Essential Oil Safety For Pets

Essential oils have increasingly become popular as a natural ingredient and for medicinal uses. From aromatherapy to bug spray, they can be found in a lot of products including some you may even use for your pets. Not every essential oil is safe for pets and some can’t tolerate any oils.

If you have pets of any kind whether that be cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, or birds it is important to understand how your use of essential oils may affect your pets. Speak with your vet before using any essential oils with your pets. And just like with humans, essential oils should never be used without first diluting it.

Essential Oil Poisoning

Essential oils can cause your pets to become extremely sick. Symptoms may include:

  • Unsteadiness on the feet
  • Difficulty walking
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing (labored breathing, fast breathing, panting, coughing, or wheezing-these are not a normal thing for cats!)
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Redness or burns on the lips, gums, tongue, or skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low body temperature

If you expect your pet to be suffering from essential poisoning contact your vet immediately. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is available 24/7 by phone (888) 426-4435. *A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.*

What oils you use, their concentration, dose, and whether it was applied topically or consumed could produce different reactions with every pet. Pet size and age can also play a role in their reaction and some pets may be more tolerable of one oil more so than another. Toxicity or poisoning could appear immediately or over time.

Hydrosols & Liquid Potpourri

Hydrosols are the distilled steam left over during the essential oil making process. They still contain remnants of the essential oils. While they are very diluted, they can still cause issues for some pets. Some animals are able to tolerate hydrosols but generally, you should avoid using them around your pets, especially if it is made from a plant toxic to them.

Liquid potpourri is exactly what it sounds like, liquid potpourri. It is an alternative to dried flowers and is much more dangerous to animals. It can be made up of essential oils and perfumes that are either derived from plants or are synthetic. These should also be avoided around pets who are sensitive.

Essential Oil Safety

There are many products out there for pets that contain essential oils including ones that may be toxic to them! Make sure you look at ingredients in pet products before buying them.

Essential oils should never be used undiluted or internally on animals! Always make sure that any essential oils that your pet can tolerate or not considered toxic to them are always diluted.

Diffusers can still be used in your home if used properly. Avoid using oils that may be toxic to your pets and place your diffuser in a room that the pets rarely visit or are not allowed in. Make sure to keep it in a location where your pets cannot knock it over. Do not use diffusers at all around birds, ferrets, young and old animals, and those with respiratory problems. The best option would be to save the use of a diffuser while at work.

Always keep essential oils out of reach of pets. If knocked over, especially while open, could cause some serious issues with your pets. Never use essential oils undiluted.


Cats are rather sensitive to essential oils and can become irritated. These oils, once absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or consumed, get processed by the liver and other organs. Cats do not have the right enzymes to break down and get rid of the oils. This can lead to a build-up of toxic oils in their system that they cannot process. They are also very sensitive to phenols which can be found in many essential oils.

Here are some oils you should avoid using with cats. This is not a complete list and each pet may react differently to each oil.

  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Melaleuca/Tea Tree Oil
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Wintergreen
  • Peppermint
  • Spruce
  • Thyme
  • Birch
  • Cassia
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Any oils containing phenol


Generally, if it is not safe for cats it is usually not safe for ferrets. In the case of essential oils, ferrets are just like cats and their liver cannot break down the oils which can build up in their system. However, it is recommended that all essential oils should be avoided with ferrets.


Dogs have a strong sense of smell so essential oils can irritate them because of how concentrated they are. Some are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Puppies and dogs with liver issues have a hard time processing essential oils so they should be avoided with at-risk dogs.

Here are some oils you should avoid using with dogs. This is not a complete list and each pet may react differently to each oil.

  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Citrus
  • Juniper
  • Sweet Birch
  • Rosemary
  • Pine
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Melaleuca/Tea Tree Oil
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Wintergreen


Birds have a very sensitive respiratory tract so it is recommended that essential oils not be used around them or allow them to inhale the oils.

Other Pets

Talk with your vet and do your own research to see how essential oils may affect any other pets you may have. It’s better to be safe then sorry so if you can not find any information or don’t know if an oil is safe to use with or around your pet, do not use it.

It is important to keep your pets safe and know that not everything we use is safe for them. Always talk to your vet before using something new with your pets and always know what oils could be toxic to them.

Do Essential Oils Pose a Risk to Pets?
Is the Latest Home Trend Harmful to Your Pets? What You Need to Know!
Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
Essential Oils and Cats: A Potentially Toxic Mix
Essential Oils and Cats
Essential Oils for Pets – Medicine or Toxin?
Are Essential Oils Harmful to Cats and Dogs?

Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. Licensing is not available in the United States for an herbalist to practice herbal medicine.  If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. Every person is different and I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for everyone.  You are responsible for your own health and any decision to alter your health is your own choice. Please consult a doctor before making any serious health changes.

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