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Are Essential Oils Safe For Your Pets?

Are you wondering if using essential oils around your pets or on your pets is safe? Find out here!

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post about the safety of essential oils for children. Recently though, I’ve had some questions about the safety of essential oils for our pets!

There is a lot of confusion as to whether or not essential oils should be used around our pets or even ON our pets. Some people say they are totally fine while others warn against using them around your pets at all.

So, what’s the deal?

Even though essential oils are natural, that doesn’t mean they have the same effect on our pets as they do on us. However, there are certain oils that are great for pets, and some that are not.

Essential Oils to Avoid With Pets

Every pet is different and may have different reactions to different essential oils. However, there are some essential oils that you may want to be careful using around your pets.


Cats are the most sensitive to essential oils, especially oils that contain polyphenolic compounds. The liver is most often the organ which is affected by essential oils. Cats’ livers are simply not the same as humans’ livers, and they lack the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds in essential oils. These oils are:

  • Birch
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen


For dogs, there are certain essential oils that trigger allergies or skin sensitivities:

  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Juniper
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Yarrow

If you use any of these essential oils for your own health, make sure you also exercise caution around your pets. If you use a diffuser, keep them out of the room during the treatment period. If you wear these essential oils on pulse points throughout the day, be careful when petting your companion animals.

Essential Oils That Are Good For Pets

Even though are there some essential oils that could potentially harm your pets, there are some wonderful oils that are actually good for them. Here are some essential oils you can use safely around and on your pets:

  • Carrot Seed – supports healthy skin as a topical treatment for dryness.
  • Cedarwood – helps repel pests and promote healthy skin and coat.
  • Chamomile – promotes healthy digestion and relaxation.
  • Clary Sage – calms nervousness and excitability.
  • Geranium – helps repel pests and is great as a treatment for ear infections.
  • Ginger – supports healthy digestions and helps to relieve pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia.
  • Helichrysum – can help with pain relief and skin issues when applied topically.
  • Lavender – helps relieve separation anxiety.
  • Marjoram – repels pests and helps treat skin irritations.
  • Myrrh – helps fight allergies and promotes healthy skin and coat.
  • Peppermint – soothes pain from hip dysplasia and arthritis and repels pests.

(source: organicaromas.com)

How to Apply Essential Oils on Pets

The common ways to apply essential oils are aromatically, topically, and internally.

But we need to use a little bit of caution when it comes to applying essential oils to our pets.

First of all, we want to start slowly. Start with a small amount of essential oil that is well diluted. See how your pet reacts to the essential oil. If the response is neutral but you are not getting the therapeutic effect desired, you can always add more essential oil or increase the frequency of application, but you do not want to start out with a large amount right from the get-go.

Since every individual pet is different and has a body chemistry unique to that animal, they each tolerate essential oils to a different extent. So just observe your pet’s behaviour – if he/she is behaving normally, all is well – if they are behaving abnormally such as trying to rub the oil off of an area that you applied it topically, squinting, rubbing their nose, or trying to get out of a room where you are diffusing, then that individual may be sensitive to that particular oil.

Aromatic Application

Water diffusion is the most recommended method for pets. It is the best way to begin to introduce essential oils into your home. Start with 1-5 drops of oil in your diffuser. It’s best to use water diffusion in an open room.

Make sure to monitor your pet’s behaviour during the diffusion and respond accordingly. They will tell you if it’s one they like or need or absolutely cannot be around or it’s too much.

Topical Application

  1. Along the spine – this is the most common topical application and is usually the best tolerated.
  2. Ear tipping– applying the diluted oil to the tips of an animals ears. Some animals tolerate this, but many do not. Avoid using this type of application with long eared dogs as they may shake their head and get the oil in their eyes accidentally.
  3. Applying to paws – again this is not always very well tolerated in small animals. Be sure to get it on the skin between the paw pads. This is a fairly sensitive area so be sure to use diluted oils.
  4. Water misting – this is great for birds: add a drop of oil to several ounces of water, shake, and spritz on the animal. This is also helpful for large animals if you are trying to cover a larger area or they don’t tolerate regular handling.
  5. DIY – Adding to topical products such as shampoo or coconut oil.
  6. Indirect application – apply to bedding or an area your animal frequently comes into contact with.

Again, start out with diluted oils and add more if needed when you are first starting out.

Internal Application

  1. In drinking water: 1 drop per 2 cups drinking water for dogs, 1 drop per liter for birds and smaller animals. NOT recommended for cats.
  2. In food: usually wet food recommended

Remember that with animals that groom frequently such as cats and dogs, topical application also means internal application. So, if this happens and the oil was applied topically, dilute it by applying a carrier oil such as Fractionated Coconut oil directly over the area. Be careful not to use water, as that will drive the oil in deeper.

Common Uses of Essential Oils for Pets

Essential oils can help treat behavioural issues such as separation anxiety, thunderstorm anxiety, and fear or fear-based aggression.

  • Allergies: With dogs, internal use of frankincense, lemon, lavender, and peppermint 2-3 times daily as well as Omega 3 supplementation is recommended. I always recommend working with your veterinarian in these cases to determine the source of the allergy, because addressing the root cause will help prevent the itching.
  • Ear Infections: cleaning the ears regularly with a natural ear cleaner is essential – you can make one yourself even! Then around the base of the ear, apply diluted lavender, Frankincense, geranium and basil.
  • Neoplasia: uncomplicated cases can benefit from support with frankincense and sandalwood. I always recommend working with a veterinary oncologist in these cases.
  • Seizures: frankincense orally twice daily as well as omega 3 supplementation.
  • Transitions: bringing a new puppy home, or transitions between homes or adding a new animal to a herd, the combination of lavender and myrrh really help with the adjustment period.

There are many other uses for essential oils for dogs and other pets including liver support, kidney support, immune support, and general health. (source: drericz.com)

Use Only High Quality Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated lipid soluble volatile aromatic compounds distilled from plants. It is important to note that not all essential oils are created equally. When considering whether or not to use essential oils for dogs and other pets, you need to carefully consider the quality of the essential oil.

Has it been third party tested?  Is it considered a certified pure therapeutic grade essential oil that is safe to use topically or internally? Many essential oils on the market today are what I consider “perfume grade.” While these may say that they are “100% pure” on the label, they often contain extenders or other substances in addition to the essential oil in it that are toxic to small animals like dogs and cats. These should be avoided.

This is why I personally use doTERRA oils in our home. They are tested and certified pure therapeutic grade oils. You don’t have to use doTERRA, but if you don’t, please make sure the oils you are using have been tested and you’ve done your diligent research.

When it comes to animals and essential oils, I always recommend that pet owners consult with their veterinarian to get advice on the proper way to use them, particularly based on the individual pet’s species, age, size and health history.

Many people worry about the impact of essential oils on their pets. However, as long as you use the correct essential oils and avoid any of the oils that may trigger issues for your pets, they are perfectly safe.

Also make sure that you are exercising best practices when introducing essential oils into your home by using a quality diffuser and only therapeutic grade oils in a safe and prudent manner. Finally, go slow and monitor your pets to see how they react. Since every pet is different, an essential oil that can benefit one might trigger a different response in another.

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