You might be wondering about the effects of essential oils used in diffusers on cats and dogs. Essential oils are the concentrated liquids of plants and these oils are popular in aromatherapy, used to improve our health and well-being.
But just how safe are these oils for our pets?
Well, it's important to pet-proof your space and take certain precautions.
In their purest form, essential oils are just as dangerous to cats and dogs as it can be to you. It is always important to be mindful of the direct application of essential oils on the skin. Your pets are no exception—if your fur baby comes into direct contact with an essential oil, they could experience symptoms such as unsteadiness on their feet, drooling, redness or burns on the tongue, depression, and a low body temperature in severe cases. Vomiting and diarrhea are common signs of ingesting the oils.
It is also important to note that cats and dogs are much more sensitive to scents than us – for example, a dog’s sense of smell is somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than ours! What we may think is a mild scent may be overpowering to a dog or cat.
When you notice a symptom, take your pet outside to inhale fresh air immediately. If your pet has ingested essential oil, don’t try to encourage them to vomit. This can lead to further complications, as natural oils can stick to the airway and lungs, which can cause inflammation.
Place the product in the sealed bag, and bring it to your veterinarian so they can suggest treatment according to the type of oil. If your pet gets the oil on their skin or fur, you need to wash it off right away as quickly as possible with soap.
Act fast and call your veterinarian or contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680. The sooner you seek treatment, the better the prognosis and outcome for your pet.
General guidelines for the use of essential oils in homes with pets:
- Use your diffuser for a short time period in a secured area—one that your dog or cat cannot access
- Do not leave your diffuser operating unattended, and limit the time it’s used
- Keep all essential oils up high and out of paws' reach to prevent the potential ingestion or application of the oils
- Do not apply or feed essential oils directly to your cat or dog, or leave oils in areas where they may come in direct contact
- Watch for signs of toxicity. Symptoms include gagging, vomiting, drooling, difficulty breathing, itching or rash, and changes in behavior
- If your cat or dog has asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions, avoid all use of essential oils
As a best practice, always talk to your veterinarian before using essential oils. Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, wintergreen, and ylang-ylang are toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin or used in diffusers.
But you don’t have to give up your diffuser. By taking a few precautions, both you and your pets can be safe.