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Pet Safety: Do the Benefits of Essential Oils Outweigh the Risks?

Pet SafetyAlthough they’ve been used for generations, essential oils have exploded onto the natural health and wellness scene. Touted for their positive effects on depression, insomnia, and even the common cold, essential oils aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, pet safety can be significantly compromised when the oils are breathed in or ingested. Before you install a diffuser in your home, we offer a quick guide to protect your cat or dog from a dangerous situation.

Compelling Evidence

You may have heard about the use of essential oils among people, but did you know that many owners incorporate oils into their pet care regimen? Sure, they’re natural, but that doesn’t mean they’re always safe or even effective.

Essential oils are extracted from plants. Sometimes, they’re up to 100% pure; other times, they’re mixed to formulate various products like potpourris, flavorings, personal care products, and even insecticides.

A Look Around

Essential oils can be dangerous to animals, but the degree of illness depends on how the oils are used. Reed diffusers, melting wax burners, plug-ins, diffusing jewelry, etc. are all considered passive and have a smaller risk of inhaling oil particles. However, pets can be at risk if they chew on or eat any products designed for essential oils.

Active products are those that aggressively irritate the respiratory system via the lungs or create symptoms after grooming fur and skin on which oil vapor has fallen. Water diffusers are also popular, but they threaten pet safety.

Essential oils should never be applied directly to a pet’s skin.

Proactive Pet Safety

Dogs and cats have heightened senses of smell and can have subtle, unexpected negative reactions to strong scents. Cats also can’t effectively metabolize essential oils due to the absence of an important liver enzyme. Birds, pocket pets, and other exotic animals may also demonstrate high sensitivities.

To keep your pet safe from essential oil-related harm, try keeping all products out of the house, especially the following:

  • Anise
  • Birch
  • Bitter almond
  • Camphor
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Garlic
  • Hyssop
  • Juniper
  • Mugwort
  • Oregano
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Thyme
  • Tea tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Wormwood
  • Yarrow
  • Ylang-ylang

Signs of a pet poisoning due to essential oils can involve drooling, vomiting, breathing problems, tremors, difficulty walking, decreased heart rate, decreased body temperature, and extreme behavioral changes.

Exposure to essential oils should be treated as an emergency. We’re open every day to help support pet safety as much as possible. If you notice troublesome signs, please contact us immediately. You can also consult the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Poison Control Unit at 888-426-4435.

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