Essential oils and pets.

As a pet owner, you do everything you can to keep your pet safe and healthy. From routine wellness visits to a good nutrition plan to recommended parasite prevention, you play an active role in good pet wellness

Your team at Brodie Animal Hospital wants you to know, though, that keeping your pet healthy goes beyond what happens behind our doors. Pet safety at home is a big part of responsible pet ownership, and identifying hazards in your home is very important. Essential oils and essential oil diffusers have become a staple in many households, but they don’t always mix well with animals. Understanding the concerns regarding essential oils and pets is vital for safety.

The Essentials of Oils

Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds that are most often extracted from plants. Many of the smells and properties that we associate with various botanicals are derived from these oils.

In fact, essential oils are very often the source of compounds that we use for various medications and other chemical compounds. It only makes sense that people might want to utilize them in their purest form for therapeutic benefits. 

People may utilize essential oils by:

  • Vaporizing and diffusing
  • Applying topically
  • Ingesting

Quality and purity of essential oils can vary quite a bit, and most people choose to diffuse them for this reason. 

Not only do essential oils often offer a pleasant smell when diffused, but they can have some potentially powerful effects. They are certainly more than just air fresheners. 

Essential Oils and Pets

As essential oils become more common in the average household and people begin to learn about potential beneficial and medicinal properties, they may want to use them for their pets. 

Even if not directly used for or on an animal, it is also important to remember that diffused oils can affect our household pets as well. They may be natural, but they are not always safe. 

While many homes diffuse without any reported ill-effects, it is important to note that oils are not totally benign and essential oils and pets don’t always mix.

In particular, you should use caution around pets with respiratory issues and cats. 

Note that pets may inadvertently inhale oils, lick diffused droplets from their fur, or even help themselves to unsecured oils. Because essential oil molecules are small and lipophilic, they absorb easily across the skin barrier and into the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. 

When using essential oils in a pet-loving household, be sure to:

  • Give your pet space to move away from any diffusers in the home
  • Be conservative in the amount of oils you use (diluted is best) and amount of time that you diffuse (< 30 minutes at a time)
  • Avoid citrus oils, peppermint, and eucalyptus, especially around cats
  • Never apply oils directly to your pet without consulting us 
  • Not diffuse around pets with asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • Not allow the diffuser to spray on areas such as pet bedding, kennels, or bowls
  • Keep essential oils in a secure local to prevent accidental ingestions
  • Keep your diffuser in a location that is inaccessible to curious pets who may knock it over or drink its contents

In general, choices like frankincense, chamomile, and lavender oils are safest for both dogs and cats.

Pet poisonings and toxicities can definitely occur with essential oils. Symptoms like drooling, trouble breathing, vomiting, and skin irritation can occur. 

Pets and essential oils can share a space in your home together, but it’s important to remember that there are potential dangers with the combination. With some care, though, most homes can enjoy diffusers as part of their decor side by side with their pets.