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A word about Essential Oils and animals – which EO’s are toxic to dogs and cats.

Thanks to our growing desire to turn to more holistic or natural treatments, vets have recently seen more dogs presenting with essential oil toxicity. The most common culprits for essential oil toxicity in dogs are tea tree oil, pennyroyal, wintergreen, and pine oils.


Unfortunately, while many essential oils are beneficial for humans, they’re often harmful to pets. This also applies to oils that you aren’t placing directly on your pet. For instance, people frequently use essential oils with diffusers, but even using an oil in a diffuser or a warmer can potentially make your animal sick!


Why are some essential oils toxic for dogs and cats?

That’s what makes essential oils so useful. If they didn’t react with our bodies, they wouldn’t have any effect. But this is also why many essential oils and animals do not mix. Many oils are basically poisonous or toxic, because their reactions mess up a pet’s natural body chemistry. Human bodies can process a lot of weird stuff, but animals are often much more limited in what is safe for them. While some essential oils may be beneficial to us, our pets can’t process them.


In order to prevent a sudden rush to the veterinarian, it's valuable to be aware that certain essential oils can be detrimental for dogs and cats. While these oils might have advantages for humans, our canine companions possess an extremely sensitive sense of smell, rendering them particularly vulnerable to adverse consequences. Symptoms like breathing issues, excessive tear production, a runny nose, feelings of nausea and vomiting, as well as lethargy and a reduced heart rate, are among the potential negative effects that could manifest. 


Ingesting certain essential oils can lead to severe throat irritation, inflammation of the lungs, or blockage of the airways. To prevent unintended consumption, it's crucial to ensure that essential oils are kept out of the reach of curious pets. The appealing aroma might attract them even more. Therefore, it's vital to securely store all oils where they are inaccessible, and any accidental spills should be promptly cleaned to prevent your canine companion from taking a hasty taste.


It's never recommended to directly apply oils to your pet's skin. This could result in skin irritations, harm to the nervous system, triggering coma and tremors, or causing damage to internal organs. One commonly found household oil, Tea Tree oil, contains a chemical compound called terpene 4-ol, which is extremely harmful to dogs. Even a small amount of this concentrated oil can be fatal to a canine companion.


Essential oil quality matters.

The quality of the essential oil matters a lot. Low-quality oils can contain additives or impurities that can be harmful to both humans and pets. Make sure you are sourcing high quality, natural oils, that are 100% pure and have undergone third party purity testing. Understanding how they are extracted makes a big difference. Were they extracted under the cleanest and purest methods such as CO2, or with the use of non-natural solvents or other toxic chemicals.


How do essential oils get into our dog and cat’s bodies?

Your dog or cat can either absorb essential oils through their skin or ingest them through drinking or licking, absorbed through the skin and inhaled through their nose. You should avoid certain essential oils in your household cleaning products, essential oil diffusers, or candles and pet grooming products.


Oils that are harmful to dogs include, but are not limited to:

- Citrus
- Pennyroyal
- Eucalyptus
- Peppermint
- Pine
- Sweet Birch
- Tea Tree (melaleuca)
- Wintergreen
- Ylang ylang
- Star Anise
- Clove
- Sage
- Basil
- Thyme
- Juniper
- Yarrow
- Garlic


Oils that are harmful to cats include, but are not limited to:

- Wintergreen
- Sweet birch
- Citrus
- Bergamont
- Grapefruit
- Pine
- Ylang ylang
- Peppermint
- Cinnamon
- Pennyroyal
- Clove
- Eucalyptus
- Tea tree
- Thyme
- Oregano


For example, oils that are high in phenols, such as Thyme, can put extra pressure on a cat's liver metabolism pathways, so limit their exposure to these oils. 


Lavender, chamomile, and frankincense are generally considered safe when used in moderation for cats. However, consult your veterinarian for personalised advice.


What are the signs of essential oil poisoning?

Be aware of these common symptoms of essential oil toxicity so that you can act fast.

  • panting, wheezing or coughing
  • struggling to walk or problems with balance and coordination
  • drooling
  • weakness and lethargy
  • muscle tremors
  • lower body temperature and low heart rate
  • pawing at the face or mouth
  • burns or redness on the skin, lips, tongue or gums
  • vomiting
  • watery eyes or nose


If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, wash off any oil from their skin or paws and take them to the vet immediately.  


We recommend always consulting with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's healthcare regimen.