My Dog Licked Citronella Oil: What Should I Do Now?

My dog licked citronella oil. You must be frustrated. I understand. Licking citronella oil might seem harmless, but it can pose risks for dogs.

In today’s post, I will share why your furry friend does it, the effects of citronella oil ingestion, my experience in handling the situation, and tips to ensure your pet’s well-being.

Overall About Citronella Oil

my dog licked citronella oil

Citronella oil, or citronella geraniums oil, is a natural extract derived from the true citronella plants.

It is known for its strong scent, which repels uninvited guests like mosquitoes and other insects.

This essential oil is commonly used in products like safe mosquito repellent (bug spray form), candles, and lotions.

These wide range citronella products aim to keep bugs away and provide protection during outdoor activities of your pooches.

Additionally, citronella oil is sometimes used in aromatherapy to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere for your dogs.

With its bug-repelling properties, citronella oil is a popular ingredient in various products that help keep pesky insects at bay.

If you use citronella oil for dogs, it will shoo ticks & fleas away from your furry friend. It is often found in pet products like flea and tick sprays, shampoos, and collars. 

The scent of citronella oil helps repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes from dogs, protecting them from these bothersome pests.

My Dog Licked Citronella Oil – Why?  

If your dog licks citronella oil, it might be because of curiosity, aversion to the smell, taste or texture attraction, boredom, anxiety, and associative behavior.


Canines are naturally curious creatures, exploring their environment through their senses, including taste.

When encountering something new, like citronella oil, their curiosity may lead them to lick it to investigate further or understand the unfamiliar scent and taste.

Whenever I bring out a bottle of citronella oil or use a product with that scent, my dog immediately becomes intrigued.

He would approach it cautiously and try to take a few licks to explore its taste and scent.

Aversion To The Smell

Some dogs have a strong sense of smell, and certain scents, like citronella oil, can be overpowering.

If they find the smell unpleasant or overwhelming, they may lick the oil in an attempt to remove or alleviate the scent from their fur or surroundings.

Attractive Taste or Texture 

Your furry friends have unique preferences when it comes to taste and texture.

Citronella oil may have a flavor or consistency that appeals to your dog, prompting them to lick it for sensory satisfaction or enjoyment.

Boredom or Anxiety

Dogs may engage in licking behaviors when they feel bored or anxious. Licking can be a self-soothing mechanism for them, providing comfort and relieving stress.

If your dog is restless or anxious, they tend to lick objects, including citronella oil, to cope with their emotions.

Associative Behavior

Dogs are known to associate certain smells or experiences with specific outcomes.

If your dog has encountered citronella oil before and had a positive or negative experience, it may lick it as a learned behavior.

Is Citronella Oil Safe For Dogs?

citronella oil for dogs

Short answer: No, licking, smelling, or ingesting citronella oil can be potentially unsafe for dogs.

Possible outcomes include digestive upset, skin irritation or allergic reactions, respiratory distress, central nervous system effects, and toxicity.

Digestive Upset

Is citronella harmful to dogs? Well, it is a firm yes, as I just shared with you.

When canines come into contact with citronella oil, gastrointestinal distress is likely to follow.

It means that their digestive system may become irritated, resulting in various symptoms, like vomiting or diarrhea.

Additionally, they may experience an upset stomach or stomach irritation. Behaviors such as lying down or assuming a curled-up position are also displayed.

Digestive upset can range from mild to severe depending on the amount of citronella oil consumed and the individual dog’s sensitivity.

Irritation or Allergic Reactions

Dogs’ skin or other body parts may become red, itchy, or inflamed. They may scratch, lick, or bite at the affected areas to relieve the discomfort.

In my case, my dog scratches his ears at night, and that is when I know his allergy.

Besides, allergic reactions can vary in severity, ranging from mild irritation to more severe symptoms like swelling, breathing issues, or hypersalivation.

So, dog parents should pay attention to any abnormal behavior of their pets.

Respiratory Distress

What happens if dogs smell citronella? Citronella smell can trigger various reactions.

Some dogs may be unaffected by the smell, while others may show aversion or discomfort.

Smelling citronella alone is not typically linked with significant medical issues, but prolonged exposure to a strong scent may lead to mild respiratory irritation or discomfort for sensitive individuals.

Even worse, respiratory distress, characterized by labored breathing, is on the horizon.

I saw my dog breathing heavily through its nose, wheezing, and gasping for air after he sniffed the essential oil for hours.

Central Nervous System Effects

The central nervous system controls various bodily functions and behaviors.

If a dog ingests or inhales a significant amount of citronella oil, it can interfere with the central nervous system.

These effects may manifest as lethargy, confusion, dizziness, tremors, or seizures.


What happens if my dog licked oil? Toxicity! Citronella oil can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities.

Ingesting significant amounts of citronella oil can lead to various health problems, such as organ damage: liver damage, lung damage, nervous system damage, and even kidney damage.

What To Do If Your Dog Licks Citronella Oil? 

Assess the Situation

Take a moment to evaluate the situation. Consider the amount ingested, the dog’s size, and any visible symptoms or distress.

Contact A Veterinarian

They can provide professional advice based on your dog’s situation and recommend the necessary steps to ensure your dog’s well-being.

Also, you can consider calling the Animal Poison Control or other institutions for emergency situations.

Observe Your Dog

Keep a close eye on your pet for any unusual behavior or symptoms. Look for signs of digestive upset, respiratory issues, or changes in behavior.

Note any details that can help the veterinarian assess the situation.

Do Not Induce Vomiting

Unless directed by a veterinarian, avoid inducing vomiting in your canine companion. Certain substances, including citronella oil, may be more harmful if regurgitated.

Follow the veterinarian’s advice for appropriate actions.

Provide Fresh Water

Offer your dog fresh water to drink. It can help dilute any potential effects of the citronella oil and keep them hydrated. Ensure the water is clean and accessible to your dog.

Follow Veterinarian’s Advice

Listen carefully to the veterinarian’s recommendations. They may advise monitoring your dog, seeking further medical evaluation, or providing specific care instructions.

Following their advice will help ensure the best possible care for your furry friend.

Extended periods of rest are essential for proper recovery after the event, so be patient.

How To Prevent Dogs from Accessing Citronella Oil? 

can dogs be around citronella candles

Store Securely

Keep citronella oil and any products containing it in a secure location that is out of your dog’s reach.

Store them in cabinets, high shelves, or locked areas to prevent accidental access or ingestion.

Close Supervision

When using citronella oil or products around your dog, monitor it closely to intervene promptly if your dog shows interest in the oil and prevents them from accessing it.

Use Pet-Friendly Alternatives

Consider using pet-friendly alternatives to citronella oil, such as natural insect/animal repellents specifically formulated for dogs.

These alternatives can provide similar benefits without the potential risks associated with citronella oil.

Proper Disposal

Dispose of empty containers or unused citronella oil properly.

Ensure they are securely sealed and placed in designated trash bins or recycling containers to prevent dogs from licking the remaining.


Pet-proof your living spaces by removing or securing any potential sources of citronella oil.

Remember that dogs can be curious and resourceful, so inspect your surroundings for hazards.


Train your dog to avoid certain areas or objects where citronella oil may be present.

Use positive reinforcement techniques to reinforce good behavior and redirect their attention away from potentially harmful substances.

Distract and Engage

Provide your dog with lots of toys, playtime, and activities to keep them entertained and active.

It helps distract them from temptations like citronella oil and keeps them engaged in positive behaviors. You can find these toys easily at a lot of pet stores.


Is Citronella Safe for Dogs (Smell & Eat)?

No. Breathing in a large amount of citronella, particularly in concentrated forms or in close proximity, can potentially lead to respiratory distress in dogs.

Besides, citronella oil consumption is dangerous.

What To Do If My Dog Ate Citronella Plant?

Contact a veterinarian immediately. Provide them with detailed information about the situation, including the quantity ingested and any observed symptoms.

The veterinarian can guide you on whether further action is needed, such as inducing vomiting or monitoring your dog for potential complications.

Does Citronella Oil Stop Dogs From Barking?

Yes, citronella oil is commonly used in anti-barking devices, such as citronella collar to help deter dogs from excessive barking.

When a dog barks, these devices emit a citronella spray to distract and discourage the dog from barking.


My dog licked citronella oil. Is it okay? In short, it is not safe for your 4-legs companion.

It is potentially toxic to dogs, even in dog shampoo, citronella sprays, or any other products. You should always put them away from your pet’s reach or access.

If your dog licks citronella oil, observe them closely and seek professional advice once any unusual symptoms occur. Your vigilance and care are key to your pet’s safety.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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