Essential oils and pets | is this safe?
Are essential oils safe for dogs and cats?
Most essential oils are toxic to pets and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near them in your home. Cats can have a very bad reaction to essential oils, as their liver doesn’t produce a special enzyme that can process oil compounds known as phenols. Furthermore, dogs can also become very sick when exposed to many essential oils. As such, the risk largely outweighs the benefit and we strongly recommend playing it safe by keeping them away from pets.
Essential oils are a key ingredient in holistic health care and may have benefits to us humans. They may be used for relaxation, massage or even as an ingredient in natural cleaning products. However, just because a product is considered ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it is always healthy for your pet. What may appear to work for someone online might be very dangerous for your cat or dog. As such, you should always talk to your vet before trying any home remedies or exposing your pet to any chemicals or compounds.
How do pets get sick from essential oils?
Pets can get sick from direct contact with essential oils on their skin or fur. In addition, they can also become sick by ingesting or breathing oil droplets into their stomach or lungs.
Accidental poisoning can be caused by oil diffusers and oil sticks, particularly in a small space over a long period of time. Droplets can even remain in the air or on surfaces long after the diffuser has stopped, which can end up as residue on fur or paws. Essential oil poisoning can also be caused by ingredients in cleaning products, such as eucalyptus. Sadly, it may also be caused by well-intentioned pet owners placing drops of essential oil into a pet’s water bowl or bedding, or massaging it into their fur.
It is also worth noting that pets are very sensitive to smells and don’t interpret them in the same way that we do. Aside from the health risks, the use of products such as lavender to ‘calm’ your pet may seem to make sense. But the strong odour might actually stress your pet out even more.
What are the symptoms of essential oil poisoning in a pet?
Depending on the oil used and whether you own a cat or dog, you might notice the following symptoms:
- Lack of coordination
- Vomiting or drooling
- Redness of the gums
- Weepy eyes and running nose
- Slow heart rate
If you suspect essential oil poisoning, take your pet to the emergency vet immediately. Place the oil container in a sealed bag to show your vet. And last but not least, don’t attempt to induce vomiting or give your pet anything to ingest until you speak to the vet.
How to keep your pet safe from essential oil poisoning
The best way to keep your pet safe from essential oil poisoning is to minimise their use around your pet. Your pet’s safety is worth it! As such, you should keep any essential oils well out of reach of your pet or consider products that are unscented and less risky.
Speak to your vet if you have any oils in your home that you are worried about and they will be able to tell you what to do. If you are interested in preventative healthcare for your pet, your vet should always be the one you speak to first. They have extensive training and evidence-based advice that is in your pet’s best interest.
Essential oils that are toxic to dogs
These essential oils are toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.
- Tea tree
- Ylang ylang
- Sweet birch
Essential oils that are toxic to cats
These essential oils are very toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.
- Tea tree
- Citrus (including lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit)
- Ylang ylang
- Sweet birch