Essential oil and pets - from a vet's perspective

Written by Dr Angeline, Vetmobile
I was approached the other day by a client to write about my views on essential oils. I’m also a client of hers and she sells a range of high quality essential oils in her shops. Clients of hers would like to know if essential oils are safe for their pets. 
Personally, I’m not an expert with regards to the health benefits of essential oils. I try to avoid artificial fragrance because of my sensitivity to smell and also because of the possible ill effects of some of these artificial compounds. I diffuse essential oils at home when I feel like it and I find that it supports relaxation. Relaxed pet caregivers tend to have relaxed pets and so I guess it benefits them in some ways.
Essential oils are concentrated volatile oils from plants. Hence, if a plant is potentially toxic to animals, it may be highly concentrated in essential oil form. Ingestion and topical use of essential oil is definitely not recommended, unless the essential oil has been diluted sufficiently for topical use, such as in dog shampoo with tea tree oil. Passive diffusers are generally safe but active diffusers may spray particles of oil on pets, which they may then ingest. (OASIS:Active diffusers use pumps or ultrasonic technology to force oil particles into the air, and they include glass nebulizers, ultrasonic, and vaporizer/humidifiers. Passive diffusion, on the other hand, works by evaporation of the volatile essential oils into the surrounding air. These include regular electric diffusers like the one we have! ). Cats tend to be more sensitive to smell so they may also develop respiratory distress with strong odour. In my opinion, less is always more. Diffusing essential oil at low concentration is always safer and more pleasant for everyone. 
There are a few essential oils that are toxic to pets if ingested:
Dogs: Tea Tree Oil, Pennyroyal, Oil of Wintergreen, and Pine Oils
Cats: Oil of wintergreen, Oil of sweet birch, Citrus oil (d-limonene), Pine oils, Ylang Ylang oil, Peppermint oil, Cinnamon oil, Pennyroyal oil, Clove oil, Eucalyptus oil, and Tea tree oil.
Marshall, J. (2020) Essential oils and dogs, ESSENTIAL OILS AND DOGS. Available at: (Accessed: 10 June 2023). 
Benson, K. (2020) Essential oils and cats, ESSENTIAL OILS AND CATS. Available at: (Accessed: 10 June 2023). 
Williams, F. (2013) Breasts: A natural and unnatural history. New York: Norton.

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