Are Essential Oils Safe For My Pets?

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the popularity of essential oil diffusing. Oils are added to water and then heated to create an aromatic vapour which is used for aromatherapy or an all-natural room deodorizer. So, before you fire- up that new oil diffuser, here is what you need to know so you can keep your pets happy and healthy.

Essential oils have been used both topically and diffused as natural remedies for a wide array of health issues such as congestion, muscle pain, and even as topical flea treatment just to name a few. However, the research on their efficacy is still very limited, and side-effects of varying severity have been reported. Moreover, it isn’t clear if any potential health risks when using oils topically on your pets are acute or cumulative. This means your pet could become very ill immediately or, through prolonged exposure, develop serious health issues over time. Before reaching for that bottle of oil to treat your pet, it’s always best to check with your veterinarian first.

When it comes to your pets and essential oils, it’s important to make sure they aren’t able to ingest it. According to the ASPCA, when ingested, essential oils can cause a wide range of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as depression. Some essential oils are extremely toxic to cats and dogs, even in very small quantities, and can cause very serious and even potentially fatal health issues. It’s important to keep oils and diffusers well out of your pet’s reach.

As for diffusing the oils, it is less clear what if any effects this practice may have on your pet’s health. The easiest way to minimize risk to your pet is by limiting their exposure. Diffuse in rooms where your pets are unlikely to be. Our pets have a much stronger sense of smell than we do; if the scent is strong to you, it will be overwhelming to them, so even if the bottle tells you to use 10 drops, it’s better to stick to 3-4 to keep your pets comfortable. And if your pet has respiratory issues or if you have birds, it’s best to avoid using diffusers. The diffused oil can potentially trigger respiratory ailments such as asthma, increasing the severity of your pet’s symptoms.

Keeping our pets safe and healthy is always our priority. For more information on essential oils and pet health, talk to your veterinarian.

Some common potentially toxic oils for cats:

  • Bergamot
  • Bitter almond
  • Cinnamon
  • Clary sage
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon oil (and all citrus oils)
  • Lemongrass
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang-ylang

Some potentially toxic oils for dogs:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Tea tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang-ylang

*These lists are by no means exhaustive but are some of the more common essential oils. If you suspect your pet has come in contact with a toxic oil, bring the packaging with you when you take your pet to the hospital. Signs of toxicity include acute vomiting, neurological issues (shaking, tremors, seizures),respiratory distress, and unresponsiveness. If you have any questions, please give us a call at 902-443-9385 and a team member will be happy to assist you.

Written by Michelle Bon