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Are Essential Oils Safe For Pets?

More and more people are choosing natural essential oils to enjoy the amazing benefits they offer. But the one big question that I get a lot of is...

Are essential oils safe for dogs?

The answer is bigger than a simple yes or no.

Before you do anything, you need to be aware of a few things. - Many animals, particularly dogs, possess a far greater sensitivity to odours compared to humans. Fragrances that we use around the home, in the quantity that we use them, will be significantly more potent to a dog's olfactory senses. This includes cleaning chemicals, sprays and perfumes.

A dog's sense of smell is reported to be as much as 10,000–100,000 times that of the average human. This is because compared to our 25 cilia per smell receptor within our nasal cavity, they have hundreds of cilia per receptor giving them the ability to detect tiny concentrations of odours. They can also detect odours up to approximately 12 miles away. - NIH

A dog's nose.

But, this doesn't mean you can't use your favourite scents around your beloved pets, it just means you need to be aware of these facts when they're around.

With this in mind, there are some things you could, should and should never do.

COULD - use a higher dilution

If you diffuse essential oils in your home, you could halve the advised amount of oil in your diffuser. The more dilute the oil, the less overpowering for your pet.

DO - leave a door open

This is an important one. Ensure there's a way for your pets to come and go from the room as they please. Animals are intelligent, they know when there's something they don't like and may want to leave an area if they feel the need to.

DO - be aware of respiratory issues

If you know your pet has, or has had a history of breathing problems, home fragrances should be avoided. This is especially important, and a MUST if you have pet birds and parrots!

I cannot stress this enough... You shouldn't be using anything that emits fragrance, fumes, smoke, or chemical vapours around pet birds.

My partner and I have had Cockatiels for over 20 years, and we know all too well not to diffuse oils, burn candles or use unsuitable cleaning liquids anywhere near them. They have their own room a safe distance away from my products.

A bird's respiratory system is different from ours and other animals. Birds have special air sacs in addition to their lungs, with hollow bones that allow oxygen to flow around the body more easily. This means that one bird's breath goes further and does more work. - RSPB

When we breathe in and out, we take one breath in and then exhale the waste. When a bird breathes in, that air is passed around the lungs and air sacs continuously with each breath. This means the air they breathe in is present in their system for longer. Any chemicals or toxic fumes however small the amount, can do real damage to a bird's respiratory system.

DO - keep oils out of reach

Keep your essential oil bottles tightly sealed and away from wagging tails and curious paws. In their concentrated form, pure essential oils are extremely dangerous if ingested, even for us. If your pet ever manages to ingest essential oil or gets it in their eyes, ears, etc, call your veterinarian for emergency advice.

DO NOT - apply essential oils to your pet's skin.

You should never apply undiluted essential oils to your own skin, so don't apply them to your pets.

Essential oils are used on animals all over the world for holistic healing and animal aromatherapy, just like they are for humans, but only by professionals in a controlled environment, and never undiluted.

Two small dogs running side by side towards the camera.

Some essential oils are toxic to animals...

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Tea Tree

  • Rosemary

  • Thyme

  • Cinnamon

  • Cassia

  • Fennel

  • Wintergreen

  • Eucalyptus (cats)

  • Citrus oils (cats)

Cats are more prone to toxicity when it comes to essential oils. Any advice about this must come from a qualified veterinarian.

What about fragrance oils?

I have not included fragrance oils in the list above, because I do not use them in my products for the simple reason that they are synthetic.

Many people don't know the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils and there are a few well-known businesses out there including the words 'with essential oils' on their products even if there is just a trace. Fragrance oils are not natural and do not hold the therapeutic properties of essential oils. They are created in a laboratory by mixing 50 - 80+ synthetic chemicals and essences to mimic fragrances like Pomegranate, Lime, Basil & Mandarin, or Peony. These are stronger-smelling fragrances and will be exceptionally stronger for any animal, which could potentially be more harmful.

Always - Consult a veterinarian

I am not a professional Veterinarian, so I don't claim to know all the ins and outs. But I am a complete and utter animal lover, so everything I have included in this post is from my own experience in Aromatherapy, common sense, research, learning, passion, and of course advice from our own Veterinarian.


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