Susan prefers to use natural ingredients whenever possible. Buy natural! It
is usually cheaper, easier, and greener.
Neem oil: a miracle solution?
Neem Oil for Skin Issues in Dogs
My dog suffers from food allergies and her symptoms manifest as dermatitis. It
took me a bit of time to discover neem oil, but I am pleased with the way this
remedy helps my dog. In this article, I answer some common questions about the
oil and talk about how it can benefit your dog and how to use it safely.
What Is Neem Oil?
The neem tree is a tropical tree that originated in India. The Indian people
have used various parts of this tree for thousands of years, and they use the
leaves, bark, and seeds for a wide range of ailments. Neem oil is produced
from the seed kernels of the neem tree; the kernels are crushed and pressed
(in a similar way to olives), and the extracted oil is purified. Natural, raw
neem oil has a strong smell. It is quite unique and smells to me like burnt
garlic with a hint of coffee and onion.
My Dog’s Food and Skin Allergies
My dog has food allergies, so we feed her home-cooked meals and treats, which
stop her from getting sore patches on her skin. Unfortunately, she spends all
her time trying to steal the very food she is allergic to—bread, biscuits,
cake, etc. This means that from time to time, she manages to get a bellyful of
food when we have not paid full attention!
After about 48 hours, the scratching starts, the fur comes out and she gets
utterly miserable. This is how I discovered that neem oil helps to relieve
some of her symptoms.
Important: Neem oil should NOT be consumed by animals or humans. Neem
leaves may be consumed by humans, but this is a different part of the tree
altogether, so do not confuse the two.
Properly dilute neem oil before use.
Neem Oil for Dogs
For dogs that have itchy skin due to food allergies, insect bites, mild mange,
or really dry patches, neem oil can work wonders. It is also good for ‘hot’
feet and chaffed ‘underarms’. The oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial,
antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory qualities and is widely used on humans and
animals by those who prefer to use Ayurvedic treatments. It is used as an
insect repellent and a natural pesticide on plants as well.
Always dilute neem oil with a pet-safe carrier oil before use.
Lavender can be incorporated into the oil to mask its strong odor.
How to Use Neem Oil
- Carrier oils: To help dogs with irritated skin and hair loss, neem oil should be diluted in another carrier oil such as pure coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil.
- Dilution: Raw neem oil is very potent, so dilute a few drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil. My dog is fine with a 50:50 mix, but I began with a more diluted mix and built up the concentration over time.
- Storage: Neem and coconut oils, if pure, will harden in cooler temperatures, so you may need to warm the oils a little to get a good mixture. You can do this by leaving the containers in a jug of warm water, on a warm windowsill, or by just holding it in your warm hands, but do not microwave it.
- Quantity: Don’t mix too much up in advance and use small glass jars; small Mason jars are the best. Or simply mix one application in a ceramic dish and use it immediately.
- Once you have a good blend, massage the oil into the dog’s skin with your fingertips. It has a soothing effect that most animals enjoy, and it stops them from itching very quickly.
- Apply the oil twice a day at first, then once a day when you see that the healing has begun.
This oil works within a few days usually. The skin starts to look less raw and
sore, and hair regrowth seems to follow in about a week. Massaging the oil
into the sore patches stops the itching quickly, and my dog seems to like it
and doesn’t lick it.
Animals should not ingest neem oil; it has a very bitter taste and most
animals will not lick it naturally—but monitor your pet just in case.
DIY Neem Shampoo for Dogs
To keep insects at bay and to alieve mildly itching skin, make your own neem
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- Add a teaspoon of oil to roughly 2 tablespoons of regular dog shampoo (preferably an oat shampoo as these are gentle on dogs).
- Use it in the usual way, but try and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off if your pet will allow it.
- My tip for leaving the shampoo on for a bit is to turn the water off and give your dog a massage with the shampoo. (Quietly work up and down your pet’s body and make the experience soothing.)
Tip: Don’t mix the neem shampoo up too far in advance as raw neem oil will
start to break down in shampoo.
Consider making a DIY spray to deter insects and soothe the skin.
DIY Neem Spray for Dogs
To make a handy spray that will both soothe the skin and act as an insect
- Mix 10 parts water with 1 part neem oil and a few drops of natural soap (to make oil and water mix).
- Only makeup one day’s worth at a time because the neem breaks down in this mixture.
- Shake well. The solution will probably need to warm up to pass through the spray nozzle smoothly as it hardens when cool.
- Use this to apply oil to your dog. (In my experience, dogs don’t really like to be sprayed, so this may not work well.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Does neem oil stain?
Some of the oil will transfer off of your dog after it is applied and before
it has sunken in. It will wash out of some things, but don’t let your dog jump
on the sofa, your bed, or any nice clothing after applying it to prevent items
from getting stained.
How do I mask the odor?
Yes, this oil smells! Some people seem more bothered by it than others. You
can add lavender oil to try and mask the smell.
How do I make my own neem oil?
To make your own treatments, purchase cold-pressed (no heat applied) organic,
raw neem oil. It is inexpensive. If it is pure, it will harden a little in the
cold, so it may appear lumpy. This is normal, and you can apply light heat to
Neem oil has also been used successfully on horses, cattle and cats as well.
Tips for Safe Use and General Precautions
Neem oil should be kept out of the reach of children and babies. Pregnant
women, those who are trying to conceive or are breastfeeding should not use
the oil at all. It should not be consumed by animals or humans.
There are pre-mixed treatments available to buy, like neem soap, neem shampoo,
and neem ointment. Always check the other ingredients used in a product
because some may irritate your pet’s skin.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
Questions & Answers
Question: Our Dalmatian /Labrador mix has awful allergies to foods and
also environmental. The vet wants to put him on Apoquel after he was on it in
2016 for a month. But he experienced behavioral changes, diarrhea, etc. We
want to try Neem oil. He just got off an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory for
a bad UTI. We had in on a raw diet, but he lost weight, his paws were always
swollen, and he was still itchy. What do you cook up for your dog?
Answer: There are so many pet allergies it seems! I cook cheap chicken
thighs, skin included, in water with brown rice and a little-added oil. I do
three days’ worth at the same time, and keep it in the fridge. If there are
bones in it, I scoop them out once the chicken is cooked, so the dog doesn’t
For snacks I have cut up leftover meat cuts, or dried fish or meat sticks that
are in the better pet stores. No cereal added ones.
These foods are kinder to the stomach, and my dog loves rice and chicken even
though she has it every day. Turkey seems to upset her stomach though, which
is a shame as its a bit cheaper to buy.
Question: After applying the oil combo to the dog, do I rinse?
Answer: No, don’t rinse it off unless your pet licks the oil. If they
don’t lick at it, leave it to sink into the skin.
Question: My dog has infections in her paws, and no matter what I put on
it she’ll lick it off before it can help her. Even stuff the vet said she
wouldn’t like, she’ll still lick it off. I applied undiluted neem just on top
of her paws as I know the smell and taste is quite strong? Is it safe though?
Answer: It is not safe for any animal to ingest neem oil, but usually,
the smell means that dogs won’t lick it (horses too). I would suggest washing
the paws, applying the oil, and being with her for several hours so you can
monitor her. If she licks it, or if she reacts to the neem, get it off of her
quickly. I’d suggest doing this in the evening when you are near her
(presuming she is not an outside dog) and not going out to work. If this
works, you should only have to do it a few times. Also, there is always one of
those veterinary collars that are shaped like a funnel.
© 2016 Susan Hambidge
Eve on August 29, 2018:
for our dog diet she is on mix of zucchini (green), celery (twigs = calcium)
carrot, et sushi rice (no gluten). grown beef. All organic. For goodies she
got sardines (in water) or salmon. Or different sort of treats, but for all of
theme no GLUTEN no CHEMICAL. I no this is not easy. But better to invest in
the food then the vet and avoid to see the pet suffer. She is ” breed”
chowsherper thick under coat fur = hot spot. I started to use neem oil, she
fill better, less scratching. The only dry food she will have if no choice at
all, will be acana 100% Canadian. If I can`t eat her food why she will at the
crap ? Yes it is expensive but the reward is hudge !!!
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on March 23, 2018:
I am sorry to hear about your poor doberman. I am not medically trained, but I
would advise against treating your dog in any way that is different to what
your vet has described. Please just do exactly what the vet has said, and if
you think your dog is not healing, then take him back to the vet. You could do
Wishing him well.
JORDAN on March 23, 2018:
MY DOBERMAN DOG WAS SEVERELY INJURED AND VETERINARIAN HAS LEFT THE WOUND OPEN
AS IT CANNOT BE SUTURED THOUGH THE SKIN HAS BEEN TORNED IN MOVEMENT SPACE …
CAN I USE NEEM OIL IS THAT HELPS MY DOG IN HEALING THE WOUND SOON
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on January 02, 2018:
Nancy. I have not had any experience of my dog vomiting. Please remove the
Neem oil and stop using it if this is affecting your pet and seek professional
advice. Ingesting the oil is not good for a pet but if it was diluted
hopefully very little had gotten into the system and will quickly pass
Nancy on January 01, 2018:
What if my dog vomits after licking paws that diluted neem oil had been
applied-? Wondering when vomiting will stop or if another remedy will be
required to treat the vomiting. I suppose if it affects immune system maybe
that’s why she threw up.
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on September 11, 2017:
Jenni – Neem oil should not be eaten so my suggestion would be to leave the
Neem on as long as you are with your dog and can stop him licking, but then
gently remove it with something like vegetable oil and cotton wool when you
have to leave him. Hopefully a few hours a day with the neem on will still
help the healing process. I have to say my dog hates the stuff so much she
leaves it alone!
Jenni on September 06, 2017:
Will it hurt my dog if he licks his skin? I made him lay down next to me on
the couch for over an hour to stop him from licking. But, of course three
hours later, he still wants to lick. He is a big dog, 70 pound Pitbull.
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on July 25, 2017:
No I haven’t tried mustard oil but I will look into that treatment. Thank you.
Kushaldeep Chaujar on July 25, 2017:
Have you tried mustard oil? Today I tried it on a street dog who is having too
much itching and that part has even lost the hair to the extent that it’s skin
is visible. After applying oil he’s not itching. By the way it’s only 20
minutes ago when I applied oil on it.
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on August 25, 2016:
Lydia, my own personal experience has been with my dog, but I have read Amazon
reviews where cat owners used neem on their cats successfully. Make sure it is
neem that has not been blended with anything else, and try it very diluted
with something like olive oil at first. I’d use a cotton bud or cottonwool to
carefully apply it to a small area to begin with.
lydia on August 25, 2016:
can the neem oil be used on cats. i have read articles that say yes and some
that say no. i need something to use for fleas and don’t want to use chemicals
as i already lost a cat because of flea powder. thank you
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on May 21, 2016:
Oh poor Sylvester. I have abesent-mindedly put my finger on my lip after apply
this neem oil, and it tastes truly revolting, so I can’t imagine any animal
managing to groom with this on them!
FlourishAnyway from USA on May 21, 2016:
Glad to know this works on cats as well. I have a cat, Sylvester, who
incessantly over grooms two areas to the point of being raw. Nothing has
helped him so I’ll give this a try. He’s a very nervous sort.