Neem Oil for Dogs Stops Itching, Heals Skin, and Repels Fleas and Mosquitos

Updated on January 10, 2018
Susan Hambidge profile image

Susan prefers to use natural ingredients whenever possible. It is usually cheaper, easier and greener.

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 1000s 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.

Mix Neem Oil With Olive Oil Before Use

Properly dilute neem oil before use.
Properly dilute neem oil before use.

Neem Oil for Dogs

For dogs who have itchy skin due to food allergies, insect bites, mild mange, or really dry patches, neem oil works 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.

To treat 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. Raw neem oil is very potent stuff, so dilute a few drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil to begin with. For very severe cases, try it a bit stronger, but watch carefully for any reactions. My dog is fine with 50/50 mix, but I began with a more diluted mix at the start and built it up over time.

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 your warm hands, but do not microwave it. Don't mix too much up in advance and using small glass jars; small Mason jars are the best. Once you have a good blend, massage the oil into the dog's skin with your fingertips. It has a soothing effect which most animals enjoy, and it stops them itching very quickly.

Apply the oil twice a day at first, then once a day when you see that the healing has begun. Animals should not digest neem oil; it has a very bitter taste and most animals will not lick it naturally, but monitor your pet just in case.

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.

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 when we have not paid full attention! After about 48 hours, the scratching starts, the fur comes out and she gets utterly miserable.

Massaging the Neem oil into the sore patches stops the itching quickly—she quite likes the oil being applied and she won't lick it. Her skin looks healthier from day 2 and the hair regrowth happens quicker. It took me a bit of time to discover this remedy, but I am pleased with the way it helps my dog.

Make Your Own Neem Shampoo for Dogs

To keep insects at bay, and to keep treating mild itching skin, make your own neem oil shampoo:

  1. Add a teaspoon of oil to roughly 2 tablespoons of regular dog shampoo, preferably an oat shampoo as these are gentle on dogs.
  2. Don't mix this up to long in advance as raw neem oil will start to break down in shampoo.
  3. Use in the usual way, but try and leave it on 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off if your pet will allow it.
  4. My tip for leaving the shampoo on for a bit is to turn the water off and give your dog a sort of massage with the shampoo. Quietly working up and down your pet's body soothes them enough for a while.

Neem Spray for Dogs

To make a handy spray:

  1. Mix 10 parts water with 1 part neem oil and a few drops of detergent (to make oil and water mix).
  2. Only make up one day's worth at a time because the neem breaks down in this mixture.
  3. Shake well. The solution will probably need to warm up to pass through the spray nozzle smoothly as it hardens when cool.
  4. Use this to apply oil quickly to your dog. In my experience, dogs don't really like to be sprayed so this may not work well.

Tips and Warnings

Neem oil should be kept out of the reach of children and babies. Pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding woman should not use the oil at all. It should NOT be consumed by animals or humans—neem leaves may be consumed but this is different part of the tree altogether so do not confuse the two.

Neem oil is used successfully on horses, cattle and cats as well.

Some of the oil will rub off your dog soon after it is applied and before it has sunken in. It will wash off many things , but don't let your dog jump on the sofa, your bed or any nice clothing after applying the neem oil to stop items getting stained.

It does really smell! Some people seem more sensitive than others. If you want, you can add lavender oil or eucalyptus oil to try and mask the smell.

There are pre-mixed treatments available to buy, like neem soap, neem shampoo and neem ointment. Check the other ingredients used because some may irritate your pet's skin more. To make your own treatments, purchase a 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 may appear lumpy. This is normal and applying a gentle heat will loosen the consistency.

© 2016 Susan Hambidge


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    • Susan Hambidge profile image

      Susan Hambidge 2 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      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 through.

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      Nancy 2 months ago

      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 profile image

      Susan Hambidge 6 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      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!

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      Jenni 6 months ago

      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. Thanks!

    • Susan Hambidge profile image

      Susan Hambidge 7 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      No I haven't tried mustard oil but I will look into that treatment. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Kushaldeep Chaujar 7 months ago

      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 profile image

      Susan Hambidge 19 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      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.

    • profile image

      lydia 19 months ago

      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 profile image

      Susan Hambidge 22 months ago from Hertfordshire, England

      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 profile image

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      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.