Our Blog

Back to Blog

Are Essential Oils Dangerous for My Pet?

6:58 pm

essential oilsYou can’t walk into a home décor store without seeing essential oil diffusers. As one of the trendiest home décor items right now, essential oil diffusers are in thousands of homes in the United States, and many of these homes include pets.

With reports surfacing all over social media that essential oils can be harmful to pets, it is important that pet owners are informed of any potential dangers to their pets. AERA is here to break down the dangers associated with essential oils.

Are Essential Oils Dangerous for Pets?

Unfortunately, the answer to whether essential oils are dangerous to your pets is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” In the concentrated form, which is when they are 100 percent pure, essential oils can be extremely dangerous for cats and dogs. If your dog comes into contact with, or even worse, ingests essential oils, you may notice a few symptoms including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Depression
  • Redness or burns on the gums, lips, tongue, or skin
  • Pawing or scratching at the mouth or face
  • Unsteadiness
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Low body temperature

You are likely only to notice vomiting and diarrhea if a pet ingests the oils. Low body temperature is only common in severe cases, but any combination of these symptoms should send off warning signs that your pet has gotten into essential oils.

Which Essential Oils Are Dangerous?

In reality, all essential oils can be dangerous to pets over an extended amount of time. There are three major factors when it comes to determining how dangerous an essential oil is to pets: type of oil, the concentration of oil, and species of pet.

Oil Types

Some oils are more likely to cause problems for your pet. Tea tree oil, for example, can cause problems for your pet when they are exposed to only seven or eight drops. Tea tree is one of the most commonly warned against essential oils when it comes to pets. Other oils like Ylang Ylang, eucalyptus, citrus, and pine oil can also be very dangerous for pets. In general, any essential oil can cause problems for pets, so you should always be cautious.

Oil Concentration

The more concentrated the oil, the more dangerous it will be for your pets. Products that contain essential oils, like shampoos, fragrances, and medicinal products, usually contain between one and 20 percent essential oils. The essential oils used in a diffuser can be much more highly concentrated. In fact, some of these oils can be 100 percent pure.

Pet Species

Not all species have the same sensitivities. For example, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs are more likely to be sensitive to oils that come into contact with their skin than dogs, because they are more likely to groom themselves and accidentally ingest the oils that way. Birds have a specialized respiratory system that makes them more susceptible to oils being diffused into the air.

Also, pets with pre-existing health problems are also more likely to experience issues if they are unable to metabolize the oil, have respiratory disorders, or have broken skin that speeds up the absorption of the oil.

What Should You Do If Your Pet Gets into Essential Oils?

If your pet has, ingested or come into physical contact with essential oils, what should you do?

First, you need to call a veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 right away. You may be instructed to use dishwashing detergent to attempt to wash the product off your pet’s skin. In addition, you should seek medical attention for your pet. If you know what product your pet got into, you should seal it in a bag and bring it with you to the veterinarian.

It is important, however, that you do not initiate vomiting unless you are instructed to do so by the veterinarian. While this may seem like a good way to remove the toxins from your pet’s system, it can actually make your pet’s condition more critical. You also shouldn’t give your pet activated charcoal.

The faster you get your pet medical care, the better the prognosis. Acting quickly may prevent toxic effects from developing. The veterinarian will determine a course of treatment based on the symptoms your pet is exhibiting, the product causing the issues, and the type of contact your pet has had with the product.

Preventing Problems with Essential Oils for Your Pet

Since essential oils can cause problems for a variety of pet species, how can you keep your animals safe? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t apply essential oils or products containing essential oils onto your pet
  • Avoid essential oil diffusers if you own a bird or other pet with a respiratory illness or some other underlying health issue
  • Keep oils, diffusers, and warmers out of reach of your pets
  • Make sure pets can leave any area with an oil diffuser if the smell becomes too intense
  • Don’t allow self-grooming pets in rooms with oil diffusers

If your pet has symptoms of essential oil poisoning, bring them to an emergency veterinarian right away. Even the most cautious pet owner may not be able to prevent accidental essential oil poisoning. If you keep essential oils or any products containing essential oils in your home, you should keep a close eye on your pets. Also, keep the number to an emergency veterinarian handy.

If you live near Fairfield, New Jersey, AERA can help in the event of an essential oil poisoning. AERA’s 24-hour a day, seven day a week emergency veterinary clinic, Animal Emergency & Referral Associates, sees all kinds of animal emergencies, including poisonings. If you believe that your pet has been in contact with essential oils, contact Animal Emergency & Referral Associates right away at 973-788-0500. You can also call ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.