Using Essential Oils on Pets: Is It Safe?

Essential Oils on PetsBy now, most of us have heard about, or use, essential oils. These highly concentrated liquids from plants (also known as volatile organic compounds) have long been used in aromatherapy and alternative medicine. Recently, they have become popular for use in cleaning products, herbal remedies, personal care products, food and drink flavorings, and more.

Humans can reap myriad benefits from essential oils, but that isn’t necessarily the case for pets. The use of essential oils on pets should be done with extreme caution, or not at all, as animals are much more sensitive to the compounds present in the oils. Some products, such as liquid potpourri and many varieties of essential oils, including oil of peppermint, cinnamon, citrus, tea tree, wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are toxic to pets.

Diffuser Dangers

Diffusers are a popular way for humans to reap the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils. They work by evaporating the oil into the air, producing the desired odor. Caution should be taken when operating a diffuser in a home with pets for the following reasons:

  • Pets have a more developed sense of smell than we do, and what we find pleasant may be irritating or overwhelming to them.
  • Inhalation of essential oil fumes can cause irritation to the lungs and airway (especially in birds and cats).
  • If the diffuser tips over near or onto a pet, the oil can be ingested or absorbed through the skin and may produce symptoms of toxicity.

Always provide a way for your pet to escape the area where a diffuser is being used, and make sure it is placed in a location where your pet can’t reach it.

Liquid Potpourri

Liquid potpourri is a combination of essential oils and detergents, and can cause chemical burns in the mouth and skin if your pet comes into contact with it. If you must use liquid potpourri, make sure to supervise your pet at all times and place the container in an area your pet cannot access.

Signs and Symptoms

If you notice any of the following signs that your pet may have liquid potpourri or essential oil poisoning, contact us right away:

  • Fragrance or scent on skin, coat, breath, or in vomit
  • Rapid or difficulty breathing
  • Stumbling or loss of coordination
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Pawing at the mouth and face
  • Redness or burns on the lips, mouth, or face
  • Muscle tremors

Using Essential Oils on Pets

Before using essential oils on pets, give your team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call. Your veterinarian will be happy to discuss the risks and benefits of essential oil use, and recommend natural-minded pet care products that contain safe and properly diluted essential oils.