skip to Main Content

The Scents We Enjoy May Be Toxic to Our Pets: How Essential Oils and Pets Can be a Harmful Combination

The latest essential oils craze is leading to an uptick in visits to the vet, as well-meaning pet owners – as well as essential oils salespeople or “experts” – make the leap that what’s good for us is also good for our four-legged friends. The truth is, what benefits us can often be detrimental or even fatal to our furry companions.

Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits and other pets have a stronger sense of smell than humans, and their smaller sized bodies make them more prone to toxicity when it comes to household chemicals, human medicines and – yes – essential oils. For example, aspirin may be a godsend to a person with a headache but can be fatal to cats, as their livers are incapable of processing this painkiller. Birds can die from fumes emitted by non-stick pots and pans, even when ventilation is provided such as an open window. And it when it comes to scents, what smells pleasant to us is often stench overload to our cats and dogs and other pets, especially when owners use an essential oils diffuser or candle. What our noses miss or what seems like a pleasant and soothing aroma is often torturous for our furry friends.

Essential oils are not only topical or used in diffusers, however, so be sure to read labels! A market for essential oils cleaning supplies, for example, is on the rise, sometimes to the detriment of our pets’ health. And many mainstream household products and shampoos have also jumped on the essential oils bandwagon and contain these oils in their ingredients.

Every pet is different, of course, and their reactions to essential oils will be different. Cats, for example, tend to be sensitive to essential oils containing polyphenolic compounds which interfere with a cat’s liver detoxification process. Dogs can have allergic reactions ranging from breathing problems to skin sensitivities.

Of particular toxicity to cats are the following essential oils:

  • Wintergreen
  • Sweet birch
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Pine
  • Ylang ylang
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Thyme

Dogs have been found to have adverse or fatal reactions to:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang
  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Yarrow
  • Garlic

If you insist on using essential oils, only do so under the supervision of a veterinarian and make sure no essential oils are left where your dog or cat or other pet can either rub, consume or inhale it. Any essential oil can be detrimental to your pet’s health and signs of toxicity include:

  • The scent of an essential oil on its fur, breath, skin or in its vomit
  • Difficulty breathing or excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness or difficulty in walking or standing
  • Pawing at its mouth or eyes
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Skin irritation, or redness or burns on its lips, tongue, gums or skin
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are indications that your pet has been poisoned – and time is of the essence! If your dog, cat or other pet is showing any of these reactions, seek medical attention immediately. Contact your vet or take your furry friend to an animal emergency clinic, but also call the Pet Poison Hotline at 800-213-6680. And be sure to bring the suspected essential oil with you, if possible, so that the veterinary staff knows exactly what they are dealing with.

The bottom line is, it is better to be safe than sorry. Essential oils and pets are not a good mix and the end results can be tragic. Find other healthy ways to combat stress or to relax, and other natural alternative medicines if using for health reasons. What is pleasant to you could be agony – or worse – to your animal companion.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Kim Morgan
This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Back To Top