Can Essential Oils Harm Pets?

Essential Oils

October 15, 2018

Can Essential Oils Harm Pets?

With the rise in popularity of essential oils, it’s important to know how they can affect not only us, but the others that live in our homes as well. There have been many claims about how oils can have a positive impact on our health. But, will they have the same impact on our pets?

According to a user on Twitter, she was diffusing tea tree oil around her place and noticed that her dog and cat started to act strange and lethargic. She later found out that tea tree is toxic to both dogs and cats. She shared her story on Twitter earlier in 2018 and has since sparked a larger conversation on this topic.

We want to keep our four-legged family safe, so we asked ourselves, can essential oils harm pets?

Essential Oils Are Not All Created Equally

Essential oils are concentrated liquids that contain the aroma of the plant from which they were extracted. Although this seems very cut and dry, not all oils contain the same purity. Each company has a different process, and some oils may be more concentrated (and pure) than others.

When you put them on your skin or use them for aromatherapy, you are allowing the botanicals to affect your body and its processes. It’s important to find an oil company that is reputable and that produces only high-quality essential oils, so you don’t have any negative side effects (note: you can still have negative effects (toxicity) depending on what oil you use and how it’s used – please consult a professional for specific advice).

How It Can Affect Your Pet

Diffused oils can be ingested and get onto your pets’ skin from their tongue as they groom themselves. They can also get exposed if you are wearing oils on your body and are touching or petting them. Note: skin exposure is much more dangerous than inhalation. However, if your pet has respiratory issues, oils can affect them much more than pets that do not have respiratory issues.

It’s important to know that cats are much more susceptible and sensitive to toxins because they have much fewer metabolizing enzymes in their liver than dogs (according to Lifehacker). The main hazard to cats from essential oils is respiratory irritation … aka from a diffuser (Pet Poison Helpline).

The most common types of oil toxicities that vets have seen in the past few years are from(according to the pet poison helpline):

  • melaleuca/tea tree oil
  • pennyroyal
  • oil of wintergreen
  • pine oils

The helpline states that many of these instances are from well-meaning pet owners who just weren’t educated on what essential oils can harm pets.

Toxicity symptoms can include:

  • Labored or fast breathing
  • Panting, coughing or wheezing
  • Drooling or vomiting
  • Tremors or wobbliness
  • Low heart rate
  • Low body temperature

The Bottom Line

Essential oils absolutely have the ability to be harmful to your pet. However, it can depend on their breed, health issues and the specific oils involved.

Before you decide to include oils in your daily routine, consult with your vet. The Animal Poison Control Center also has an extensive list of toxins. You can look up the plant that the oil derives from to see if it is on the list. There’s no worse feeling than accidentally hurting your beloved animal … it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you think that your dog may be exposed to an oil that is toxic to them, you can call the pet poison helpline or your own local veterinary clinic. Did you know that household cleaners can also be toxic to your pet? We have a pet-safe option, here.