Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats and Dogs?

Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats and Dogs?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that have gone through the process of pressing or distillation to create an oil that retains the natural and original small of its source.

Are essential oils safe for cats?

Most essential oils are not safe for cats and can pose an extremely high risk if they are accidentally ingested. Unless you can absolutely guarantee extreme caution when using essential oils, it is best to avoid them if you are a cat owner.

Always speak to your veterinarian before introducing your cat or dog to essential oils.

Cats are inquisitive animals and this means that they are at risk of coming into contact with the oils. This means that they could lick and digest them if getting the oil onto their fur and proceed to wash themselves and digest it that way. This can cause serious problems for the cat. With that being said, this does not mean that all essential oils should be avoided and some are pet-safe.

Essentials oils that are safe for cats

  • Chamomile Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Rose Oil

Although these are safe, they should never be used in their pure form, ensure that you always dilute the essential oils and never place them directly onto the cat's skin. Always consult your vet before even considering using essential oils even if you are using the abovementioned oils.

Essential oils not safe for cats

  • Clove
  • Basil Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Citrus
  • Cinnamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch

Note that other dangers come with the process of heating the essential oils. This typically involves either an electronic heater or a candle, both making the oil reach extreme temperatures making it incredibly dangerous for your animal. This poses a risk of them burning themselves or coming into contact with the hot oil. There may be oils not explored in this article, if you plan to use them, consult a vet beforehand.

Are essential oils bad for dogs?

Essential oils will have a different effect on dogs as they do on us. They have a much stronger sense of smell and it can affect them in different ways. Like cats, essential oils should never be placed on the dog's skin. It can cause irritation and other health-related issues.

Essential oils dangerous for dogs

  • Cassia Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Oregano Oil
  • Pine Oil
  • Sweet Birch Oil
  • Thyme Oil
  • Wintergreen Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Pennyroyal Oil

Again, please note that not all oils are on the list, so contact your vet before using any essential oils.

Essential oils okay for dogs

  • Cedarwood Oil
  • Chamomile Oil
  • Citrus Oil
  • Frankincense Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Spearmint Oil
  • Rose Oil
  • Fennel Oil

Whilst these oils are thought to be safe for dogs, it is always worth being extra cautious and ensuring that your pet's health is the top priority.

Why should we worry about essential oils and our pets?

One reason you should worry about essential oils and your pets is that unlike us they cannot easily tell us if they are distressed or in pain.
If you were to get advice from your vet that you can use a particular essential oil, there is a chance that your dog or cat could be allergic to that essential oil.

I am allergic to some shellfish and have been since a child. I have a friend who is very allergic to garlic and lavender. A small amount of garlic will induce a restriction in her throat and cause breathing issues which can be life-threatening and the scent of lavender in soap or candles will have a similar effect on her breathing. 

Now for me or my friend, we can quickly work out that we have eaten or inhaled something which is having an adverse reaction and take medication or seek help but your cat or dog is not going to be able to convey the issue until its causing them real problems and you find the situation becoming potentially life-threatening.

So even if you are acting on the advice of a vet and only using recommended essential oils then it is still advisable to be extremely cautious and watch out for any changes to your cat or dogs behaviour that would indicate they are in any sort of distress or discomfort.

Essential oils harmful to cats and dogs when intended for personal use

It can also be the case that your cats and dogs could be affected by your own use of essential oils. Cats and dogs have a much more sensitive olfactory system. For cats the quoted figures are in the range of more than 200 million odour sensors in their noses; humans have just 5-6 million. A cats sense of smell is 14 times better than that of humans.

For Dogs the figure is even more impressive. Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. The part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is about 40 times greater than ours.

So you can see they will be affected by our own use of essential oils even if they are not the intended target of the essential oils. What for us is pleasant could be overwhelming for your pet.

You may need to consider excluding them from the room where you are enjoying a diffuser, scented candle or some other form of delivery of essential oils for your own pleasure and relaxation. 

After you have used the essential oils it's important to pack them away out of the curious nose of a cat or dog and to ventilate the room so that any potential problems for your pets is removed from the area.

When using essential oils do pay particular attention to any spills that a cat or dog could walk through and they lick when cleaning their paws. They unlike us will lick to clean and can ingest anything they have come into contact with.

If you do suspect your cat or dog has ingested any essential oils and could be in any danger they do get in touch with a qualified veterinarian as it could be serious for their health if ignored. Always better to be safe than sorry.

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