When using oil diffusers

When applying oils on your pets

When using oil diffusers

When applying oils on your pets

With the popularity of essential oils growing, it is so important to keep in mind how these gifts from the earth will effect your furry family!

Be Careful With These Essential Oils

Every pet is different and may have different reactions to different essential oils. However, there are some essential oils that you may want to be careful using around your pets. If you have cats, you also need to be wary about certain oils. Cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils that contain polyphenolic compounds because they interfere with their liver detoxification processes. So if you have cats use extra caution around essentials oils like cinnamon, tea tree, thyme, birch, wintergreen, clove, and oregano.

There are also certain essential oils that should not be used for or around dogs including anise, clove, garlic, horseradish, juniper, thyme, wintergreen, and yarrow. These essential oils can trigger a range of issues from allergies and skin sensitivities to interference in their natural body processes.

If you use any of these essential oils for your own health, make sure you also exercise caution around your pets. If you use a diffuser, keep them out of the room during the treatment period. If you wear these essential oils on pulse points throughout the day, be careful when petting your companion animals.

Of note, according to Roark, Ernie’s symptoms are non-specific to poisoning. She suggested that he could have been reacting to another substance, something in his water, or another issue that could be chalked up to him being a geriatric cat. She also noted that Ernie’s vet gave him antibiotics and vitamins, citing Murray’s post. Roark notes that in cases of poisoning, the first step is to dilute the poison through fluids. In short, she says that there’s no way to tell for sure that the essential oils were the culprit. That doesn’t keep pet owners from hesitating before using their diffuser, and understandably so.

Potentially toxic essential oils for pets

According to the ASPCA, cats, in particular, are very sensitive to essential oils. On its website, the organization cites gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system issues and liver damage as some of the risks associated with essential oils. Noting that the toxicity varies depending on which oil you use, the ASPCA says that when a cat inhales oils through a diffuser, the oils can cause aspiration pneumonia. “Based on this,” the website’s Animal Poison Control page reads, “we would not recommend using essential oils in areas where your pets have access unless pets are supervised or the use of the oil is approved by your veterinarian.”

Which oils are unsafe for cats?

Cat owners should exercise caution when using essential oils. Phenols, a chemical group in thyme and oregano oils, monoterpene hydrocarbons in pine oils, phenylpropanes in basil and cinnamon, and many ketone oils including wormwood and pennyroyal should be avoided altogether.

Essential Oils & Pets

The use of natural oils as treatments for common ailments (e.g., arthritis, anxiety, cold symptoms) is not particularly groundbreaking — in fact, it dates back to biblical times. But the industry is currently undergoing a resurgence in popularity.

In 2015, one of the leading essential oil distributors, Young Living, boasted annual sales of $1 billion, and Transparency Market Research projects the industry as a whole will reach $27.4 billion by the end of 2022.

This influx is due in large part to essential oils being adopted for frequent, personal use topically, orally and through aromatherapy. The trend has even extended to beauty products, household items and diet supplements formulated primarily from oil blends. 

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With more Americans incorporating these products into their everyday lives, a new conversation has emerged: How do essential oils affect pets?

The short answer is that, like almost anything, essential oils have their pros and cons. But as cases of animal illnessrelated to oils gain publicity, it’s important for veterinarians to educate themselves and their clients on the potentially harmful side effects some essential oils may pose to pets.

Quick Guidelines:

  • Cats and dogs have an enhanced sense of smell, so using diffusers could become overwhelming.

  • Cats’ livers cannot metabolize some of the compounds in essential oils. Therefore, they may be more susceptible to toxicity. 

  • Clients should keep oils stored away from pets.

  • If a pet accidentally ingests essential oils, clients should call their veterinary office or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

  • Remind clients that animals react and absorb the oils differently than humans do. Any oils being used on or around animals should be diluted by water or a carrier oil.

  • Some products are not made from pure oils; look for additional ingredients that could be detrimental to pets.

  • Some oils could cause chemical burns if applied directly to the skin.

  • Adverse reactions to oils include squinting, excessive drooling, scratching, increased breathing rate and lethargy.


Below are a few specific oils you may want to advise clients to steer clear of.


Important note: Pets may react differently to certain oils; this list is not all-inclusive.  

For dogs:

  • Clove

  • Garlic

  • Juniper

  • Rosemary

  • Tea Tree

  • Thyme

  • Wintergreen


 For cats

  • Cassia

  • Cinnamon

  • Citrus

  • Clove

  • Eucalyptus

  • Lemon

  • Lavender

  • Peppermint

  • Spruce

  • Tea Tree

  • Thyme

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Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are not intended to diagnose, treat,  mitigate, cure, or prevent any illness, health issues/concerns or disease.

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