Is Lemon Essential Oil Safe For Dogs? (No, it’s Not)

Lemon essential oils offer various health benefits for humans primarily because of their natural components. The chemical substance soothes the nerves and relieves various bodily issues in humans. However, just because lemon essential oil is natural and safe for humans it does not mean that it is safe for dogs.

So let’s get straight into this and find out if it is safe to use lemon essential oil around dogs.

A photo of a bottle of lemon essential oil with 2 cut up lemons in the background
Lemon essential oil is very popular but did you know it is highly toxic to your pet dog?

Is lemon essential oil safe for dogs?

Absolutely not, lemon essential oil or any citrus essential oil is not safe for dogs. Unlike the human body system, your dog can’t metabolize citrus essential oils the way you would. Lemon essential oils are highly concentrated and poisonous if ingested by dogs. It is also toxic to them when breathed in as a vapour from an electric diffuser.

Apart from this, dogs have a more sensitive sense of smell. By implication, a few drops in a diffuser can poison your dog. Since dogs lick their paws and other parts of their skin, they will ultimately ingest the oil, and could result in poisoning. The lemon essential oil will metabolize in your dog’s liver and cause poisoning and toxicity. Because of this, it could progress and cause liver damage or failure.  

Almost every expert agrees with the fact that citrus essential oils are highly toxic for dogs. However, there are arguments about whether drops or small doses of lemon oil are probably safe for dogs. People sometimes argue that lemon essential oil can stimulate immune function. But if we agree that citrus essential oil is non-negotiable for dogs, how can lemon essential oil be beneficial? Remember, lemon is a type of citrus fruit.

How is lemon essential oil made? Quick guide.

As the name implies, lemon essential oils contain lemon as their primary ingredient. Manufacturers or makers extract lemon oil from the peel of fresh lemon through either cold-pressing or steam extraction.

The cold-pressing method

  • Select the lemon and rinse it thoroughly under running water. You can also scrub the lemon with a vegetable brush or coarse sponge to remove harmful pesticides. After washing, dry the lemon with paper towels or rags.
  • Use a vegetable peeler or knife to remove the skin. Peel the lemon skin and separate it from the fruit pulp. You can use the pulp as lemon juice or any other recipe later. Peel the skin in long strips and ensure it does not contain any bitter white pith. You only need the yellow portion to make lemon oil.
  • If you are unable to peel it to satisfaction, grate the lemon peel in a container. However, you can skip using the grater if the peel is fine enough.
  • Put the peel into a jar or container with an air-tight lid that can hold up to 16 fluid ounces. Then, fill the container with one cup of olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond, or grapeseed oil. Let the oil cover the peel. Then, screw the lid and shake the solution.
  • Place the jar in a dry place for one to two weeks. Shake once every day to allow the natural lemon oil to infuse with the other oil you have included in the jar. The sunlight heat, although minimal, will help infuse the oils.
  • Strain the oil in a separate bowl to separate the infused oil from the peels.
  • Store the lemon oil in a cool, and dark place.

The steaming method

  • Like you did for the cold method, wash and peel the lemon. You only need the yellow portion.
  • Fill a pot halfway with water until it boils and turn the temperature to its lowest setting on your stove or boiler.
  • Put the lemon peel in a bowl and pour coconut oil over it. Then, place the bowl into the pot of hot water and let it simmer for about three hours.
  • Alternatively, place the peel into a pot, pour coconut oil over it, and heat the pot. Let it simmer for about five minutes, then allow it to cool. Cover the pot with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  • This process will extract natural oil from the lemon peel and mix it with the coconut oil.• Strain the oil into a jar and store.  

Is lemon essential oil toxic to dogs? 

Lemon essential oil is toxic to dogs. If your dog has ingested lemon oil, see a veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will most likely administer activated charcoal and gastric lavage to purge the stomach.

They will also need to wash the fur to prevent dermal exposure if your dog was exposed to lemon essential oil through diffuser vapour. In extreme cases, the vet may need to perform an aggressive treatment to reduce the chances of high-level toxicity from occurring.

After treatment, the recovery will depend on the level of toxicity and amount ingested. But we recommend you keep lemon oil locked away in a safe place away from your dog.

What symptoms and illnesses can lemon essential oil cause in dogs?

Citrus oil that contains linalool and d-limonene contains increased toxicity to dogs with liver disease. Although many are marketed as safe, some symptoms your pet will suffer from include:

  • Weakness, trembling and drooling
  • Depression, low blood pressure, hypothermia
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis
  • Walking difficulty, muscle tremors, pawing at the mouth or face
  • Redness of the skin, tongue, and face

Is a small amount of lemon essential oil safe for dogs to be around?

It only takes a small amount of lemon essential oil to harm your dog. primarily, your pet’s exposure and level of lemon oil determine the significance of the risk. For example, older dogs have a higher sensitivity to lemon oil, especially at concentrated levels. It can cause seizures, comas, and even death – the more reason why essential oil is not safe for dogs to be around.


Although some essential oils are safe for dogs and used around dogs, some like lemon essential oil are toxic to dogs. Lemon essential oil is toxic whether it is used in diffusers, applied to the skin, or licked from a spill. Remember, natural does not mean it is always safe. Therefore, don’t let the desire for a natural way to improve your pet’s health and happiness push you to use lemon essential oil. It is simply toxic, and there are no two ways about it.

Andrew Scents and Aroma