Essential Oils and Pets
Pets are family, and we take special care to keep them safe and healthy. It is true that essential oils are good for us in many ways but when it comes to children, the elderly, and pets, these oils can be dangerous.
Essential oils can be toxic to household pets – cats, dogs or birds. We need to look at what can be done to keep them safe from the dangerous effects essential oils can have on their bodies and their psyche.
Though cats seem to suffer more in these cases, other animals are vulnerable too.
No Topical Application of Essential Oils
Do not use essential oils topically on your pets. Essential oils contain chemicals extracted from the core of plants. These chemicals are absorbed very quickly by the skin. Your pet could develop painful rashes and itchy skin conditions if you apply essential oils or products that contain essential oils on their skin. It could be anything from shampoo, anti-tick powders, soap or direct application of essential oils with or without dilution. And if the pet happens to lick the area where the oil has been applied, the oil gets absorbed through the tongue and will give gastrointestinal discomfort and pain in the animal.
No Oral Intake of Essential Oils
There is no question of administering essential oils orally when it comes to pets unless you have consulted a vet or a professional qualified to advise in this matter. Do not let your pet ingest essential oils at any cost without medical supervision.
No Inhalation of Essential Oils
When using diffusers, keep your pets away from the area. Inhalation of essential oils is dangerous for your pet and can cause behavioural changes, respiratory problems and can also adversely affect the pet’s central nervous system. This can seriously damage your pet.
When there are pets in the house it is better to use diffusers for short periods with longer intervals between diffusions.
Oils that are Poisonous for Your Pets
Some essential oils that are extremely poisonous to dogs:
Cinnamon, Citrus, Peppermint, Pine, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Wintergreen, Ylang Ylang, Mustard, Juniper, Clove and Garlic are some of them. These oils are toxic in either use – oral or topical.
Some essential oils that are toxic for cats:
Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, Spruce, Tea Tree and Thyme.
Some essential oils that are harmful to birds:
Tea Tree, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Pine (All Tree Oils) Cinnamon, Oregano, Citronella, Clove etc.
There are comprehensive lists of essential oils that are poisonous for your pets that can be accessed online.
Safe Use of House Cleaning Products
House hygiene products, especially floor cleaners and disinfectants should be screened for toxic essential oils in a house that has pets. Today, with essential oils replacing fragrances in keeping with consumer awareness trends, it would be wise to check for dangerous oils these products might contain. Some cleaning products tend to use Lemon/Pine/Eucalyptus in their essential oil form. This could be dangerous for cats and dogs if any raw area of their skin comes in contact with the product or if they inhale the vapor from the product on a daily basis.
Oils that may be Useful for Your Pets
Some experts say that certain oils like Lavender, Chamomile, Spearmint and Helichrysum, Rose, Jasmine and other floral oils are safe and useful for pets. But it is always better to consult a vet or a qualified professional in the field before using any of these for your pets.
The safety of your pets is paramount and it is always better not to use most essential oils topically or orally be it a cat or a dog or a bird. We recommend checking the ingredients that go into any product you use for your pet to ensure that there are no dangerous essential oils used in the product and also check the ingredients in any household or cosmetic product that comes in close contact with your pet. Better safe than sorry, always.
Author’s Bio: Vidya Nayak is a professional aromatherapist and a tarot card reader who lives in Bengaluru, India. She also has a brand of vegan natural handmade soaps - Etaani, a part of the natural living initiative promoted by her.