Over the past few months, there have been an alarming number of social media posts warning of the dangers of essential oil diffusion around pets. While I am not an expert on the uses of essential oils for pets, I can give you a list of oils that should be avoided if you are using diffusers. Cats are definitely more sensitive to essential oil inhalation than dogs. Symptoms may be subtle at first; advanced liver damage may occur before you notice a problem. If you are interested in more information about the safe use of essential oils for various ailments or behavioral issues, I recommend exploring animalEO essential oil products made by Dr. Melissa Shelton.
Our animals are smaller and more sensitive than we are when it comes to using essential oil products. Treatments can affect animals differently than they do humans and each animal within a species can have have variable tolerance levels. Oils can be toxic for our pets; it is imperative to use only the highest quality oils that have been proven to be safe. Symptoms of toxicity may include drooling, vomiting, tremors, liver failure, seizures, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, coughing, sneezing, reverse sneezing, and death.
Oils may contain chemicals called phenols, monoterpenes, phenylpropanes, and ketones that can be dangerous when used around animals. Essential oils that may not be safe for pets include anise, birch, bitter almond, camphor, cassia, cloves, garlic, horseradish, hyssop, juniper, mugwort, mustard, oregano, pennyroyal, thyme, ruta graveolens, sassafras, savory, tansy, tea tree oil, thuja, wintergreen, wormwood, and yarrow. While citrus and pine may be safe for dogs and horses, they are not safe for use around cats, rabbits, or birds.
Not only are diffusers a potential source of toxicity, but aromatherapy candles and potpourri are also concerns. Essential oils should never be used full strength on animals and should always be highly diluted with a carrier oil. Always buy high quality oils specifically made for use in animals. Use them only under the instruction and guidance of a professional with knowledge of essential oil usage. Many of the plants and herbs used to make essential oils are safe for use with pets, but the concentrated oils become toxic. If you sleep with an oil diffuser in your bedroom, please have your animals sleep elsewhere.
High quality essential oils are generally fairly expensive. If you find a cheap version, beware those products may have more potential for contamination, may be very diluted, or may not be pure.