Citronella Poisonous To Dogs

If you live in an area prone to mosquitoes, you know what a nuisance they can be. But mosquitos can be more than just annoying; they can be harmful to your health and even deadly, especially to pets. Without taking a preventative medication, your dog can get diseases like heartworm and West Nile virus from those mosquitos. But what if you forget to give a dose of your preventative or give it a couple of days late? In those situations, your dog will need extra protection. And if you’re spending any time outdoors with your dog, you’ll also need something to keep mosquitos at bay — preferably something natural. Citronella has long been considered a natural mosquito repellant, but just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it is safe. In fact, citronella can be toxic to pets.

If you typically rely on citronella to safeguard your family from mosquitos, you can still use it responsibly, but there are things you should know in order to keep your dog safe. You may also want to consider some natural alternatives to citronella. Here’s what you should know about keeping your dog safe around citronella and ways to get rid of the bloodsuckers altogether.

Citronella is toxic to pets

Citronella candles and oils are a popular mosquito repellent, but the citronella plant is toxic to pets. Use caution when using citronella products around your pet, and make sure they don’t have access to any citronella plants in your garden.

When we say “citronella,” were referring to two different plants: citronella grass (from the Cymbopogon species) and a scented geranium (Pelargonium citrosum) thats known as a mosquito plant or as a citrosa geranium. Citronella oils come from the grass; the geranium has a citronella-type smell but does not actually contain citronella oils. Researchers have found that the essential oils and extracts from the grass are effective in keeping mosquitoes away, thus making citronella a popular repellent.

Citronella grass has naturally occurring oils that can be used to keep pests away. But when it comes to the efficacy of the plant, it doesnt actually do much to deter mosquitoes. This is because you need a higher concentration of citronella oil than the plants alone can offer. (One plant that is effective? Lemongrass! But youll want to keep this away from your pets, too, because its also toxic.)

Essential oils are complicated—and dangerous—when it comes to our pets. Whether an essential oil is safe to use anywhere near (or on) our dogs depends on whether its diluted and has an extremely low concentration of oils. Always avoid using 100-percent concentrated oils around your pet.

Aah, the smell of summer. Citronella candles have been widely advertised as a seasonal essential to prevent bloodthirsty mosquitoes from getting anywhere near you or your pooch. However, studies show citronella candles dont give much protection due to their low concentration of … well, citronella.

What makes essential oils potentially harmful to dogs is their different toxic properties and the severity of risks that come with using them. Matejka explains, “Citronella essential oils have a low acute toxicity, but if ingested or absorbed topically in large amounts, it can potentially cause vomiting, hypersalivation, hyperthermia, rapid respirations, convulsions, cyanosis, and/or shock. When applied topically, it can also cause skin irritation or rash.”

Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Or Touch Citronella Plants Or Products

Citronella Poisonous To Dogs

While citronella products might smell like a tasty lemon treat to you, do not let your dog eat, lick, or get too close to a citronella plant or product.

All three categories of the “citronella confusion” cloud listed above — citronella-scented geraniums; true citronella grass; and lemongrass, potentially — are toxic if your dog eats them.

Citronella-scented geraniums and citronella oil can also cause a rash or skin irritation on your dog.

Many citronella products don’t have much citronella in them. It’s unusual for candles to be even 5 percent citronella oil. However, there’s nothing good for your dog in that candle; the parts that aren’t citronella are not edible, either.

While citronella naturally deters cats, it doesn’t seem to always have the same effect on dogs. Dogs don’t seem particularly attracted to it either, but it does smell lemony. So if you have a curious dog, be sure to keep these products out of reach.


Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow, and mosquitos hate it. Planting it in some pots around your patio or deck will help repel mosquitos so you don’t have to use citronella. Plus, the pots will ensure the mint stays contained without spreading to other areas of your yard.


What will citronella do to a dog?

This could result in your pup having abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. And although a small amount shouldn’t cause any issues if ingested, she says, it’s important to make sure your dog isn’t eating the plant. If too much citronella is ingested, your dog may experience: Vomiting.

Is it okay for dogs to inhale citronella?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists citronella candles as poisonous to dogs because citronella candles can lead to stomach cramping when ingested by animals who are attracted to their smell. When pets inhale the smoke from citronella candles, it can cause breathing issues.

What happens if a dog eats a citronella candle?

Some candles contain chemicals or essential oils that can be harmful to dogs. Fortunately, most have a low enough concentration of these that they will not make dogs sick after eating them. However, if your dog eats a large amount, he may develop vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of illness.