Essential oils are one of the most popular health and wellness trends in the past few years. Essential oils (EOs) are the concentrated oil of the leaves, flowers, or roots of plants, distilled to purity and occasionally diluted by "carrier" oils. While you may find that using essential oils helps you relax, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these oils can also pose safety risks to pets.
There is a lack of scientific research available about essential oils and their effects on cats and dogs to support the idea that they are safe. From experience, we know that many EOs are not safe for pets. It's essential (pun intended) to be cautious when diffusing, applying, or administering EOs to your pet. Many essential oils contain compounds and molecules that can cause damage to the skin, intestines, and lungs while entering their body and, once inside, can cause damage to organs in the body such as the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Essential oils that cause this kind of extensive bodily harm are often concentrated or improperly diluted.
Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils. Due to the lack of a particular liver enzyme (glucuronyl tranferases) they are unable to metabolize the components of essential oils and can become very ill, resulting in toxicity. EO toxicity can happen fast or build up over time. The results can range from respiratory distress, liver damage, anemia, or even organ failure and a whole lot more. If your dog or cat has been exposed to essential oils and you see any symptoms, call your veterinarian or animal poison control immediately.
Essential oils should be used sparingly and indirectly around pets. If you choose to use essential oils in your home, it should be in an open air diffuser away from your pet.