Pets and essential oils

Are essential oils safe for animals?

One of the questions we get asked frequently from caring pet owners is whether our products are safe to be used around animals. Essential oils can have a lot of benefits to us humans, but did you know that what’s good for us might not always be good for our feline and canine friends?

Smell is one of the most basic, primitive senses and we know that pets have heightened sense of smell than humans. For example, dogs rely on their immense sense of smell to better understand their environment and gauge what state of response they should assume. We know that the aromatic compounds in essential oils are so small that they can cross the brain-blood barrier in humans and animals. Some fragrances can be potential irritants for our furry companions.

General safety rules

  • Keep essential oils far away from animals as they can be toxic if ingested.
  • Do NOT apply essential oils on pets: Unless specifically approved and discussed with a qualified vet, do NOT apply essential oils or products containing pure essential oils directly to your pet. Some sources allow for limited application of certain essential oils on pets but we would urge to exercise caution and as a general principle not apply essential oils on your pet.
  • Self-care products are generally safe: If you are using self-care products containing essential oils, such as bath salts, body, massage and bath oils, etc they are generally considered safe. According to regulations, they contain a low dilution of essential oils which is considered safe and non-toxic. However, please check below the list of essential oils which can be toxic to animals and avoid using products containing those oils.
  • Exercise caution when diffusing essential oils: If you are diffusing essential oils in a diffuser or burner around your pets, you have to be more careful. Firstly, do not use essential oils on and around cats or dogs under 8 weeks old because they are developing fast and their system is fragile and more susceptible to toxins. For older pets, you have to observe their behaviour. Every animal is different, so carefully observe how your animal responds to essential oils. Signs of irritation include excessive dribbling, lethargy, shaking and vomiting. If diffusing, always allow the pet access to areas where they can avoid the diffused oil.

Toxic essential oils for cats

Certain aromatic essences can cause kidney and liver toxicity in sensitive pets. Cats are particularly sensitive to those containing polyphenolic compounds because they interact with the liver detoxification process. Exercise extra caution when using herbaceous and spicy essential oils like tea tree, thyme, oregano and cinnamon around your feline friends. 

In general, the essential oils you should AVOID using with your cat include oils that are high in salicylates or phenols, such as:

  • Wintergreen
  • Sweet birch
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Pine
  • Ylang-Ylang
  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Clove
  • EucalyptusTea tree (melaleuca)
  • Thyme
  • Oregano

Toxic essential oils for dogs

Essential oils you should AVOID using with your dog are:

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

References:

  1. PDSA, Are essential oils toxic to cats? Available online: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/kittens-cats/cats-and-essential-oils
  2. Azzaro, (2013). Animal Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Safety. NAHA. Available online: https://naha.org/assets/uploads/Animal_Aromatherapy_Safety_NAHA.pdf
  3. Pet Sci, Are essential oils safe for dogs?Available online: https://petsci.co.uk/advice/essential-oils-safe-dogs/
  4. Found Animals.org Essential Oils and Animals: Which Essential Oils Are Toxic to Pets? Available online: https://www.foundanimals.org/essential-oils-toxic-pets/

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