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The Good, The Bad and The Smelly About Essential Oils and Your Pet

The Good, The Bad and The Smelly About Essential Oils and Your Pet.

Peter H. Eeg DVM

Poolesville Veterinary Clinic

Poolesville MD

[email protected]


Essential oils and the diffusers used are gaining popularity on the market, but they may not be safe for your pets.

Essential oil diffusers release molecules of the essential oils into the air that you and your pets inhale and come into contact with There are many claims about their health benefits, but no proven research.

Essential oils don't pair well with cats and birds. Birds are very sensitive to essential oils due to air sacs in their bones where the oils can concentrate. Dogs have a bit more tolerance but can suffer skin irritation and liver damage.  Cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver and it makes these essentials oils toxic to their health.

Many people have seen ads that invite you to apply the essential oils to the ear flaps of dogs and cats.  Cats especially groom themselves constantly and will lick up and swallow the applied oils.  This can potentially cause oral irritation, gastrointestinal upset or organ injury.  Most dangerous to your furry friend is the potential for the oils can cause some severe liver problems.

The oils are often dispersed via the use of diffusers. There are actually different types of diffusers on the market and you will want to make sure you use a passive style diffuser for yourself, in a room, where your pets cannot go to.  Passive diffusers simply evaporate the oils and produce the natural smell.

It's the active diffusers you'll want to avoid. They expel micro droplets of the oil and if your dog, kitty or bird friends gets into that material as it settles onto their fur and feathers. They can groom and preen it off themselves and that's where they can get into health problems.

Symptoms to be on the lookout for if your furry pals gets into the essential oils:

  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • tremors
  • depression
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • ataxia (wobbliness)
  • respiratory distress
  • low heart rate
  • low body temperature
  • convulsions

Discuss the use of Essential oils in your home and around your pets so that you can keep

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