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Dogs/lemongrass oil


QUESTION: Can you tell me if lemongrass oil is toxic for dogs?
I want to put some in a homemade oatmeal shampoo for my dog but want him to smell good too.  :)

ANSWER: Hi Sharon,

Although I've never tried lemongrass oil in any combination on a dog, I have heard that it does help to repel/kill fleas and other insects.

If you try it, use only a little and see how your dogs skin reacts.

Here is an article for Dr. Mercola's website that talks about it.

If you are having particular skin issues, you can respond with exactly what's going on and I could possibly make some suggestions.

If you do, tell me everything that is in your pets diet, including treats and use brand names so I know the ingredients.

If you are just wanting to use it in a general shampoo for a bath for fleas and nothing else is going on then you should be fine.


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QUESTION: Thanks for responding so quickly!!   I have a shiba inu who has a sensitive disposition to him overall, he has sensitive skin, and a sensitive stomach and now is currently experiencing severe skin sensitivity.  I have checked him for fleas and tick's, he's clean but I've been giving him baths monthly with an oatmeal shampoo purchased at the pet store.  Since then, he's been having major skin issues.  He has spots (circles) where he's pulled hair or itched it out of his skin and has pulled all the hair out of the back of his legs and has at the base of his tail he has crusted bumps which i'm able to comb out. He is seriously agitated with itching. He has a great disposition but that's his nature.  I recently had him to the vets because his stomach turned black but we realized that was the dog treats from the discount store he was eating, that cleared up but the itching hasn't stopped.  He has a sensitive disposition as I told you and i'm now trying to figure out whats going on with him now. :(
This is why I'm trying the homemade oatmeal shampoo and see if I can figure out whats going on... which is why i was wondering if lemongrass oil will be harmful to him if I put a few drops in the shampoo ...

ANSWER: Hey Sharon,

Sorry to hear that you are having such problems with your dog.

First, you need to make sure that there is no other sign of parasite or mange going on. This is something that your vet will tell you or be able to diagnose.

If there is no sing of mange or parasites causing your problem, then it is typically caused by the diet.

We've seen it hundreds of times. It is typically form eating a commercial food that is high in wheat or other allergy causing grains.

I wish you would have told me what he is eating and the brand names. This is usually the problem.

You've gotten rid of the treats that you thought was the problem but that could just be part of it.

We have to look at everything that is going into the diet. What goes in, is usually what comes out in the skin.

If the food you feed is one of the commercial brands such as Purina, Science Diet, Beneful or other really bad foods, then we need to look at changing it if you want him to heal

There are many allergy causing issues. Like contact allergy from chemicals in the grass,change of laundry detergent, cleaning products or similar.

But the biggest one by far is from the food. Look at your ingredients. If anything in his diet has wheat, corn, soy, by-products, chemical preservatives, artificial coloring's or similar, that is more than likely your problem.

If he/she smells anything like corn chips, then we are looking at a yeast infection. This is very typical and can be cured easily.

If he smells like this, let me know and we'll talk about how to fix it.

If not, then please respond back with everything that is in his diet so I can look at the ingredients and give you some possible changes.

The big thing is to get grains out of his diet no matter what is going on. Then, get mostly moist food in his diet (never feed a dry only diet) and the most important thing is to add in enzymes and probiotics. These are THE MOST important supplements anyone can add to their dogs diet to give them the best chance of healing and living longer no matter what they are feeding.

We can talk about these more if you want to follow up and let me know what he is eating.

I hope the best for you and your dog, let me know if I can help any more.


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QUESTION: Wow this is great, I'm getting answers :)

I feed and have always fed my dog Nutro Max- the chicken flavored.

When he had the episode with his skin/stomach turning dark the vet suggested benedryl, I gave him half a pink tablet in the morning and half in the evening.
(this was after he had a reaction to the cortisone shot or the medication prescribed by the vet)

I hesitate taking him to a vet when it comes to skin issues because they immediately want to shave the effected area which agitates and stresses my dog out further.

He does have sort of a corn chip odor and his fur is "filmy".
Shiba's are not dogs that need bathed very often and this is the first year he's had to have more then one bath throughout the summer months. (he's not happy lol)

I almost feel a contributing factor is the oatmeal shampoo I purchased from the pet store is something he's having a reaction to? perhaps I'm not getting all off the soap off him?   This is why I wanted to try an oatmeal/dawn/baking soda/warm water mixture this time which brings me back to the original question about lemongrass oil lol

If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Thank you

Hi Sharon,

Looking at the ingredients in the Nutro Max Chicken, more than likely he is having a reaction to the wheat that is in it.

Wheat is the number one allergy causing ingredient in dog commercial dog foods. We see it all the time. Most people believe they are feeding a "good" food based on their marketing efforts but in reality, you are weakening your dogs immune system.

If you are smelling a slight corn chip type odor, then likely he has a yeast infection going on. This is very common when feeding commercial type foods. The wheat weakens the immune system and the yeast that is normal in a body grows and gets out of hand and typically causes all the symptoms you are describing.

It will also make his skin very sensitive to any shampoos or anything you apply.

The major allergy causing ingredients to dogs are wheat, corn, soy, by-products, artificial coloring's, preservatives. There are many more but these are the major ones commercial manufacturers use often.

Wheat is number one because it is a cheap filler. Dogs are not wheat eaters and the process they use to extract the wheat for food also causes problems.

We describe premium foods as ones that do not contain any of the above.

Typically a vet will treat this type of skin infection with antibiotics. This only makes a yeast infection worst. The antibiotics destroy all bacteria and thus lets the yeast grow stronger. They do this because of the possibility of a secondary type of infection that may be present.

Carbs and sugars feed the yeast infection. You have to get as much of these ingredients you can out of his diet in order to get him over this.

You said you feed the Nutro Max but is that only dry or wet or a combination? If you are only feeding dry foods then you are making the problem worst.

Dog by nature are meat eaters and need a high moisture type diet. No dog should ever be on a dry or mostly dry food diet. If they are, then they will live in a mild state of dehydration. This effects their internal organs and their skin and coat.

Even the best dry food in the world is still the worst diet for a dog. It is heavily processed, hard to digest and sprayed with synthetic vitamins to make it "nutritionally balanced". But in reality it is not. No dry or canned food is balanced because they are missing the "live co-factors" that make a diet complete. The two main missing co-factors are usually enzymes and probiotics.

My suggestion for you is to get your dog on a grain free diet of mostly canned foods. Don't even feed any dry if you can afford not to.

Go find a small, independent dog food store in your area. Not the big box pet food stores as most of the people there don't know anything about nutrition. Search your area as I'm sure you will have a smaller store that mostly sells premium type foods. And most of the people that run them know more about nutrition.

Get him on a premium grain free food, one like Merrick's 96% meat or similar. Get rid of any grains in his diet.

Here is a link to their foods:

You can also put in your zip code and find where they sell it in your area.

Next, buy some enzyme and probiotic supplements. They usually come in a powder form that you simply add to each meal.

This is the number one thing I tell everyone to add to their dog or cats diet. It is very critical that every animal gets these supplements in their diet.

The enzymes help break down the foods far enough so the nutrients in the food can pass through the small intestine and nourish the organs and the skin and coat. Dogs that don't get enzymes in their food then the internal organs have to supply needed enzymes and this is called enzyme robbing. This effects the internal organs and over time can cause harm.

The probiotics or "good bacteria" is used by the body to help fight off bad bacteria such as the overgrowth of yeast.

You can find good enzyme and probiotic supplements at the pet foods stores or online. One that we use and like is from Animal Essentials:

They have one that is a combination of both enzymes and probiotics in powder form.

So the grain free food along with enzymes and probiotics will typically starve and kill off the yeast problem. Then you will see improved skin condition along with his relief.

Also get some omegas in his diet. Get a good fish or salmon or krill oil and give him some daily. This will help to nourish his skin and coat.

The benedryl you are giving will help provide a little relief but you are only masking the problems underneath. But for the short run until he starts healing, it is fine.

For some relief with his skin, you can try a mixture of organic apple cider vinegar and water. Mix these two 50/50.

Get him wet with some warm water. Pour the mixture all over him and let sit for 5 minutes. Then rinse well.

This will help balance the PH on his skin and offer some temporary relief.

A good shampoo that also may help until he is healing is Zymox. Here is one on Amazon but I'm sure your local stores will carry it as well.

The best diet in the world for any dog is their natural diet of raw foods. Dogs were never meant to eat a cooked food diet. A raw diet provides high moisture and natural enzymes and probiotics, the way nature intended them to have.

There are raw food manufacturers that make a complete balanced usually frozen type nuggets and bars that make feeding raw very easy.

It is typically the best diet for yeast infections as there are no carbs in it. If this interest you then we can talk about how to transition his diet to raw. I'm sure some of your local pet food stores carry one or more varieties or raw. Go talk to them as well.

So that's about it. Follow the above guidelines and I'm sure you will see results soon. I'm sure you will have additional questions or would like clarification on some of these points.

If you do, please feel free to write back and I'll try to help if I can.



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Roger McLeskey


Can answer all nutritional information for all dogs. Common problems with food, supplements, weight control, allergies, fleas, etc. Questions regarding raw food, homemade food, skin & coat issues, ect. Can't and/or will not do medicinal type questions that the vet takes care of.


I am certified in Dog Nutrition. Over 6 years now I've owned a natural pet food retail store. I've worked with hundreds of dogs and there owners to achieve better health. We promote a healthy balanced species related diet. This is the way nature made your pet to thrive. Fortunately for those who cannot or wish not to feed a raw based diet, there are alternatives with supplements and cooked food. Just don't let processed food be there only diet. Food is the most powerful medicine. Heal the core of the animal and the rest will take care of itself. We've turned the lives of many dogs around. There parents come back into the store and comment to us on how there dog acts like a real dog again. Our business is thriving and we continue to help many.

We work with Second Chance Companions, Must Love Dogs, members of ASPCA, HSUSA and started our own personal "Red Head Rescue" (non chartered) for stray dogs and rescue dogs from high kill shelters. We've been able to heal the many health ailments these dogs have and place them in good homes.

Dog Food Decoded - How To Choose A Health Diet For Your Dog and Your Budget - Available on Amazon in Kindle format or Paperback. Various articles for in store and web.

Certified - Canine Nutrition Level Three. Last 7 years I've been working with veterinarians, holistic veterinarians, attending seminars and best of all, real life experience with hundreds of customer dogs and cats. I've seen what works and does not work. Feeding a proper species appropriate diet works for most ailments. We've taken away our petís natural diet and caused most of todayís problems.

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