Essential oils and your pets – things to keep in mind

It is not surprising to find the popularity of essential oils increasing significantly, and this is both for people and their pets. Many people are using them to treat ailments and common issues such as stress, but this has also resulted in the unfortunate poisoning of pets – as one 2018 viral social media post revealed.

Essential oils are inherently great, because they make your life much better when you use them carefully. However, the same rule does not necessarily apply to your animal friends.

This raises the question – are essential oils even safe for your pets? If some are, what are they? What are the ones you should never use around them? Research is scantly on the effects of essential oils on human health, and what makes them so great, but it is even less on animals.

If these questions and more are lingering in your mind, then you are not entirely wrong. Your favorite oil might prove deadly for your cat or dog, and it is important to question what is best for your pet as well. If you are wondering on the best options to use, then read on.

What exactly are essential oils?

 

These are oil products that are obtained from plant parts such as flowers and leaves. Unlike most things that you smell, these have a particularly powerful effect – which explains why they were used even thousands of years ago. They also trigger a calm sensation in the human brain, and the same can apply to pets too – but only to a certain extent.

They are increasingly becoming popular, especially among people that want to give up chemicals to treat common ailments or manage your home. Their uses include relaxation and cleaning.

The most common method of using them is through diffusers. You can purchase them on certain websites, and you can view now the most popular website for these products.

However, most oils are very harmful for pets, even when you dilute them or use a diffuser, and it can make your animal very sick.

What essential oils are dangerous for your pet?

You need to remember that animals are particularly sensitive to smells, much more than a human’s capabilities. For this reason, even the most unassuming essential oil can prove to be toxic for your pet very quickly, and can even lead to the death of your pet when not handled quickly.

In addition, specific aromatic oils can cause liver toxicity and kidney failure in pets, especially if they are sensitive. For instance, a cat is extremely sensitive to any polyphenol compound, as these interact with their livers during detox processes. For dogs, it is well-known that oils like thyme, clove and Jupiter incite skin sensitivities and severe allergies.

Dogs and cats will be affected differently when exposed to different oils, but here is a summary of the most toxic oils for them:

Dogs

 

  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Citrus (such as lemon and orange)
  • Wintergreen
  • Tea tree
  • Sweet birch

Cats

  • Sweet birch
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang
  • Pine
  • Citrus oils
  • Clove
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree
  • Lavender
  • Oregano

How can I tell when oil poisons my pet?

 

The symptoms and signs are several, but as the pet owner, you must always stay alert to observe any strange changes. Other signs to look for are:

  • When the animal vomits, monitor the smell to see if there is any sign of essential oils; also smell their fur, breathing or skin
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulties in breathing
  • Drooling
  • Muscle tremors and shaking
  • Weakness
  • Challenges in walking (the pet might even begin stumbling)
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Burns or redness on the gums, skin, tongue and lips

When you notice these signs, call for medical help immediately – the procedure is the same as when you are handling poisoning in a person. You should also aim to wash off the oil immediately from the skin or fur, and do not administer any drugs to the pet without the approval from your vet.

What are the points of caution?

 

  • Use the oils very cautiously around the pets, and send them out of the room when you are diffusing the oils.
  • Keep all oils out of the reach of the animals, and store them in very secure containers that the pet cannot get to
  • When you are cleaning the house, consider using a cleaner that is pet-friendly instead of essential oils
  • Never use concentrated oil as it is. It has an effect similar to that of concentrated acid, so it will burn– instead, always dilute it in a carrier oil before use. These include olive, jojoba and coconut oils. As a general rule, use one drop of the essential oil in 50 drops of carrier oil.
  • If you choose to apply any recommended oil topically, always do it with dogs. You must never do it with cats, because their metabolic system is extremely sensitive
  • When you are diffusing an oil, always give your pets an escape route, such as opening the door or windows. Always air the room before letting them back in as well, to make sure there are no lingering traces of the substance.
  • In addition, if you have young children under the age of five, you are pregnant or nursing, or you have someone around you that does, use these oils with a lot of caution.
  • never apply essential oils on your dog without informing your vet first and allowing them to supervise the process, and always inform them if there are any other pets in the home (this will make a major impact on the specific oil to use)

Final thoughts

Essential oils are great for general use, and serve many purposes for your home and health. However, if you happen to own a pet, you need to be very careful in their use, as what is good for you likely proves horrible for your animal friend. To be safe, it is best to avoid essential oils completely, because their toxic effects on animals are not conclusively known.

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