Neem oil, which is extracted from the neem tree, is highly regarded, often recommended, and widely used in homeopathic and natural medicine communities. Neem oil has been shown as highly effective at treating and preventing a plethora of different disorders and medical conditions that range from minor issues, to debilitating and life-threatening illnesses.
The list of conditions that neem oil is often used is: inflammation, arthritis, infections, diabetes, a wide variety of viruses, skin diseases, oral diseases, heart and liver diseases, and even cancer. Neem oil has also been shown to repel and kill an array of bugs that carry and transmit diseases. Plenty of research was done to determine the effectiveness and safety of neem oil not only in human but dogs as well.
What is Neem Oil?
It's oil that's been extracted from the neem tree or nimtree (Azadirachta indica), specifically from the bark and seeds of the tree, which is native to India, Burma, and Sri Lanka. Neem oil has been used by humans for centuries as a natural treatment for a variety of conditions due to neem oil’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, antiulcer, antimalarial, antimutagenic, and anticarcinogenic properties.
Is Neem Oil for Dogs Safe to Use Topically?
When diluted, neem oil is not toxic to dogs and it's safe to use it topically. However, it is always recommended that you talk to your veterinarian before using neem oil with your pets. A dog could have medical conditions and/or be taking certain medications that may conflict with neem oil. Additionally, some dogs may have an allergy, and/or be sensitive to neem oil.
If you see any signs of an allergic reaction in your dog after administering neem oil topically, such as hives, swelling, skin irritation, excessive drooling or salivation, difficulty breathing, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes, or any other abnormal behavior, discontinue its use immediately, and take your pet to see a vet.
Can a Dog Ingest Neem Oil Orally?
No. Although it is nontoxic topically, neem oil must never be given to dogs orally. Diluted neem oil can be applied to a dog’s skin on a regular basis, and when it is applied to the dog’s skin, the neem oil is absorbed through the skin, into the blood stream, in nontoxic and beneficial amounts.
What Does Neem Oil Smell / Taste Like?
It has a very unpleasant taste and smell (some people state that neem oil smells like a combination of strong, burnt garlic, onion, and sulfur). Both its taste and smell make it less likely that dogs will try to lick neem oil off of themselves. This is one of the reasons neem oil is often chosen as a treatment instead of other topical creams that may be more appealing for the dog to lick off.
How Potent is Neem Oil for Dogs?
Neem oil is extremely potent and must always be diluted before using on a dog. To dilute any type of oil, including neem oil, a separate carrier oil can be used. Carrier oils that are safe for dogs include but are not limited to the following: coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil.
How Can Neem Oil Be Applied?
The following three methods are the ways in which neem oil can be applied to a dog.
Neem oil can be mixed with any kind of pet-friendly carrier oil, and applied directly to the skin using a clean cloth or cotton ball. To properly dilute neem oil, the ratio of neem oil to carrier oil should be 1:10, a mixture of one part neem oil and 10 parts carrier oil.
Neem oil can also be added to a dog shampoo. The ratio for the dog shampoo mixture is one teaspoon neem oil to two teaspoons shampoo. The neem oil should be mixed with the dog’s shampoo immediately before being used, because the shampoo will break down the oil and make it inactive if the combination of neem oil and shampoo is made in advance and left to sit. The dog shampoo / neem oil mixture should be thoroughly massaged into the dog’s fur and skin, and left on the dog for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinsed off.
Neem oil can be made into a spray formula, using one part neem oil to ten parts warm, filtered water. A drop or two of safe essential oil that smells good can be added to the spray mixture to mask the potent neem oil smell, if desired. This mixture can be sprayed all over a dog’s body, in a plentiful amount. Also, the spray mixture formula should only be made for same day use, because the oil will break down and become less effective after a few hours spent sitting with water in the spray bottle.
Critical Warnings for Application of Neem Oil
Neem oil should always be diluted and only used topically, and should never be used internally (never let a dog eat, lick, or drink neem oil).
Neem oil should never be applied to open wounds, cuts, or sores, and should not come into contact with a dog’s eyes, or get into the dog’s nose or mouth.
Any neem oil mixture should be tested on a small area of a dog first before treating the actual inflamed or affected areas or using it topically in large amounts, to ensure that your pooch does not have an allergy to neem oil.
Allow time for the neem oil to be fully absorbed by your dog’s skin and fur before allowing them to jump onto furniture, beds, or anything that you do not want to have an unpleasant smell of neem oil on. Neem oil will generally wash off of furniture surfaces easily; however, the smell of it can stick around if you pet rubs unabsorbed oil into anything that effectively absorbs smells.
How Often Can Neem Oil Be Applied Topically?
To deter and prevent parasites and other kinds of bugs, neem oil can be diluted and applied directly to locations on the dog where unwanted creatures are most likely to attack (head, tail, ears, flanks, shoulders, and wherever needed), once every two or three days. To use a neem oil mixture to spot treat dry and irritated patches of a dog’s skin, as well as hot-spots, or doggie sunburns, the mixture can be applied as needed for immediate relief.
How Long Does Neem Oil Take to Work in Dogs?
This will vary depending on the dog and what's being treated. But on average, when neem oil has been used to clear up itchy, irritated skin and resulting patches of hair loss (alopecia) in dogs, dog owners often report that the itching and alopecia clears up within a week of neem oil treatment.
How Effective is Neem Oil as a Treatment for Dogs?
The effectiveness of neem oil largely depends on what is being treated, and how severe the issue is. In general, neem oil seems to be most effective to use on dogs for repelling and killing insects, and is more effective as a preventative method rather than a means to cure or clear up an already existing condition.
Neem oil has been proven to deter and kill a variety of parasites such as fleas, mosquitos, types of mites, and biting flies. This and this studies demonstrated its effectiveness in deterring and killing different types of insects, including ticks. This study (PDF) showed neem oil is effective at repelling and killing mosquitos too.
12 Benefits of Neem Oil for Dogs
The neem tree has been used medicinally for more than 5,000 years. Here are the most well-known benefits of neem oil for dogs.
1. Anti-Bacterial Properties
Neem oil has been shown to effectively fight off a wide variety of common, as well as rare, extremely dangerous and deadly viruses, ranging from the common cold to Dengue virus and Malaria. Neem oil’s ability to exterminate a multitude of different types of bacteria can help to keep a dog healthy, and is especially great as a preventative treatment for keeping disease-causing bacteria off of a dog’s skin.
2. Anti-Fungal Properties
Research has revealed that neem oil has incredibly effective anti-fungal properties that have been shown to control, and fight-off the fungi that causes ringworm in dogs, as well as Candida, the fungi that causes yeast infections and thrush.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Neem oil contains triterpenes, which are a type of compound that allows plants and animals to manage inflammation. Nimbidin is the specific triterpene compound found in neem oil that has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritis abilities, because of its ability to repress the functioning of macrophages and neutrophils, both of which cause inflammation.
4. Antioxidant Properties
Neem oil has a large amount of antioxidant properties, and antioxidants are well known to play a key role in destroying and thereby minimizing the amount of free radicals in the body, which is beneficial to overall health because free radicals have long been proven to create unstable molecules that lead to many disorders in the body including but not limited to cataracts and other eye disorders, cardiovascular disease, liver damage, cancer, and neurodegeneration (the decline of the brain cells and nervous system). The antioxidants found in neem oil can help a dog to fight off, and even prevent all of these conditions, and more.
5. Atopic Dermatitis Treatment
A specific triterpene named nimbin is found in neem oil, and is known to have antiseptic, antifungal, and antihistamine properties that can help dogs who have environmental allergies to things such as plants, grass, dust mites, mold spores, and more.
6. Prevent Diabetes
This study demonstrated that using neem oil in animals was effective at controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels in diabetic animals and was determined to also be helpful in preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes in animals.
7. Promote a Healthy Coat
Neem oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, as well as vitamin E, all of which help to promote a healthy and shiny coat in a dog.
8. Promote Overall Health
The absorption of neem oil into a dog’s blood stream, via topical application to the dog’s skin, has been shown to protect dogs from infections and parasite infestations, as well as aid in better overall liver functioning, cleanse the dog’s blood, and strengthen the dog’s immune system. Specifically, the omega-6 found in neem oil helps dogs to fight infections, and the omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids found in neem oil help promote a healthier cardiovascular system in a dog.
9. Relieve Itching
Neem oil’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral aspects are extremely successful at repelling and fighting harmful fungi, parasites, and viruses, which can help to fight off infections due to various fungi, parasites, and microbes that cause a dog’s skin to itch.
That, in combination with the vitamin E and essential fatty acids neem oil contains makes it especially effective at relieving itching that is due to food allergies, dry spots, chaffing, insect bites, hot-spots and anything that may cause a dog to itch. It has even been shown to effectively heal wounds and treat eczema and psoriasis.
10. Repel and Kill Insects
A specific triterpene named azadirachtin is found in neem oil is known to be a potent insecticide and pesticide. Therefore, neem oil is capable of repelling and killing many kinds of insects and pests, such as mites, mosquitos, ticks, fleas, and biting midges / biting flies, all of which are commonly known to bite, irritate, and even cause infections in a dog’s skin.
Neem oil repels and kills these unwanted pests without any known negative side effects to dogs, because neem oil is not toxic, unlike some medications that serve this same purpose but come with side effects.
11. Repel Internal Parasites
The absorption of neem oil into a dog’s blood stream, via topical application to the dog’s skin, has been shown to protect dogs from infections and parasite infestations of hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms due to neem oil’s highly effective anti-parasitic properties.
However, research has shown that neem oil will not repel tapeworms in dogs, therefore another form of repellant must be used to prevent your pet from getting tapeworms.
12. Ringworm and Demodectic Mange Treatment
Several of the compounds and properties that can be found in neem oil, such as azadirachtin, nimbin, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E suggest that this oil could be effective in treating ringworm and demodectic mange.
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