There seems to be a lot of internet chatter lately about what essential oils are safe for use within a home that is shared with fur balls. And because essential oils are near and oh-so-dear to me I thought I would talk about the how’s and whys behind what I call the Dirty Dozen EO’s as they relate to your pets.
With all the natural goodness that seems to be harnessed and carefully packed into those amber little bottles, its hard to imagine that one could possibly go wrong diffusing or otherwise utilizing any essential oil in the home…after all, they’re better than turning to certain home sprays that are laden with proprietary chemical concoctions….right?
Essential oils are chemicals too…just of natural origin. One specific type…lets say lavender oil contains dozens of complex chemicals that can be broken down into roughly three classifications: esters, phenols and acids. All essentials oils are classified as VOC’s (AKA Voalitle Organic Compounds)
Wait…back that up…what?
Yes VOC’s. You heard right.
And don’t worry, they do not carry nearly as many of the harmful health issues those in a paint or other chemicals do.
But with all things, moderation is key and if you use too much (or in some cases, any at all) you could be putting yourself or your pets health in jeopardy.
Essential oils, particularly when diffused into the air we breath can cause toxicity in our animal housemates because they do not metabolize essential oils the same way we do. When we breath essential oils in they enter our bloodstream and are utilized by our bodies in various ways. For pets however (birds, dogs and cats) many chemical components of essential oils cannot be processed by their livers often building up and causing toxicity. Because essential oils are so potent, never apply undiluted oils directly onto a pets skin or administer orally. For oils that are considered safe, the dilution rate is rarely more than 0.10% – 1% and should always be cross checked with your local vet.
Essential Oil toxicity can vary case by case but warning signs usually encompass some of the following:
- Squinting of eyes
- Hives, dermatitis or abnormal scratching
- Fast respiratory rate
- Excessive drooling
In more severe or latent cases
- Partial or total loss of consciousness
Another thing to bear in mind when you are considering using essential oils around or on your pets (and especially for yourself or family members for that matter!!!) is that not all essential oils are made equal. Many essential oils are are cut, diluted or otherwise adulterated. Be sure to do your homework on the company and only buy oils from companies that can provide quality testing data. I myself prefer to use Young Living because not only do they stand behind their EO’s but are involved in the growing and manufacture of all their oils… but I have and do use some other brands that your welcome to read about here.
The following list is not all inclusive and only lists EO’s that have an established track record with causing toxicity. ALL essential oils are TOXIC if ingested by our pets unless under the direct supervision of a veterinary professional.
This list applies to both dogs and cats
” * ” denotes a specific toxicity to cats NOT dogs
- Cinnamon* (note: this EO should NEVER be applied topically to any pet)
- Lavender* (many chemical components cannot be processed by a cats liver)
- Peppermint* (highly irritating to feline mucus membranes)
- Tea Tree (BOTH DOGS & CATS – can be fatal)
- Thyme (Both Dogs & Cats)
The take away from this post is not to be scared to use essential oils around your home if you share your space with animals but to be conscious of how often you are using these potentially dangerous EO’s. Moderation and dilution is key. Make sure that all essential oils are always out of reach of both pets and kids and avoid diffusing those listed above in spaces that your pets share.
Its important to note that I am not a veterinarian. Nor am I qualified to offer medical advice. If you have concerns about whether your pet is suffering from EO related toxic exposure please contact your local vet immediately.