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Using essential oils with pets

can essential oils be used with cats and dogs

As a professional clinical aromatherapist, I get asked often about how to use essential oils safely with pets at home.
Can essential oils be safely used with cats and dogs? 
Several posts on social media and online suggest that diffusing essential oils around your pets can be toxic and dangerous, others say that diffusing essential oils are “safe” around cats and dogs. The truth is, nobody really knows as there’s never been any scientific or medical research made public. So, here’s my professional and personal (pug-mumma) opinion.

The Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC) states that cats are especially susceptible to the effects of essential oils since they do not possess the required enzymes to break down and metabolise them and if used inappropriately or over long periods they could have fatal consequences. However, it isn’t clear what they mean by ‘inappropriate use’.

We know that most of the risks involving the use of essential oils and pets come from the topical application of high doses of essential oils. I would recommend that you never apply essential oils to your pets skin, wounds or fur.

I do not believe that there are any essential oils that one should avoid diffusing around cats and dogs (apart from the ones that I’ve listed below.. which would also not be suitable for humans).

Diffusing/burning essential oils around pets.

1. Diffuse responsibly.
Diffusing essential oils for a long period of time into a room is unnecessary and can be a waste of precious essential oils and your money. When using essential oils in a diffuser or burner around pets, don’t leave your diffuser running all day.
I always recommend to my clients that you diffuse essential oils for no longer than 30 minutes into a small room, keeping a window slightly open for fresh air.

2. Don’t add too many drops into your diffuser.
You don’t need to go mad with essential oils, less really is more.
3-5 drops into your diffuser or burner is enough.

3. Make sure your pet can leave the room if they wish.

4. Avoid diffusing any from this list, they are considered toxic for pets (and humans). You’ll see from the oils in this list, they are not typically among the most common essential oils used today and personally, I wouldn’t diffuse any of these as a room fragrance.
Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Birch (Betula)
Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
Boldo (Peumus boldus)
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
Cassia (Cassia fistula)
Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Savory (Satureja)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)* Suitable to diffuse for humans, but not young children.
Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

So.. to finish
When using essential oils in a diffuser or burner around pets, don’t leave your diffuser running all day. Use it in a well-ventilated room with fresh air and ensure that your pet can leave the area if they wish. If using in an enclosed space, no more than 30 minutes should be enough.