Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?


Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

Essential oils are nothing new. In fact, humans have been using them since around 2000 B.C. (4,000 years ago). They provide us with medicinal and therapeutic benefits through a variety of methods. A common one is the inhalation of oils by use of a diffuser. Another familiar approach is simply applying them topically to your skin. No matter how you use them, they can serve as your decongestant, disinfectant, or stress reducer (depending on the scent). Some people even put a couple drops of oil into their laundry wash for a boost of aroma. Over the years, they have become a regular item in many households and their popularity continues to hold steady.

Since essential oils are such a natural part of holistic practices, and they give us so many wonderful advantages, it’s easy to assume that they are nothing to worry about. And for the most part, that’s true; except in the case of pet owners. There are a few scents that are safe to use around domestic cats and dogs, but many can be toxic and do much more harm than good. Keep reading to learn more about safely using essential oils with, or for, pets in your home.



What’s the danger between pets and essential oils?

Many essential oils contain a compound called phenol. Phenol is especially toxic to our pets because they cannot break it down. If your pet gets the oil on their skin, it can cause chemical burns. If your pet inhales or ingests the oil, it may result in trouble with the central nervous system, respiratory system, or other severe health concerns. Some signs and symptoms of essential oil poisoning are:

  • Drooling
  • watery eyes and nose
  • vomiting
  • wobbliness or tremors
  • redness of the lips, gums, nose, or tongue
  • low body temperature
  • low heart rate


Before introducing any new oil to your pet’s routine, always check with your veterinarian to be absolutely sure that it will be suitable for them. Every pet’s DNA is different; therefore, there is no guarantee as to how they will react to the oil. However, with proper research and practice, you can use pet-friendly oils safely in your home without damaging their health.



Tips for applying essential oils to pets topically:

Once your vet has approved the oil for topical use, you should apply it with a carrier oil. A carrier oil dilutes the essential oil and protects your pet’s skin from irritation. Never apply an essential oil to your pet without a carrier. According to Vitality Extracts, you should dilute your essential oil using “approximately three to six drops of oil in an ounce of carrier oil, or about 20 drops in eight ounces of shampoo, or 0.1%-1% oil to water ratio. Use less for small dogs than for big ones.” Always apply the oil to the back of your pet’s neck so that they can’t lick it or directly inhale the area. Vitality Extracts also suggests using a spray bottle filled with water mixed with a few drops of oil for topical application. Your pet will still enjoy the essential oil, but with less risk of poison.




Tips for diffusing essential oils around or for pets:

As long as the scent is safe for pets, an essential oil diffuser is a fine method to use. However, pet consultant, educator, and groomer Malissa Conti-Diene recommends limiting use of the diffuser to one hour per day. “They’re ultrasonic,” says Malissa, “so it makes those water droplets look like steam. Those molecular water droplets have essential oils. They are getting breathed in and land on the animal’s coat.” For that reason, it’s best to set a timer for yourself. Many diffusers even come with their own timers. Whatever you choose, just be sure to keep an eye on the clock while you diffuse.


Another hint of advice is to place your diffuser out of your pet’s reach. Although this can be tricky for cat owners, it’s worth the rearranging. You don’t want to lose your pet to a preventable poisoning! Never leave the diffuser at your pet’s nose level and always keep the strength on the lowest setting possible. Your pet should also have access to leave the room and get fresh air away from the diffuser. Considering that a dog’s sense of smell is up to 10,000 times the strength of yours, what might smell faint to you is likely a very different experience from your pet’s perspective.



Essential Oils Safe for Cats:

  1. Frankincense 
  2. Lavender oil 
  3. Bergamot 
  4. Chamomile


Essential Oils Safe for Dogs:

  1. Myrrh
  2. Frankincense
  3. Chamomile 
  4. Lavender oil 
  5. Ginger 
  6. Rosemary 
  7. Bergamot 


If you have pets, it’s best to stick with the items on these lists. Other essential oils can be extremely toxic for them and aren’t safe to have just lying around the house. Always keep your oils securely out of your pet’s reach. Remember to always check with your veterinarian before you begin using essential oils with your pets.




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