Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets? A Detailed Overview of Pet Safe VS. Toxic Essential Oils

Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets? A Detailed Overview of Pet Safe VS. Toxic Essential Oils

Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

Are you considering using essential oils for pet odor elimination?  Are you curious if essential oils work for hot spots and skin irritations?  Essential oils are increasingly utilized in human health and wellness, but we need to be careful when using them around our furry friends. Below, we will cover the common consensus on using essential oils for pets including which might be safe and which are verified to be harmful.


Essential Oils and Pets: A Mixed Bag

The main theme of expert advice is to either avoid essential oils with pets entirely, or to proceed with caution.  Our pets' senses are so much more sensitive than ours.  According to experts, some oils may have calming effects on dogs or help with wounds or hotspots when used correctly, however, even beneficial oils can be harmful if improperly used. Undiluted essential oils can cause pets to develop health concerns.  

Many veterinary clinics recommend not using essential oils with cats at all.  

They also recommend not using them at all or pregnant, nursing or baby animals. 

Each individual pet owner must decide if trying these natural remedies is right for them, however, we’ve assembled lists of essential oils that are bad for pets as well as the essential oils considered to be ‘pet friendly’ below.


Essential Oils Bad for Pets

The toxicity of essential oils varies based on the type of oil and the animal species.  Keep in mind this is not an all inclusive list of what essential oils are toxic to pets.  Also, essential oils that are harmful to pets can vary in toxicity; one oil may require quite a bit to cause harmful effects, while another may only take three drops.

Essential oils known to be bad for dogs include:

  • Tea Tree
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Juniper
  • Anise
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Yarrow
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Clove

Many vets recommend not to use any essential oils on cats.  They groom themselves frequently and will ingest and inhale more of the product than we would and cats’ livers have a reduced ability to break down certain compounds found in these oils.

Essential oils toxic to cats include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Peppermint
  • Citrus (bergamot, lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lime, mandarin)
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Sweet birch
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Tea tree
  • Wintergreen 
  • Ylang Ylang


Monitor Pet Behavior When Using Essential Oils

The best thing you can do when using essential oil around pets is to monitor their behavior.  If you are diffusing or applying a diluted oil that is on the verified “safe” list, has your pet’s behavior changed from their norm?  Signs your pet has gotten into an essential oil not safe for pets, or that a “safe” oil doesn’t agree with them include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low body temperature
  • Low heart rate
  • Excessive panting or wheezing
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tremors 
  • Excessive salivation/drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to walk
  • Pawing at face
  • Redness around mouth and/or on gums

If you notice any of these symptoms after you suspect your pet has been exposed to essential oils, take them to your local vet or after-hours emergency vet.


So, Which Essential Oils are Safe for Pets?

Despite the risks,many professionals say the safe use of essential oils around pets is possible. Pet owners should do research into which are pet friendly essential oils as well as consult with a professional before using any oils on or around their pets. If you're using pet safe essential oils for diffusers, it's very important to ensure your pets can still exit the room if they're uncomfortable with the scent. Never apply essential oils directly onto pets' skin without professional guidance.  Remember, even pet safe essential oils should never be applied to the skin undiluted– the standard dilution is 3-6 drops essential oil per 1 ounce of carrier oil.  Although it’s not recommended to exceed this concentration, you may add less essential oil to your mixture if your pet is very small.

Dog safe essential oils:

  • Copaiba
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Petitgrain

Essential oils safe for cats:

  • There are no essential oils considered “safe” for cats.  Not only are cats’ livers a lot more sensitive to certain compounds (keeping them from being able to break those compounds down), it is simply inevitable to keep a cat from ingesting the oil.  Cats are known for meticulously grooming themselves and can reach most parts of their body.  
  • It’s possible to still use a diffuser as long as you keep your cat out of the room your diffuser is in while it is running.  Try to limit the time you are using your diffuser to 20-30 minutes.  If it is impossible to keep your kitty out of the room you’re diffusing in, at least make sure they are able to exit the room as they please.  Monitor your pet for any of the signs of abnormal behavior listed in the section above.
  • Remember, if you are wearing an essential oil mixture on your own skin, your cat may not want to be held or pet by you and it is important to respect their space– they can detect these compounds that are harmful to them way easier than we can!


The Verdict

The safety of essential oils for pets is not black and white. While some oils might confer benefits, many pose serious health risks. Pet owners should stick to the oils considered relatively “safe” by professionals and, remember, what works well for humans may not always be safe for pets. Always consult with veterinary professionals before introducing essential oils into your pets' environment or introducing them to any new products. Prioritizing pet wellbeing over the potential benefits of these natural remedies is essential, after all.

Back to blog