Many people have questions about neem oil for dogs. Is neem oil is toxic to dogs? Can neem oil be used for dogs? How effective is neem oil for dogs?
We’re going to answer all of these, and more, today!
What Is Neem Oil?
Neem oil is a naturally occurring, yellow to brown colored oil extracted from the neem tree.
Despite its unpleasant odor—a combination of garlic and sulfur—and bitter taste, Neem oil has been used for centuries.
Often as part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, along with other parts of the neem tree.
Neem oil is most commonly used as a pesticide and bug repellent but is also a common ingredient in natural skin care products.
So what does Neem oil do for dogs?
Well, more or less the same thing it does for humans. Neem oil for dogs is primarily used to repel fleas and other parasites and to treat insect bites and skin conditions like mange.
Although less common, Neem oil for dogs is also used as a dietary supplement to support their overall health.
Is Neem Oil Safe for Dogs?
Over the past several years, there has been a trend towards natural products. However, natural doesn’t always necessarily mean safe.
Arsenic and poison ivy are both natural, but I wouldn’t apply them to my body!
So is neem oil safe for dogs?
According to one study, 200 mg of neem oil per kg of body weight is toxic to dogs.
Whether administered orally, intravenously or using intramuscular methods, even 100 mg per kg of body weight can cause significant damage to your dog’s kidneys.
Safe doses of neem oil for dogs
Therefore, diluting neem oil is recommended to ensure safe dosages.
Neem oil for dogs should be mixed with a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil, at a 1:10 ratio.
The oil solution can then be mixed with shampoo or with water to create a spray.
Neem oil should make up no more than 1 percent of the final product.
Diluting neem oil also has the added benefit of making the harsh smell easier to tolerate.
Even so, neem oil should only ever be used topically.
Ingesting neem oil, especially undiluted, increases the risk of severe or even deadly side effects and increases the risk of interactions with other drugs.
Knowing something is safe to use is great, but you don’t want to waste your time with neem oil treatments if they aren’t actually helpful. So just how effective is neem oil for Dogs?
Neem Oil for Fleas and Other Parasites
Many alternative medicine practitioners claim neem oil can effectively be used to treat fleas on dogs as an alternative to traditional parasite preventatives.
And neem oil has been shown to be somewhat effective in treating and repelling fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks.
But it’s not nearly as effective as commercial parasite treatments and preventatives.
Treatment with neem oil only led to a 12 percent reduction in fleas according to one study, and the effect was only shown to last for one week.
Neem oil is even less effective on ticks, killing only 4 percent.
Mosquitoes are the exception, with neem oil killing all mosquitoes exposed to it in one study, even at a 0.2 percent dilution.
Neem oil has been shown to be effective in eliminating intestinal parasites like the tapeworm.
Neem oil for dogs is not an ideal anti parasitic
But because of the possible dangers associated with the ingestion of neem oil, it should only be used if recommended by a veterinarian and only in safe dosages.
With all this in mind, neem oil is not recommended as the sole antiparasitic for dogs.
However, if you’re looking for an extra level of protection, particularly in mosquito heavy areas, neem oil can be safely used in conjunction with proven commercial antiparasitics.
Neem Oil for Mange and Other Skin Conditions
Neem oil has been cited as a treatment for mange, ringworm, hot spots, skin inflammation, scabies, ulcers, and itchiness in dogs.
Research has largely confirmed these claims, particularly when neem oil is combined with other treatments.
For example, one study found that neem oil and lavender oil in equal parts combined with ten parts almond oil and applied to the affected area daily is effective in healing mange.
Another study found that neem oil combined with other essential oils, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamin E leads to significant improvements in canine atopic dermatitis.
Additional research has found that neem oil alone also improves atopic dermatitis.
However, neem oil should not be applied to open wounds as it can cause irritation and inflammation and impair healing.
Neem Oil for Dogs Overall Health
Neem oil is purported to promote liver function, purify the blood, and support a healthy immune system when used as a dietary supplement.
However, because neem oil is not safe for ingestion in dogs, it cannot be safely used for these purposes. Neem oil should never be used as a dietary supplement for dogs.
Side Effects of Neem Oil for Dogs
Like any other treatment, there is a risk of allergic reaction when using neem oil for dogs. Skin irritation, especially if left on the skin for more than 24 hours, can also occur.
Be sure to patch test neem oil on a small, healthy area of skin to check for irritation before applying to larger areas or areas with a skin condition.
If your dog experiences any type of discomfort after being exposed to neem oil, discontinue use and consult a veterinarian immediately.
This includes appetite changes, excessive salivation, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems, convulsions, or any other signs of distress.
How to Treat Dogs with Neem Oil
Neem oil shampoo for dogs and neem oil spray for dogs are both commercially produced and available for purchase at pet stores and other retailers.
However, they are not well regulated, so creating your own is the best way to ensure that you’re giving your dog a safe dosage.
Neem Oil Shampoo for Dogs
To make neem oil shampoo for dogs, you can simply mix one part of the 1:10 neem oil and carrier oil solution, discussed above, with ten parts of any dog shampoo you already use.
However, never mix neem oil with medicated shampoos and do not mix undiluted neem oil with any shampoo.
Neem Oil Spray for Dogs
To make neem oil spray for dogs, mix one part of the neem oil and carrier oil solution with ten parts water.
Since oil and water don’t mix, you may need to add a couple drops of detergent—dog shampoo works nicely.
Some Final Thoughts on Neem Oil for Dogs
Neem oil, even applied topically, can interact with insulin, other diabetes medications, and thyroid hormone supplements.
Do not use neem oil on your dog if they’re already being treated with one of these medications.
Always use neem oil under the supervision of a veterinarian, and disclose all medications and supplements, even natural or herbal ones, to your dog’s vet.
This will help ensure the neem oil will not interact with any medication or supplements your dog may be taking already.
Whereas neem oil can be effective in some situations, you should always consult with a vet before using any alternative treatments on your pooch.
Modern treatments have, in most cases, been more thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness than alternative medicines.
In general, it’s best to only use alternative medicines like neem oil if it has been recommended by your dog’s vet.
Has your dog’s vet recommended neem oil? Have you ever used neem oil for your dog? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
References and Further Reading
Benelli G. et al. 2015. Larvicidal and ovideterrent properties of neem oil and fractions against the filariasis vector Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae): a bioactivity survey across production sites. Parasitology Research.
Blaskovic M et al. 2014. The effect of a spot-on formulation containing polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential oils on dogs with atopic dermatitis. The Veterinary Journal.
Brahmachari G. 2004. Neem—An Omnipotent Plant: A Retrospection. ChemBioChem.
García-Montes Y et al. 2017. Efecto del extracto de hoja de neem (Azadirachta indica) para control de ectoparasitos en perros. Revista Científica de la Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias.
Halos L et al. 2014. Flea control failure? Myths and realities. Trends in Parasitology.
Joshi S. 2012. A study of the effect of neem oil on clinical signs of canine atopy. Ancient Science of Life.
Mulla MS and Tianyun S. 1999. Activity and biological effects of neem products against arthropods of medical and veterinary importance. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association.
Raina R et al. 2018. Medicinal Plants and their Role in Wound Healing. Online Veterinary Journal.
Singh SK et al. 2011. An Update on Therapeutic Management of Canine Demodicosis. Veterinary World.