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Posted November in Essential Oil Basics by Rocky Mountain Oils

Are Essential Oils Safe For Pets?

As the old saying goes: "Dogs are man's best friend."

But let's face it—whether you have a dog, cat, bird, fish, or any other animal for a pet, odds are you consider it part of your family.

As a pet owner, you want the best for your furry friend. For some people, "the best thing" might include seeking natural products to help keep your pet healthy, and with aromatherapy on the rise, more and more people are looking to essential oils as one of those natural alternatives. if so, this begs the question: are essential oils safe for pets? If you start searching for information about using essential oils on pets, you are going to find a variety of claims ranging from "never use essential oils on animals" to "go for it- it is safe to use essential oils on pets". With such conflicting advice, it can be difficult to decipher what is actually true and what is safe for your pet. 

To help make things a little clearer, and to help you do what's best for your pet, we've compiled information from sources we trust to answer some of your most common questions about using essential oils with pets

So Are Essential Oils Safe For Pets? 

Frankly, the real answer to this question is: we don't know. This is simply because there is a lack of information specifically about whether or not using essential oils on pets is safe. Very few studies have been done on this topic, and as a result, we have very little information about it. A main reason for this is that studies about whether essential oils are safe on pets would, obviously, have to involve animals, and we, along with many others, are against animal testing. 

With that being said, you will still find a range of answers for this question. Some people will say that essential oils are safe based on the current fact that there has not been an increase in animal hospitalizations as a result of using essential oils. On the other hand, people state that, even with the limited studies, we have seen cases where animals who are directly exposed to essential oils experienced severe side effects or even death. Thus, we should avoid using essential oils on animals. 

So, what's the answer? Scientifically, there is not enough evidence to support either side. As a result, we simply cannot advise on how you should or should not use essential oils on your pets. Should there be more studies and information available regarding whether essential oils are safe for pets, we may be able to change our answer in the future. But for the time being, there is, unfortunately, not enough evidence to give an honest answer either way. 

What If I Choose To Use Essential Oil On My Pet? 

Because there is insufficient research on this topic, using essential oils on your pet is a personal choice. However, if you do choose to use essential oils to care for your furry companions, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Be sure to consult with an aromatherapy specialist and your veterinarian before using essential oils on your pet. 
  • Keep your essential oils out of reach of pets. 
  • Do not give essential oils internally to your pet. Only use topically or through diffusion. 
  • When you apply oils topically, watch your pet to make sure they do not lick the area where you applied the oils, and watch for any allergic or negative reactions. If a reaction does occur, wash the area with soap and water, and rinse. Seek immediate veterinarian help if needed. 
  • Never apply essential oils near your pet's eyes; on the muzzle area; around the genitals; or inside the nose, ear, or mouth. 
  • Watch your pet's reaction to the oil's aroma; if they appear to not like it, remove it and do not force them to use essential oils. 
  • Always dilute the essential oil before applying topically. Most sources suggest diluting to a .5-1% dilution rate, which is 3-6 drops per 1 ounce of carrier oil. 
  • Avoid using essential oils that are extremely toxic to animals. See the lists below on what oils you should avoid using on your pets. 
  • Remember that less is more. Do not overuse essential oils or use them consistently with pets. Be sure to have ample rest periods in between uses. 

What Essential Oils Should I Not Use On My Pet? 

Animals metabolize and react differently to essential oils than humans do, and some plants are toxic to animals. We've listed below some of the essential oils that are toxic to animals. These lists are not comprehensive and are based mostly on testimonies of others and the principle ideas of how the chemicals are expected to cross-react with different animal species. Be sure to consult with an aromatherapist or veterinarian before using any essential oils on your pet, or if you are concerned about whether a specific oil is safe to use.

Essential Oils Toxic To Cats *
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon 
  • Clary Sage
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Geranium 
  • Grapefruit
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Marjoram
  • Orange 
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang
Essential Oils Toxic To Dogs *
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Orange
  • Oregano
  • Pine
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
Other Animals

Many people recommend that you do not use any essential oils on fish, reptiles, birds, and rodents or small mammals. 

A Note About Essential Oils And Cats

If you have cats roaming around your home and you wish to use essential oils, it is important to note that cats are generally more susceptible to certain oil toxicities than dogs or other animals. Because cats are so small, they can experience the effects of poisoning from smaller volumes of essential oil. Plus, a cat's tendency to clean themselves may lead to oral contact when oils are applied topically. 

Also, a cat's liver does not undergo the common process of glucuronidation, which helps metabolize various compounds. Because a cat's liver does not undergo this process, chemicals can accumulate and become toxic metabolites. This is particularly true for compounds such as phenol, which is in many essential oils. As a result, cats can experience liver failure, seizures, and other serious illnesses as a result of essential oil poisoning. 

Because of cats' heightened sensitivity to essential oils, many people recommend avoiding using essential oils on or around cats altogether. However, should you choose to use essential oils on your cat, consult an aromatherapy specialist and your veterinarian first. 

How Do I Know If My Pet Is Having A Reaction To Essential Oils? 

Should you choose to use essential oils around or on your pet, it is important to watch for any signs of an allergic or negative reaction. Some common symptoms to watch out for include: 

  • Behavioral changes such as depression, weakness, or fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing, such as labored breath, shortness of breath, fast breathing, coughing, or wheezing
  • Vomiting and/or drooling 
  • Tremors and seizures 
  • Ataxia, including difficulty, walking, wobbling, stumbling, and paralysis of the back legs
  • Skin irritations, or redness or burns around the nose or mouth 

If your pet experiences any of these or other severe reactions, remove the essential oil immediately with soap and water. You may want to rinse and repeat a few times to make sure the oil is completely removed. In severe cases, seek immediate veterinary treatment. 

Keep Your Pet's Best Interest At Heart

Although essential oils can be a natural alternative to some medications or treatments, that does not always mean that they are safe, especially for animals. Since there is a lack of evidence supporting the use of essential oils on pets, we recommend taking great caution should you choose to do so. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before using essential oils on or around your pet. If you are hesitant to use oils, talk to your vet about other natural alternatives that you could use. Whatever you decide, be sure to always keep your pet's best interest at heart. After all, pets are the only thing on earth that will love you more than they love themselves! 

Want to learn more about essential oils for pets? Check out these links here:

For more information about using essential oils on pets, check out these reliable sources: 


Dogs Naturally:

Holistic Animal Association:


Oily Vet: