Are essential oils safe for dogs and cats?

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Although it can be fun (and even sometimes beneficial to our health) to make use of essential oils in our homes, they're not always safe for our pets. The use of scented products such as reed diffusers, scented candles and essential oils has become incredibly popular both for home decor and wellness purposes, but if you've got four-legged family members, you need to be careful which products you choose to use in your home.

Today we'll be looking at some of the most commonly used oils and scents, and investigating whether they're safe for your furry friend.

Are essential oils safe to use around my pet?

Essential oils tend to provide the most potent scent when diffused within your home, and this is the most beneficial option in terms of health perks for humans, but unfortunately, it also makes it the most dangerous choice for your pet. Because of this, we recommend avoiding them as much as possible, or at the very least, selecting pet-safe essential oils.

Let's take a look at some of the most common oils and how they affect pets.

Lavender oil

As one of the most popular options on the market, there is a lot of conflicting information about whether lavender essential oils are safe for pets. The answer to this one comes down to concentration.

While there are compounds within lavender that can be toxic to your furry friend, when it is properly diluted, it can be safe in small amounts. This means that you can happily diffuse lavender essential oil in your home and it will be perfectly safe for your four-legged family member as long as it is well diluted and located somewhere they can't find a way to consume it.

Eucalyptus oil

Because eucalyptus is considered both toxic and poisonous for your four-legged friend, we suggest avoiding its usage throughout the home.

Even small amounts can cause adverse effects, and simply smelling this oil can pose a risk, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Citronella oil

Citronella oil is very much a grey area when it comes to dog safety. While it can be quite dangerous if ingested, and not so great if it gets on their skin, it can be safe in some circumstances.

For example, there are many products on the market that are designed specifically for dogs that contain citronella oil. These products are generally considered safe when used properly, although caution is still recommended.

Additionally, this essential oil is safe to use as an insect repellent as long as your dog cannot come into contact with, or ingest it.

When it comes to cats, however, citronella oil should be avoided entirely.

Chamomile oil

A lovely calming and soothing essential oil, chamomile is generally considered safe for pets.

If you intend on using this oil specifically for your pet, we recommend using products formulated for them and speaking with your vet first. However, when it comes to diffusing essential oil in your home, chamomile is generally considered safe.

Lemongrass oil

As long as it is properly diluted and used in a way where your pet cannot ingest it, as a general rule, lemongrass essential oil is safe.

For context, this means you can diffuse it in a well-ventilated room, not that you should be applying it to your four-legged friend or to yourself if your dog commonly licks you.

While some people will recommend the application of lemongrass oil to your pet in order to help protect them from insects, we strongly suggest avoiding this unless you're using a pet-specific product or following instructions from your vet.

Peppermint oil

Although super tasty for humans, peppermint oil is poisonous to pets. It should never be given to them either orally or topically and should not be diffused within the home.

Tea tree oil

While using tea tree oil on human skin can help cleanse and may even assist with certain skin concerns, it is considered poisonous to dogs.

We recommend avoiding diffusing it for this reason and would also suggest caution with your skincare if your pooch is likely to lick you.

Safety is a little higher for cats, but still not generally worth the risk.

Focus oil

Because there is no set recipe for what "focus" essential oil is made of, there's not really a solid answer on whether or not it is safe for your pet.

If you wish to diffuse focus within your home, check the ingredient list and ensure it only has pet safe essential oils in it.

Rosemary oil

Want to bring a bit of warmth and freshness to your home with rosemary essential oil? The good news is that when diluted correctly, this scent is safe for pets.

The only problem is they may expect a lamb roast dinner when they smell rosemary, so be prepared for some begging for food!

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More pet safety advice

For more information about keeping your pet safe in your home, check out the below articles or browse the Pet Safety section of our website.

Are essential oils safe on furniture?

While some oils can be safe for your pet when diluted and applied to furniture such as bedding, many common applications used by humans are not recommended.

For example, while spraying your bed with lavender spray may help you sleep, it isn't a great idea if your furry friend shares your bed, as human-safe essential oil concentrations are not the same as pet ones.

If you do want to apply essential oils safely to your furnishings, ensure that they're pet-safe options.

What about topical application?

Topical application is a completely different kettle of fish. As a general rule, however, we recommend avoiding it unless specifically recommended by your vet.

If you have applied products containing essential oils topically to yourself, we also suggest staying away from your pet until they are fully absorbed and ensuring that your pet does not lick the area.

Are scented candles with essential oils safe for my pet?

Scented candles, while lovely smelling, can pose the same health risks to your four-legged friend as their diffused essential oil counterparts.

They can also pose additional risks depending on the type of candle you're burning as synthetic scents, paraffin wax (one of the most common candle-making waxes) and the smoke from the candle can all cause harm.

If you want to burn scented candles within the home, we suggest sticking to organic wax candles (such as soy or beeswax) and only ever burning scents that are safe for your pet.

Are reed diffusers with essential oils safe around my pet?

Reed diffusers should be used with caution but do tend to be safer for your pet than scented candles as they're not releasing smoke.

Always stick to pet-safe scents and keep the diffuser well out of reach so your pet cannot accidentally ingest the liquid inside.

Final word

Although essential oils can be safe and provide a whole host of benefits to both human and furry members of your family, it's important to exercise caution. If in doubt at all, avoid usage completely until speaking with your vet.

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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