The Blogs
Posted in Essential Oil Basics by Rocky Mountain Oils

Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Cats? Understanding the Safety of Essential Oils for Pets

Pets are part of the family. Like any family member, you’ll want the best for your dog, cat, or other animal companion. You may be hesitant to use pet products with artificial ingredients and harsh chemicals, and wondering if essential oils are safe for pets. Is lavender essential oil safe for pets? What about peppermint oil, tea tree oil, or essential oil blends

Anecdotally, some pet owners report using essential oils to help with separation anxiety, fleas and ticks, patchy coats, or other conditions. Many essential oils neutralize bad odors, prevent fungal growth, treat skin conditions, and help soothe anxiety naturally thanks to various plant compounds. 

But is it okay to use essential oils on pets like dogs and cats?

The answer is complicated. Animals often metabolize plant compounds differently than humans, so many essential oils that are safe for us may contain substances that are toxic to our four-legged family members. There are also some oils you can safely diffuse around animals, but shouldn’t use topically or in DIY household cleaners that your pet might lick or roll in.

Before using essential oils for dogs, cats, or other pets, we recommend consulting your veterinarian as well as an aromatherapist. Additionally, essential oils should never be used as a substitute for certified veterinary care. 

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand what essential oils are safe for pets:

Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

Unfortunately, there isn’t very much data about the safety of essential oils and animals. While there are some veterinary scientists, holistic pet healers, and aromatherapy experts who are exploring the medicinal use of essential oils for animals, there’s a limit to how far their studies can go without unethical animal testing. 

However, there are some facts that we do know about essential oils and pet safety.

Also Read - How To Use Essential Oils On Your Pets

Never Allow Pets To Ingest Essential Oils

Don’t put essential oils in your pet’s water or food. If you make DIY soaps or household cleaners with essential oils, don’t use them to wash bowls, litter boxes, or any other items that your pet might lick or chew. Even if you rinse these items thoroughly, you may accidentally leave residue that could be harmful to dogs, cats, or other animals if ingested.

Keep Essential Oils and Essential Oil Blends Out of Reach

If you’ve ever had a playful puppy or a curious kitten, you’ll know what can happen if they get into cabinets or under the sink. Always store your essential oils, essential oil blends, or homemade essential oil products in a place that’s inaccessible to animals. Not only will this protect your pet from accidental ingestion, it will also keep your essential oil collection from spilling and going to waste.

If Using Topically On Pets, Always Dilute In A Carrier Oil

The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center advises that essential oils should never be used on pets in their pure, concentrated form. If you decide to use pet-safe essential oils topically on your furry friend, always dilute them first in a carrier oil. Generally, it’s recommended to dilute essential oils to a .5-1% dilution rate, which is approximately 3-6 drops per one ounce of carrier oil. However, always err on the side of caution and dilute further if your pet has sensitive skin or allergies. 

Additionally, if you choose to use essential oils topically on your pet, keep them away from sensitive areas. Do not use essential oils, even when properly diluted, near your pet’s mouth, nose, eyes, rear end, genitals, or inside the ears. 

Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Cats? Never Leave Your Pet Unattended Around Essential Oils

While you may be tempted to diffuse some calming lavender oil when you leave Fido or Frisky home alone, we recommend against this. If the diffuser malfunctions and leaks, or if your pet knocks it over, they may ingest the oils orally. Occasionally, pets may also develop a sudden allergy to essential oil exposure. You should always keep your pet close and monitor their health when using essential oils so that you can take them to a veterinarian immediately, if needed.

Consider Your Pet’s Health History Before Using Essential Oils

Does your pet have sensitive skin, allergies, asthma, or another medical condition? How old is your pet? Are they over- or under-weight? If your dog, cat, or other animal is not in good health to begin with, please use caution and talk to your veterinarian prior to diffusing or administering any essential oils. An unhealthy or elderly animal may be more sensitive to potentially harmful effects.

Dogs vs. Cats (And Other Pets)

Are you a dog person or a cat person? We’re not taking sides! But we will encourage you to consider the species of the animals that share your home prior to using any essential oils for pets. 

Some essential oils can be used around dogs, but are highly toxic to cats. If you’re using essential oils around a cat, they also need to be monitored more closely than dogs. If your cat gets oils on its fur, it may accidentally ingest the oil while grooming.

If you have other animals in your family, consult a veterinarian first. Studies have found that lavender essential oil helps calm horses, but data regarding essential oils and other animals is even more scarce than research on dogs and cats. 

Using essential oils around birds and reptiles is not recommended. Never put essential oils into a fish tank or use to clean aquariums.

Check Out - Diffusing Essential Oils Around Your Pets

What Essential Oils are Safe for Dogs?

Essential oils that are generally considered safe for dogs include:

  • Lavender oil: May help with anxiety, stress, and hyperactivity
  • Frankincense oil: May help with inflammation and joint pain, may reduce anxiety
  • Cedarwood oil: May help treat skin irritations and act as a natural flea and tick repellent

Always use caution even with essential oils considered safe and consult your veterinarian as needed.

What Essential Oils are Toxic to Dogs?

Some essential oils are harmful to dogs and should never be used topically, even if properly diluted. If you are diffusing these oils in your home, make sure the diffuser is located in a well-ventilated area that’s far away from your dog’s bed, food, or play area.

Essential oils toxic to dogs may include, but is not limited to:

Also Read - Essential Oils For Dogs - Tips & Tricks

What Essential Oils are Safe for Cats?

Is lavender essential oil safe for cats?" Unfortunately, most essential oils are not considered safe for cats. Cats have a more delicate nervous system and smaller body size compared to dogs, making them more sensitive and susceptible to toxicity from harmful substances. As a result, some essential oils that are safe for dogs may not be safe for cats.

What Essential Oils are Toxic to Cats?

Essential oils and cats don’t mix. Essential oils that are harmful to cats and should never be used topically on your feline friend include, but are not limited to:

Tea tree oil in particular has been known to cause seizures and other neurological issues in cats. If you’re using tea tree oil or tea tree oil blends in your home, make sure to avoid areas where your cat may be present.

Warning Signs

Even when using essential oils that are considered safe for pets, always monitor your pet closely. Watch them for signs of negative reactions or allergies, which may include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Unusual drooling
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Unusual itching
  • Sudden changes in behavior, unusual low energy
  • Coughing, wheezing, or other difficulties breathing
  • Redness around the mouth, nose, paws, or other exposed skin
  • Difficulty walking, imbalance or stumbling, or paralysis of hind legs

Remember, much of the information that is known about essential oils and pets is based on anecdotal evidence. As the world learns more and new scientific studies become available, we’ll share updates so you can make the best choices for your dog or cat. Keep your pet’s best interests at heart. 

If you decide not to use essential oils for your pet, talk to your veterinarian about other natural alternatives and holistic products you can use.