Essential Oils That May Be Toxic to Dogs and Other Pets


You may have noticed that essential oils have become a hot topic on social media lately… particularly their potential danger to our pets. It has probably left you wondering if essential oils could be hazardous to your dog or cat’s health. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. Yes, certain essential oils are toxic to all pets, but some are tolerated at varying levels by certain breeds and species.

It’s best to avoid using essential oils near cats, birds, and other small animals. For example, cats can develop liver damage if exposed to essential oils. Use extreme caution when using essential oil diffusers, candles, and other products when your animal is in the room. Limit exposure to no more than a few minutes even when your animals are in another room. Always watch your animals closely for adverse reactions when you’re using essential oil products anywhere in the home.

Pets who are especially sensitive to diffused essential oils:

  • Aquarium fish
  • Breeds who suffer from respiratory challenges
  • Pregnant, young, or geriatric animals
  • Toy dogs
  • Rabbits
  • Cats
  • Birds

What Makes Essential Oils Dangerous to Pets?

Certain essential oils contain chemicals that are dangerous to some pets. For example, oregano and thyme contain phenols, pine contains monoterpene hydrocarbons, basil and cinnamon contain phenylpropanoids, and oils like pennyroyal and wormwood contain ketones. These oils should never be used around pets. Animals with illnesses like epilepsy are especially vulnerable to these compounds.

How to Choose Safer Essential Oils

Be especially cautious with cheap essential oils that may contain unidentified chemicals that could be harmful to your pets, even if the oil itself is considered to be safe. Always choose therapeutic-grade oils marketed by reliable suppliers. As a general rule, if the supplier sells their oils at prices that are significantly lower than the norm, it’s probably a low-grade oil.

These Oils Are Known to Be Toxic to Pets

These are some of the more popular oils that are known to be toxic to pets, but it’s not a complete list. Be sure to research any oil you intend to use around your pet.

  • Tea Tree
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Pine
  • Thyme
  • Calendula
  • Pennyroyal
  • Yarrow
  • Ylang ylang
  • All citrus
  • Citronella

In Conclusion

Remember, it’s not always the oil itself that causes the problem, but the amount used, for how long, and how close it is used to your pet. Even the most tolerant of pets should only be exposed to diffused essential oils for no more than a few minutes. Always dilute the oils well to ensure the amount used isn’t toxic.

EPN