Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

The Short Answer - It depends.

A quick research and you'll find a general lack of information about the impact essential oils have on pets. In part, essential oils are not 100% regulated in terms of quality and make standards, which makes it difficult to make comparative assessments.  

What we do know is that phenols are compounds that are naturally found in certain plants and are heavily concentrated in essential oils.  That's why certain essential oils can be harmful because, cats in particular, lack the specific enzymes needed to efficiently metabolize phenols and other compounds in essential oils.  Also, factors such as the type of oil, method of use, concentration, and individual pet sensitivities play a role in the risk of essential oil toxicity.

Essential Oils on the radar

This is not a conclusive list by any means, but here are some common essential oils with high levels of phenols:

  • Basil
  • Citrus
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic
  • Menthol
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine 
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tea tree 
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Wintergreen 

  Some general guidelines I found useful to share includes the following:

  • Never apply essential oils directly to your pets. In fact, for humans we need to mix essential oils with a carrier oil to dilute the potency and risk of irritations.  
  • Avoid the use of essential oils in households with pets with asthma, allergies, or similar conditions.
  • Avoid excessive use of essential oils especially around cats due to their sensitivity to phenols, whether they are inhaled or ingested.
  • Watch for signs of toxicity. Symptoms include gagging, vomiting, drooling, difficulty breathing, itching or rash, and changes in behavior (depression, stumbling, tremors, etc.)

If you have concerns, its best to talk to your vet for suggestions on essential oils that are pet-friendly.  By taking a few precautions, both you and your pets can be safe and still enjoy the benefits of using essential oils in your home!



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