Are Essential Oils Toxic To Your Pets?

There has been a lot of info floating around on Facebook and other social media sites recently about the use of essential oils around pets – particularly about their use around cats. We wanted to take a moment to provide some more info on this topic since we have received a few questions about this recently. 

If you take the articles floating around at face value, you may be ready to throw all your essential oils or diffusers in the trash. These articles have claimed that essential oils are extremely toxic to cats, and while in some instances this can be true, we need to delve deeper into what actually causes these toxic effects.

The main problem with using essential oils is related to ingestion. Placing essential oils onto your animals or onto your own skin where your animal may lick them off can lead to problems due to the concentrated amount of oil ingested. If essential oils will be used topically by members of your household, make sure to do adequate research on the ingredients in your oils. There are oils that are known to have toxic effects; you can find more info on those oils here: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/blog/essential-oils-cats/

As for the realm of essential oil diffusers, there is much less information readily available about the effects this can have on your animal. You are likely to find a variety of answers about the safety of these devices depending on who you ask. The main concern for our pets in regard to using diffusers is respiratory irritation. Homes that have cats with asthma or pets with other respiratory diseases would be better off skipping diffusers as they can make the symptoms of these conditions worse. However, for all other animals, diffusers can be used safely around them. As a general rule of thumb, make sure your animal can leave the room that the diffuser is in if it is irritating to them, switch your diffuser off occasionally to give your animals a break, and make sure all oils are out of reach of curious pets who may ingest them accidentally. The only exception to this rule would be for homes with birds. Birds are particularly susceptible to any airborne chemicals, such as air fresheners and candles. If you keep a bird as a pet in your home, diffusers should not be used around them.

If you want to read a more in depth look about the effects of essential oils on cats, check out this article written by a fellow Veterinarian: http://mailchi.mp/84d05339fa01/cats-essential-oils-research-references

If you have more questions about whether essential oils or diffusers are appropriate for use in your home, feel free to contact our veterinary technicians or veterinarians for more information. We are always happy to help you make informed decisions about your pets and their health!

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