Perusing the aisles of many pharmacies, you’re likely to come across small vials of essential oils and products regaling their cure-all properties. From eliminating nausea to decreasing anxiety, essential oils have been used for generations as folk remedies but are now all the rage. Many people claim to benefit from their use, so it’s no surprise these oils are fast becoming accepted for medicinal use among pets.
Essential oils and pets may be touted as an effective alternative to pharmaceuticals, but are they entirely safe? The team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital wants to help pet owners become more knowledgeable about essential oils and the possible danger they can pose to our animal friends.
Essential Oils 101
Essential oils are highly concentrated compounds derived from plants. Each distinct smell is associated with healing properties, which can also create a calming, relaxing, or even energizing effect on the user.
The compounds in essential oils are referred to as volatile, which means they can quickly change to a gaseous state from a liquid or solid form at room temperature. These compounds often come in solid perfume, liquid potpourri, and oil preparations. In most cases, oils are used externally for their scent-based properties, although some are promoted for internal use, which is controversial given the potential for toxicity.
Essential Oils That are Toxic to Pets
Since most people use oils as aromatherapy, their use for pets can seem innocuous. However, small pets (particularly birds), cats, and those with compromised health or respiratory illnesses should be kept away from all forms of essential oils. Cats are more susceptible to essential oil toxicity than dogs, due to the fact they lack the enzyme needed to protect their liver from poisonous fumes.
There are known essential oils that are toxic to pets and should be removed from the home. Those that are off-limits to cats include:
- Tea tree
Those not suitable for dogs include:
Even with products that are FDA-approved and marketed as pet-safe, it’s a good idea to contact the team at Animal Kind for additional information or for more appropriate options for your pet.
Essential Oils and Pets
While there are many pet-safe remedies out there (such as Bach’s Rescue Remedy), it’s important to practice safety and awareness when it comes to essential oils and pets:
- Always give your pet the option to escape the fumes.
- When diffusing, use the lowest dose recommended.
- Keep all oils, including liquid potpourri, in a secure, closed cupboard.
- Never use essential oils around birds or those with compromised health.
- Know the signs of toxicity in pets.
- Supervise your pet around diffusers.
- Speak to your veterinarian beforehand to ensure the safety of the essential oil.
Although essential oils may be a wonderful way to increase the emotional and physical health of pets and people, it’s always best to play it safe. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.