Essential Oils and Your Pet

Apr 28, 2018

Checking out this fragrance!
Credit Muffet (liz west) [Flickr]

Keeping your home safe for your best friend may mean limiting the use of things like essential oils.  That includes diffusers which may put oils into the air that could harm your pet's sensitive respiratory system.  

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If you’re trying to sleep better, feel better, look better, you might consider using essential oils. There’s a lot of information about which of these popular oils to use for what purpose.

Essential oils are distilled or extracted from plants that have a strong fragrance and, according to many users, health benefits. For example, lavender oil has been shown to reduce anxiety. Other oils are used to treat muscle aches, or improve your complexion. You may apply some directly to the skin, or use in a diffuser. But what is good for you could be harmful to your pet.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center warns against using essential oils around your pet. The toxic effects could include scratching, drooling, rapid breathing, coughing, sneezing, poor coordination, vomiting and tremors.

For dogs, the most common problems come from the use of tea tree oil, pine oil, Wintergreen oil, or Pennyroyal.

Those same oils also have adverse effects for your cat, along with a number of others, like peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil and eucalyptus oil. A cat is even more susceptible than a dog, because its liver lacks the enzyme needed to metabolize toxins like essential oils.

And birds are even more susceptible than cats. The toxic effects extend even to fish, reptiles, rodents – really, any pet in your home.

Before using any essential oil around or on your pet, visit the ASPCA website at ASPCA.org and search for “essential oils”. Or check out the Pet Poison Helpline at PetPoisonHelpline.com.

Also remember that many of these toxic oils are used in products you may already have in your home – like cleaning supplies, or cosmetic products. Read the labels to confirm that those items are safe for use around pets.

Prevention really is the best medicine, so limit your pet’s exposure to toxic substances, including essential oils. If your best friend shows any indication of a toxic reaction, call your veterinarian immediately.

Prompt action on your part is - well - essential, to make sure your companion stays happy and healthy, when you’re speaking of pets.

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