Are essential oils safe for pets?

Original Question: Are essential oils deadly to dogs? - Arlette

Are essential oils safe for pets? Apr 25, 2018

Hi Arlette,

Thanks for your question.

Essential oils are typically compounds found in the seeds, bark, leaves, stem, and roots of flowers. They are often collected and concentrated through an industrial or chemical process to yield a liquid that has an aromatic quality and characteristic fragrance resembling the plant or flower they were extracted from. They are often found in commercial cleaning products, homemade cleaning products, potpourris, aroma products and household diffusers.

Exposure to these essential oils can create health issues. They often cause skin reactions if your pet has an allergy or sensitivity to them. If ingested, they can cause irritation to the digestive tract resulting in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and inappetence. If inhaled, they can cause detrimental reactions to the pulmonary lining resulting in coughing, difficulty breathing, asthma, and even pulmonary edema. Contact with the eyes will likely cause inflammation, irritation, squinting and excessive tear production.

Most of the products that have these oils in them are not easily accessible to pets. A big concern is if a dog chews apart a commercial product that has this stored inside of it. Cats could end up licking an essential oil liquid or dried up residue left in a tray that was left out or heated up with a candle. So good advice as always is to look around your home for anything that your pets can access that may cause harm. You have to stay vigilant and always ‘cat-proof’ and ‘dog-proof’ your home.

In your question, you ask if exposure to this product could be deadly. It is hard to imagine that enough product could be ingested or accessed to create a fatal reaction, it may be possible but very unlikely. In most cases, they cause and irritation that makes a pet very uncomfortable and could result in expensive medical treatment.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Clayton Greenway 

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