Are essential oils safe to use around pets?

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Are essential oils safe to use on or around pets? It depends on the oil, the method used, and the type of pets you have. Keep in mind animals can have some of the same allergies and sensitivities to essential oils as humans. They also don’t metabolize oils the same either and in some cases can’t metabolize them at all. I know there is a lot of conflicting information regarding the use of essential oils and how they effect animals. I’m not a vet, but I know there are many vets who use essential oils in their treatment practices. I also know there are many vets warning people about the use of certain essential oils around their pets.

Essential oils are absorbed through mucous membranes and the skin. Some essential oils are more toxic than others. Keep in mind there is also a difference in the quality of essential oils that are being sold. It is important to have and use the highest quality of oil that has been tested as 100 % essential oil and doesn’t contain synthetic additives or pesticides. Another important factor is species sensitivity. Cats may be more sensitive with dermal exposure due to their increased risk of oral exposure from grooming.
The same concerns apply to pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters
Birds are more likely to suffer respiratory affects than other animals to a diffuser due to their specialized respiratory system. Another thing to remember is pets have a much better sense of smell than we do, so something that seems light to us may be overwhelming to them.

Oils to Avoid with Cats:

Avoid oils high in monoterpene hydrocarbons and high in phenols.

• Oils to avoid topically and internally with cats: Basil, Birch, Citrus Oils (Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tangerine),  Cinnamon, Clove, Dill, Fennel, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Oregano, Peppermint, Thyme, Rosemary, Spearmint, and Wintergreen. This list may not be all inclusive so please do your own research.

 Oils to Avoid with Dogs:

• Oils to avoid topically and internally with dogs: Birch, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), and Wintergreen. You should also be cautious and careful with oils such as Oregano, Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Rosemary, and Thyme. This list may not be all inclusive so please do your own research.

When using a water diffuser for aromatic use,  allow your pet to roam freely with an open door to the room. You should only use proven “Therapeutic Grade” oils from a trusted source. Use caution when petting your beloved animals after applying oil on to your skin. Never allow them to lick the oils on your skin or anywhere they may be used or stored. Take care to keep the oils away from pets and wipe up any spillage or excess. Use caution when cleaning kitchen counters with any toxic oils and more. If you cook with essential oils, make sure the pets don’t share the food or lick the dishes. Bottom line is to use some basic common sense. Remember to dilute any oils as much as possible for use when needed. Use carrier oils when applying to your skin and theirs if you are planning on home treatments. Dilute with plenty of water if you are using them as cleaners. Be sure to ask for professional advice when needed and do plenty of your own research. Discontinue use of an oil if your pet shows signs of distress, drooling, squinting, rubbing their face, vocalization, shaking, vomiting, or diarrhea.


The following information comes from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA)

“Are essential oils potentially harmful for your pets? And if so, what precautions should pet parents be taking?
The answer, as we so often see, is slightly more complicated than a simple “yes,” or “no.”
In their concentrated form (100%), essential oils can absolutely be a danger for pets. Dogs and cats who have either walked through oils, gotten some on their coat or had oils placed directly on them can develop health concerns.

Symptoms include:
Unsteadiness on the feet
Low body temperature (in severe cases)
If a pet ingested concentrated essential oils, you may see vomiting, diarrhea and depression, as well.

Are some oils/scents more dangerous than others?

Some oils may in fact be more harmful than others. However, there are several factors that affect this such as concentration level, and what the product is mixed with. For example, concentrated forms of tea tree oil (melaleuca oil) may cause issues for your pets with only seven or eight drops, whereas another oil may take more or less. Due to the variability in concentration, formulation and possible quality of essential oils, it is best to completely avoid directly applying them to your pet. You should also keep any oils up and out of paws’ reach to prevent potential ingestion.

So, does that mean you should return your diffuser?

According to APCC, not necessarily. Using an oil diffuser for a short time period in a secured area— one that your dog or cat cannot access—is not likely to be an issue.
However, if your pet has a history of breathing problems, it may be best to avoid using one altogether. Keep in mind, that your pets have a much better sense of smell than we do, so something that seems light to us may be overwhelming to them.
If you do decide to keep your diffuser, you’ll want to ensure that it is in a place where your pet cannot knock it over and potentially expose themselves to the oils. The best way to avoid exposing your pets to dangerous substances is always to err on the side of caution and by “pet-proofing” your space.
While these same concerns with essential oils will apply to other pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, it is best to avoid using an essential oil diffuser in your house if you have birds. Birds’ respiratory tracts are very sensitive, and they may develop more serious problems if you use a diffuser

If you think your pet may have ingested, or been exposed to a potentially poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian or the APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately. You can learn more about keeping your pets safe from toxins by downloading the APCC Mobile App or checking out our entire list of dangerous household products.” 


According to the APCC, Eucalyptus is also listed as toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Additional Common Names: Many cultivars
Scientific Name: Eucalyptus species
Family: Myrtaceae
Toxicity: Toxic to Dogs, Toxic to Cats, Toxic to Horses

Toxic Principles: Essential oils: eucalyptol
Clinical Signs: Salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, weakness


FDA Disclaimer: The information, advice, and statements made about the essential oils, blends, and products mentioned on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information on this site and the products listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease, nor are they intended to replace proper veterinary care. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or veterinarian before starting any regimen with essential oils.






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