Are essential oils safe for pets? We may be instinctively tempted to think they are, as these natural products are used to help relieve conditions such as anxiety and other common ailments. And if they’re safe for humans, they’re safe for our pets, right? Not always. The American Kennel Club urges us to remember that “natural” doesn’t always mean “safe” when it comes to our feline and canine companions.
General Risks of Using Essential Oils for Pets
Essential oils should never be applied to your pet’s skin or belongings without first talking to your veterinarian. Our pet’s skin is different than ours – oftentimes it is more sensitive, and it has a different pH than ours. Just as human shampoo can dry out a dog’s skin, so too can essential oils irritate your pet’s sensitive skin or make pre-existing skin conditions worse.
Additionally, essential oils are metabolized by the liver. This can be particularly dangerous for older dogs, dogs who have liver disease or young puppies. Even perfectly healthy pets can face liver damage if they come into contact with certain oils. The same goes for our feline friends as well. Even licking an oil they shouldn’t can cause gastrointestinal complications.
You may have noticed your pet’s keen sense of smell. With such a powerful sniffer, even a few too many drops of essential oils can cause respiratory problems. Not to mention, of course, that the subtle sweet smell we enjoy may be overpowering and irritating to your pet’s sensitive nose.
At the very worst, certain types of essential oils are poisonous to both dogs and cats.
Essential Oils That Are Toxic to Dogs
There are a handful of essential oils that can be toxic to dogs, including cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree, wintergreen and ylang ylang.
These are poisonous if ingested or if placed on the skin. If your dog has come into contact with any of the above-listed oils, call your veterinarian and poison control immediately.
Essential Oils That Are Toxic to Cats
Kitty also has an extensive list of essential oils that are absolutely off-limits. These include wintergreen, sweet birch, citrus, pine, peppermint, ylang ylang, cinnamon, pennyroyal, clove, eucalyptus and tea tree oil.
The above-mentioned oils can induce problems even if they are lingering in the air through a diffuser or placed on kitty’s items or bedding.
How to Safely Use Essential Oils
If you benefit from any of the essential oils listed above, there are precautions you can take to make sure kitty or Fido don’t come into contact with them. When using a diffuser, for example, make sure to keep the door shut and place your pet in another room.
Always make sure to store them in high, unreachable places where your puppy or kitty can’t get their paws on them.
Finally, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling an oil to avoid spreading potentially toxic compounds to your pet.
If you believe your pet truly could benefit from an essential oil such as lavender or vanilla, always, always talk to your veterinarian first. They know your specific pet’s history and can help guide you using appropriate dosages and products. Never apply an oil to your pet’s skin or toys, bedding items, etc. without first talking to your veterinarian.
Thanks for stopping by! We’re glad to see you and hope you were able to gain new insight into safely using essential oils for pets. If you enjoyed our article, please feel free to share it with friends, family and on social media sites.