A tabby cat sniffing a diffuser

Essential oils are a popular way to use the power of aroma to stimulate both emotional and physical well-being. Their popularity has grown over the past twenty years and they are used in massage therapy, as well as naturopathy. Unfortunately, the scents we like so much may be toxic to our pet companions.

The team at BEEVET Animal Hospital takes a closer look at this alternative health therapy and gives you a pet friendly understanding of using essential oils safely.

What Are Essential Oils?

Most essential oils are plant based extractions that have medicinal and wellness benefits. This extraction creates the aroma as it is a highly condensed formula. These volatile compounds differentiate essential oils from other plant based oils.

Essential oils are touted as a good alternative for well-being, household cleaning, emotional balance, and relaxation. They are used for their scent, and are not generally used internally. Because of their popularity, certain lines of essential oils have been created as a benefit to pets. Lots of times, a quick online search can turn up a lot of contradicting results. However, there are some things to know about using essential oils safely.

Essential Oils and Pets

The problem we have seen with the use of essential oils on pets is that their effects are not easily understood. Some pet owners make the mistake of giving certain plant essences internally or in larger quantities as vapors/fumes. This can create a pet poison emergency.

Some essential oils are toxic to pets, regardless of dosage. The more common related poisonings as reported by the Pet Poison Helpline are due to the following essential oils:

  • Melaleuca
  • Pennyroyal
  • Wintergreen
  • Pine
  • Menthol
  • Nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ylang ylang
  • Sweet birch

Poisoning risk occurs when a pet ingests, and in some cases even just inhales, these oils. Your cat or dog’s nose is much more sensitive to scents and can get ill from a diffuser. They are also unable to metabolize the oils without it building up in their body, creating toxicity.

Signs of toxicity from essential oils include:

  • Gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Itching or rash
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stumbling
  • Tremors

Please call us immediately if your pet displays the signs of essential oil toxicity.

A Note About Birds

Our fine feathered friends are much more susceptible to essential oil toxicity and they should never be exposed to the oils or fumes. Even a tiny amount of vapors from a diffuser can cause a lethal reaction in birds. In fact, nothing scented should be used in an area where birds are living, including scented candles and potpourri. This is also true for small mammals and exotics.

More Questions About Using Essential Oils Safely?

If you would like to benefit from using essential oils, make sure you do so safely and with your pet in mind. Never use the oils in an area where your pet can’t get away. Instead, use them in a room that is off limits to furry ones. Keep all containers and bottles, as well as diffusers, stowed away in a cupboard when not in use.

Check out another one of our articles here for more information on essential oil toxicity in pets. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!