Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog
Do Natural Essential Oils Poison Pets?
As natural remedies take the place of chemical-heavy cleaners and other possibly toxic household products, it is important to know that they are not without their own risks.
Of course, when used correctly, essential oils can be effective for various health concerns. But despite their positive effects on people, some essential oils poison pets.
Upon Closer Look
Essential oils are extracted from plants via steam, water distillation, or cold pressing. The oils often smell more intense than the plants they are extracted from simply because they contain higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Depending on the product, essential oils may be added to carrier oils which dilute the purity or strength of the essential oils. Pure essential oils poison pets more readily.
Essential oils can be added to cosmetics, personal care products, perfumes, and cleaning products. When used in aromatherapy or massage therapy, essential oils are thought to improve the functions of the human body, but the following essential oils should be off-limits to pets:
- Tea tree
- Ylang ylang
- Wintergreen or peppermint
- Sweet birch
Essential Oils Poison Pets
The higher the concentration of an essential oil, the more dangerous it is to pets. Many household or personal care products have about 20% or less volatile organic compounds from essential oils in them. However, diffusers typically use essential oils that are highly concentrated, and this is where pets get into big trouble.
Inhaling essential oils can create problems for pets, but if tiny droplets fall on their skin from a diffuser they may not only absorb the oils, they can ingest them when self-grooming. Pets that have pre-existing health conditions may have even more difficulty metabolizing the oils.
Symptoms to Watch For
Ideally, essential oils should not be used inside a home shared by pets. However, if a diffuser is employed at home, it’s critical that you watch your pet’s behavior closely.
- Respiratory distress
- Muscle tremors
- Redness in or around the mouth
- Pawing at the face
Be sure that pets don’t have access to essential oils at home, do not apply shampoos or perfumes that contain oils to your pet’s coat, and watch for worrisome behaviors.
Keeping Safe and Sound
It may not always result in an extreme pet emergency, but the truth is that essential oils poison pets. The severity depends on your pet, and the type and concentration of the essential oil. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s r