Are Essential Oils Safe For Pets?

More and more people are choosing natural essential oils to fragrance their homes and enjoy the amazing benefits they offer. I offer a range of homemade products containing these pure essential oils and only natural ingredients, but the one big question that I'm getting more and more of recently is...

Can I diffuse essential oils around my dog?
A dog's nose.

I have written this blog post to offer my own advice when using my products around your pets.

And to be completely honest, there is no straight yes/no answer to this question. Statements like "Definitely Not", "Never!" would contradict some holistic therapies already offered to pet owners around the world, and others like "Yes, they're completely safe" would be completely irresponsible!

So, a more informative version would be:

Most animals, especially dogs, have a significantly higher sensitivity to smells than us humans, so diffusing essential oils could be overwhelming for them and something that smells quite mild and light to us may be extremely pungent to a cat or dog. Also, with essential oils having the amazing abilities to affect us in the ways they do, they would definitely affect an animal a lot more.

Figures from scientists and people in the know say that a dog's sense of smell is approximately 10,000 - 100,000 times more sensitive than ours, and a dog's nose contains 300 million olfactory receptors and we only have around 6 million! That's an immense difference.

This doesn't mean you need to make a decision "It's the oils or the dog!", it just means you need to be careful and take more caution when there are pets around.

So with this in mind, there are some things you should, could, and shouldn't do...

Decrease the concentration of essential oils in your diffuser.

If you are going to diffuse essential oils with pets present, it would be advisable to decrease the concentration of the oil in your diffuser by adding fewer drops to the water instead of the recommended amount. The more dilute, the safer for your pets.

ALWAYS leave a door open. And remove your pet if there are any signs of drowsiness or unusual behaviour.

This is a big one! Animals like cats and dogs aren't stupid, they know when there is something they don't like and will leave an area if they feel the need to, but you must ensure you are providing an open door for them to exit freely. Be aware of how your pet acts, you know your pet better than anyone else, so remove them from the room if you think the smell is too much for them, or it looks like it may be having an unusual effect.

Wait until pets have been put to bed.

If you have rabbits, birds or other small animals that sleep in hutches or cages and are kept away from the living area at night, then wait until they have been put away to bed before diffusing your oils. My partner and I have Cockatiels and we know all too well not to diffuse oils or burn candles in the same room as them. Birds especially and essential oils should be considered a no-no. Our birds sleep in their cage at night and are covered over with a blanket, in the safety of their own room and away from any noise or smells. We can then relax, diffuse our oils and enjoy.

DO NOT apply them to your pets skin.

You shouldn't apply undiluted essential oils to your own skin, so don't apply them to your pet's skin. Yes, essential oils are used on animals around the world for holistic healing and animal aromatherapy, but only by holistic Veterinarians in a controlled environment, and definitely not undiluted!

Keep oils out of reach of wagging tails and curious paws.

Pure essential oils in their concentrated form can be extremely dangerous if ingested (even for humans) or come in contact with their skin, fur or paws. If your pet ever ingests any essential oils or gets it in their eyes, ears, etc, then head straight to a veterinarian or call them for emergency advice.

DO NOT diffuse around your pet if you know they have, or have had breathing problems.
A cockatiel.

My partner and I know all too well, birds have very sensitive respiratory tracts and can develop problems very quickly if exposed to fumes or smoke. Even fumes from household cleaning products are considered dangerous for them to inhale, so if birds/parrots are your companions, NEVER diffuse in the same room as them.

Any animal with breathing problems should be kept away from perfumes and the like.

There are some essential oils that should be avoided around pets. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Tea Tree

  • Rosemary

  • Thyme

  • Cinnamon

  • Cassia

  • Fennel

  • Wintergreen

  • Eucalyptus (cats)

  • Citrus oils (cats)

There may be more...

I am not including fragrance oils in this list, as I don't use these in any of my products.

Don't forget fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils, they are not natural essences. Fragrance Oils are synthetic and are created in a lab by mixing 50 - 80 chemicals and essences together, maybe more, to mimic aromas like Strawberries & Cream or Laundry detergent, Pomegranate and the like. I am not saying these are a no-no either, but unlike essential oils, you have a hell of a lot of ingredients to look through to find out if it would be safe.

The most invaluable advice you will ever need is:

If in doubt, always consult a Veterinarian.

I am not a Vet, so I do not claim to know all. What I have written in this post is from my own experience in Aromatherapy, common sense, research, learning and advice from our own Veterinarian.

Two small dogs running side by side towards the camera.

To summarise - if you are going to use essential oils in the home and you have pets, please be cautious, aware and always provide them with an exit. And more importantly, if you want to know more, always consult a qualified Veterinarian.

For more information about Essential Oils and how they're made, see my other blog post on the subject here, or if you're interested in browsing through some of my natural products, feel free to visit the shop.

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