Is Citronella Safe for Dogs?

As the temperatures start to rise, we all have to start thinking about how to keep our furry friends cool. While many people swear by using citronella candles and spray to ward off mosquitoes, is it safe for dogs?

Read on as we take a look at the pros and cons of using citronella as a mosquito repellent. We also share 5 homemade citronella alternatives that are safe for dogs and safety tips for using it around your pup.

So, is citronella safe for dogs? Let’s find out.

But first…

What Is Citronella?

Citronella is a type of grass that is native to Sri Lanka and Java. The oil from this grass is used in many different mosquito repellents, as well as candles, soaps, lotions, and even some dog shampoos.

Citronella oil is a natural mosquito repellent because it contains compounds like citronellol and geraniol, which mask the scent of carbon dioxide that attracts mosquitoes.

When used in small amounts, citronella oil is safe for dogs. In fact, many dog shampoos and flea collars contain citronella oil as an active ingredient.

Is Citronella Safe for Dogs?

While citronella is generally considered safe for use around dogs, there are some potential risks that pet owners should be aware of.

The most common concern with using citronella products around dogs is the potential for skin irritation. Citronella oil can be an irritant to the skin and eyes, so it is important to use it only as directed and avoid contact with the dog’s face or open wounds.

If you are using a citronella collar or spray, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Another potential risk of using citronella products around dogs is the possibility that they could ingest the oil. Citronella oil is not toxic if ingested in small amounts, but it can cause gastrointestinal upset if swallowed in large quantities.

Is Citronella Plant Safe for Dogs?

The citronella plant (Cymbopogon nardus) is a type of grass that is native to Sri Lanka and India. The plant produces an oil that has a strong, lemon-like scent. This oil is commonly used as an ingredient in insect repellents, scented candles, and potpourri.

citronella grass

The citronella plant is safe for dogs if used as directed. However, the plant can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms of citronella toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. 

If you suspect your dog has eaten a citronella plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Is Citronella Oil Safe for Dogs?

Citronella oil is safe for dogs if used as directed. However, the oil can be an irritant to a dog’s skin and eyes, so it’s important to use it sparingly and only in areas where your dog can’t reach to lick it off.

If ingested, citronella oil can cause an upset stomach in dogs. This is typically not a serious problem and will go away on its own, but if your dog seems to be in pain or is vomiting, contact your veterinarian right away.

Is Citronella Candles Safe for Dogs?

Citronella candles are safe for dogs as long as they are used in a well-ventilated area. It’s important to keep the candle out of reach of your dog, as he may be tempted to knock it over or paw at it.

Is Citronella Spray Safe for Dogs?

Citronella spray is safe for dogs, but should only be used in small doses. If you use too much, it can irritate your dog’s skin and eyes. Citronella spray is also flammable, so keep it away from any open flames.

As with any product, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before using citronella oil or any other essential oils on your dog.

Citronella Effects on Dogs

While citronella is nontoxic to dogs, it can cause skin irritation. If your dog has sensitive skin, you should avoid using products containing citronella. In addition, citronella candles and diffusers may not be safe for use around dogs.

While citronella is generally considered safe for dogs, some dogs may experience skin irritation from products containing citronella oil.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s safety, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian before using any products containing citronella oil.

Citronella candles and diffusers may also pose a risk to dogs. When used indoors, these products can release small amounts of citronella oil into the air. Inhaling citronella oil can cause respiratory irritation in dogs.

If you’re using a citronella candle or diffuser in your home, it’s important to keep your dog out of the room where it’s being used.

In addition, citronella oil should never be applied directly to your dog’s skin. Doing so can cause irritation and even burns. If you’re using a product containing citronella oil, make sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid harming your dog.

5 Citronella Alternatives as Mosquito Repellant

If you’re looking for a natural way to repel mosquitoes and other insects, there are a number of safe and effective options available.

citronella oil in a bottle and leaves

Here are 5 of our favorites:

#1 – Homemade Bug Spray

You can make your own bug spray using a variety of natural ingredients, such as essential oils, apple cider vinegar, and witch hazel. This homemade bug spray is safe for dogs and humans, and it’s very effective at repelling insects.

#2 – Mint

Mint oil is a natural insect repellent that can be used on both humans and dogs. Mint oil can be applied directly to the skin, or it can be added to a diffuser or spray bottle. You can buy or make your own mint oil mosquito repellent.

#3 – Rosemary

Rosemary oil is another natural mosquito repellent that is safe for both humans and dogs. In fact, rosemary oil has been used as a mosquito repellent for centuries.

To use rosemary oil as a mosquito repellent, simply add a few drops to your dog’s collar or rub it onto their skin. You can also try diffusing rosemary oil in your home to keep mosquitoes away.

If you don’t have rosemary oil on hand, you can also try using fresh rosemary leaves. Simply rub the leaves on your dog’s skin or place them in their collar.

#4 – Basil

Basil oil is another great mosquito repellent for dogs. Not only does it smell great, but it’s also effective at keeping mosquitoes away. Try adding a few drops of basil oil to your dog’s coat before heading outside.

You can also add a drop or two to their collar for extra protection.

#5 – Garlic

Yes, garlic is safe for dogs and can be used as a mosquito repellent. Garlic contains allicin, which is a compound that’s known to repel mosquitoes.

You can either add garlic to your dog’s food or create a mosquito repellent spray using garlic oil. To make the spray, simply mix garlic oil with water and put it in a spray bottle.

Then, just spray your dog down before taking them outside.

Safety Tips When Using Citronella

As with any product, you should always read the label carefully and follow the directions when using citronella on your dog. You should also test a small area of your dog’s skin before applying it to their coat to ensure they are not allergic to the oil.

citronella oil in a spray bottle

When using citronella products on dogs, it is important to avoid getting the oil in their eyes, nose, or mouth. If you are using a spray, be sure to hold the canister away from your dog’s face when applying it to their coat.

You should also avoid spraying citronella directly on your dog’s face or in their eyes.

Citronella oil is safe for dogs when used as directed. However, if your dog ingests the oil, it can cause stomach upset.

Citronella products are a safe and effective way to repel mosquitoes and other pests from your dog. However, it is important to use them as directed.

Our Readers Favorite Questions

What Will Citronella Do to a Dog?

Citronella is commonly used in dog shampoos and collars as a way to repel fleas and ticks. It’s also used in some natural mosquito repellents.

When used topically, it’s safe for dogs in small quantities. It can be irritating to a dog’s eyes and skin, so it’s important to use it sparingly and avoid getting it into your dog’s eyes.

Do Dogs Hate the Smell of Citronella?

Some dogs may dislike the smell of citronella, but it’s not known to be harmful to them. If you’re using a citronella-based product on your dog, make sure to keep it out of their reach so they can’t lick it off and ingest it.


Generally speaking, citronella oil is safe for dogs when used in small amounts. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before using it on or around your pup.

Make sure to avoid getting it in their eyes, and don’t use it more than necessary to avoid irritating their skin. Also, be sure to keep any products containing citronella out of reach of your dog so they can’t lick it off and ingest it.

When used correctly, there is no doubt citronella can be a helpful tool in keeping your dog pest-free!

As always, if you have any concerns about using citronella oil on your dog, talk to your veterinarian first

Have you ever used citronella oil on your dog? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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