The Dangers of Essential Oils and Pets

Written by: Tabitha Schmidt, Client Care Supervisor

 

With essential oils becoming more popular in health, natural cleaning products, and relaxation it is good to know how this affects your furry house mates. Essential oils are the extracted organic components of plants that give them their characteristic fragrance or taste. They are popularly used for aromatherapy by inhalation (candles, incense, diffusers) or rubbing into the skin (perfumes and oils). They are also found in many insecticides, personal care products (e.g., antibacterials), flavorings, herbal remedies, and liquid potpourri.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of essential oils that are harmful to your cats and dogs, whether it be by diffusing machine or the oil itself. Our pets have a stronger reaction to these products than we do. Many essential oils are toxic to pets and may cause severe respiratory irritation, GI upset, liver failure, paralysis, and other life-threatening symptoms listed below.

Essential Oils Which are Poisonous to Dogs

According to the Pet Poison Helpline

  • Tea tree oil (Melaleuca oil)
  • European Pennyroyal/squaw mint
  • Oil of Wintergreen
  • Pine Oils

Essential Oils Which are Poisonous to Cats

According to the Pet Poison Helpline

  • Oil of Wintergreen
  • Oil of Sweet Birch
  • Citrus oil (d-limonene)
  • Pine oils
  • Ylang Ylang oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Clove oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Tea tree oil

Symptoms to Watch Out For

A few red flags that we should be looking for are:

  • Behavior changes (depression, fatigue, weakness)
  • Difficulty breathing (labored breathing, fast breathing, coughing, wheezing)
  • Drooling and/or vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Ataxia (difficulty walking, stumbling, wobbling)
  • Redness or burns around the mouth or nose
  • Paralysis of the rear legs

Precautions to Take

Prevention is key. The precautions you can use are pretty simple. Keep these essential oils out of reach of children and your pets in a secure container and ask your primary veterinarian what you can use and what could be harmful to your pet. There are also alternative products that you can use that are calming and not harmful for you pet in a stressful situation that are available in treats, capsules, or liquids.

If you think your pet may have been exposed to an essential oil, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or bring your pet to the nearest emergency veterinarian. You may also consider calling the 24/7 Pet Poison Hotline with questions or for advice.