin conditioner. 

Home Remedy to Improve Your Dog’s Dry Skin and Coat

Target your dog’s dry skin and lank coat with your dog’s favorite essential oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. Massage this mixture into your dog’s skin for its topical benefits and to help reduce his anxiety.

Home Remedy to Calm Your Dog’s Irritated Skin

Treat your dog’s irritated skin topically with a combination of essential oils that target pests and provides lubrication and relief. After combining the ingredients, gently rub them into the affected areas on your dog’s body.

Precautions when Using Essential Oils

Taking proper precautions when using essential oils on or around your pet is critical, so they don’t have harmful side effects. Precautions include researching each essential oil you plan to use, communicating with your vet, and using the right ingredients.

When choosing oils, don’t buy synthetic or impure ones. These oils can have contaminants that could cause serious health consequences in your dog. Get therapeutic grade oils from reputable sources. Your vet may be able to recommend distributors or brands they trust and can verify the purity.

In preparing your mixture, dilute the essential oils appropriately. Remember that, although natural substances, essential oils are a highly concentrated form of the plant or tree. For example, it takes about 250 pounds of the lavender flower to make one pound of lavender essential oil. Take into account the size of your dog when dosing them and err on the side of less.

Essential oils on their own can cause burns to sensitive skin, eyes, and genitals, which can be painful and exacerbate existing skin problems. Consuming essential oils undiluted can cause poisoning or gastrointestinal upset. Sensitive animals can also develop a skin or immune system allergic reaction to the oils.

After administering the essential oil, watch your dog and see if he has an adverse reaction. If applied topically, you can use soap and water to remove the oil. Start with a low dosage if you are giving it to him in his food and don’t use it for more than two weeks to reduce the chance of him developing sensitivity or organ toxicity.

Essential Oils Toxic to Dogs

Some essential oils are toxic to pets, such as tea tree, birch, bitter almond, peppermint, garlic, and clove. Toxicity in dogs can be acute, with apparent effects happening right away, or it can build up over time in their internal organs.

Dr. Wolf advises, “Avoid tea tree (Melaleuca), pennyroyal, wintergreen, and pine oils for dogs. In general, hydrosols are safer too, and topical use is safer than diffusing.” Hydrosols are aromatic waters that are less concentrated than essential oils.

Essential Oils Toxic in DogsSigns of Toxicity
Birch

(Betula lenta)

This oil has toxic amounts of methyl salicylate, causing severe ulcers, kidney failure, and seizures. The smell of xylitol released in this oil causes secondary poisoning.
Bitter almond

(Prunus dulcis)

Side effects include sleepiness.
Peppermint

(Mentha x piperita)

It causes skin irritation, vomiting, and lethargy. It does not kill fleas.
Garlic

(Allium sativum)

It causes intestinal distress, symptoms of anemia, and an elevated heart rate.
Clove

(Syzygium aromaticum)

The eugenol in clove oil is toxic in dogs, causing liver failure.
Wintergreen

(Gaultheria procumbens)

Toxicity symptoms include vomiting, ulcers, and renal and liver failure.
Pine

(Pinus sylvestris)

Often used in household cleaners, it can cause acute or chronic poisoning even in small amounts.

Vet Recommended Natural Dog Skin Conditioner

When your pet suffers from uncomfortable dry, inflamed, or irritated skin all you want to do is soothe their pain. That’s when applying an all-natural skin conditioner can help that’s already perfectly balanced. Not only will it help moisturize their dry skin, but our product is also a dog-safe sunscreen that provides the equivalent of SPF 30 UV blockage.

Veterinarians recommend our line of natural skin care for pets because we never use any hard chemicals or elements like benzone that can cause allergic reactions and endocrine issues. Instead, we use enriching oils such as lavender and neem for their ability to heal burns on noses and soothe redness on thinner coats. Our Vitamin & Essential Oil Sunscreen and Skin Conditioner for Dogs is completely lick-safe because we use 100 percent natural ingredients.

Learn more about our line of soothing and relaxing pet aromatherapy grooming products.

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