Is Citronella Safe For Dogs?

Taking care of your dog can be intimidating—at least until you go through our blog. You need to know what can bug your pet during specific seasons. Citronella is one of the most prevalent plants used to deter mosquitos during summer.

While it is an incredible pest deterrent, citronella is not the safest plant for your dog. In short, your dog should not come into contact with this plant or its products. Here are a few insights to keep in mind.

What is Citronella?

The citronella plant is an inedible grass related to lemongrass. There are two common types of citronella: citronella grass and scented geranium. Citronella grass, also called mosquito grass, is grown in cold regions annually. In contrast, scented geranium has a citrus fragrance in its foliage—a scent that attracts mosquitoes and bugs.

Citronella is an excellent mosquito repellant, whether growing within your environment or applied to your skin. You can also rely on it to repel different bugs, including flies.

Most people are likely to confuse citronella for lemongrass, thanks to their similar smell and appearance. The main difference between these two plants is that while citronella has magenta base stems, lemongrass features green stems.

Citronella Products and Their Effects on Dogs


The citronella plant contains tannic acid and essential oils that can irritate the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. These naturally-occurring oils trigger vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. In extreme cases, citronella causes hypersalivation, rapid respiration, hyperthermia, shock, and cyanosis in dogs.

You’ll need to fence and gate your garden to prevent your dog from eating this plant. Yet, beyond the plants, be wary of the following citronella products.


Citronella candles emit fragrance in the room, leaving the room scented. However, these candles can cause gastrointestinal issues if your dog ingests them, acting as laxatives. Symptoms of GI irritation include vomiting, discomfort, and diarrhea. The condition worsens if your dog has breathing issues, including asthma.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are often dangerous to dogs. Significantly concentrated essential oils will likely cause more harm to your dog, exposing it to complex hydrocarbons and distilled chemicals that cause hypersalivation, hyperthermia, convulsions, and skin irritation.


Refrain from using citronella-based sprays if you have pets in the house. A high concentration of essential oils in the spray can cause skin irritation, rashes, and gastrointestinal complications. Reach out for medical help once you notice your dog has ingested any of these citronella products.

Top Alternatives to Citronella

While citronella is a powerful mosquito repellant, it is unsafe and unhealthy for your dog. Refrain from it. Various alternatives suffice in this case, including rosemary, basil, lemon balm, and catnip. These products contain minimal toxicity levels, guaranteeing fewer side effects in the long run.

Final Thoughts

The products you use in your home can affect your dog’s life quality. While citronella is an excellent mosquito repellant, it contains toxins that can substantially harm your dog. Ensure that you get medical help as soon as your dog consumes this product, regardless of the form.

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