Can Essential Oils be Harmful to Pets?

by Kirby Drake

Many correlate the word natural with essential oils and never assume that such products can be harmful to our pets. But did you know that some essential oils are extremely toxic too? YIKES. 

When reading further you will learn which specific essential oils are harmful to our furry companions and what are the best practices to avoid putting them at risk.

How Can Essential Oils be Harmful to Pets?

1. Topical Application or Ingestion 

Topical application may be extremely detrimental to your pets. This is because the essential oils can be readily absorbed through the skin or ingested by your pet when trying to lick the essential oil off when grooming. This method poses an even higher risk to cats because they lack a specific enzyme that is able to metabolize and eliminate certain toxins in essential oils. The ASPCA also mentions essential oils as one of the most common toxicologic causes of tremors in cats. 

A specific essential oil that is both highly toxic to dogs and cats is pure tea tree oil. Pet Poison Hotline states,  As little as 7 drops of 100% oil has resulted in severe poisoning, and applications of 10-20 mls of 100% oil have resulted in poisoning and death in both dogs and cats". 

2. Active Diffusers 

Active diffusers can pose a risk if placed in an area close or accessible to your pet. Putting your diffuser in an area that is close to your pet may cause microdroplets of essential oil to settle on your dog or cat’s fur. This is mainly concerning for cats because they are adamant about their grooming. To be on the safe side, ensure all diffusers are placed in areas that your pet cannot access or knock over and make sure to air out the room before letting your pet back in. 

If you own a bird, experts note to remove your active diffuser completely because of their very sensitive lungs. For bird owners, read more about our blog, Are Essential Oils Safe for Birds? 

Example of an active diffuser

What Essential Oils are Harmful to my Pet?

For our canine companions, toxic essentials include, but are not limited to:

  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Pine oil
  • Cinnamon oil 
  • Tea tree oil 
  • Peppermint oil 
  • Ylang ylang oil
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Citrus oil 
  • Sweet birch oil

For our kitty companions, toxic essentials include, but are not limited to: 

  • Bergamot oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Wintergreen oil 
  • Cinnamon oil 
  • Clove oil 
  • Eucalyptus oil 
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Geranium oil 
  • Lavender oil
  • Citrus oil 
  • Lemongrass oil 
  • Rose oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Sandalwood oil 
  • Thyme oil
  • Ylang Ylang oil

What are some of the key signs my pet has essential oil poisoning? 

Key signs of essential oil poisoning include drooling, vomiting, tremors, difficulty breathing, low heart rate, low body temperature, pawing at the mouth, watery nose or eyes, or redness of the lips, gums, or skin.

If you are worried that your pet could have essential oil poisoning, you must react fast. Time is of the essence. Seek medical treatment immediately. Call your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline, which is available 24/7 at (855) 764-7661. 

Before leaving to the vet make sure to:

  1. Wash off skin or fur with dishwashing liquid if the animal’s skin was exposed to product. 

  2. Bring the bottle of product with you to the clinic.

Happy pug smiling


Friendly reminder - we’re not saying to cut out essential oils or diffusers completely, but do your due diligence pet parents. To avoid any accidents, make sure essential oils are secured away from your fur babies. 

Some essential oils are harmless, but it is always best to consult your veterinarian before using essential oils in ANY WAY at home. 


Tags: pets
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