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January 10, 2018 4 min read

Recently, a FaceBook post has raised many concerns about essential oils and their use around animals. Yes, there are absolutely some essential oils that are quite toxic to animals. Yes, there are some animals that require more considerations than others. Using essential oils around animals is ok. However, when it comes to using essential oils, balance and consideration for our fur babies are important!

There is a LOT to learn when it comes to Animal Aromatherapy and I am going to be totally honest. I am not that expert. Nor am I a Veterinarian. However, I do try to keep things in focus and use a balanced approach when using essential oils in areas my dog frequents. 

Can essential oils be used around dogs?

Essential Oils and Animals

Yes! We can absolutely use essential oils around dogs. A common method is diffusing most users enjoy is diffusing.

With diffusing it is important to remember the actual amount of essential oils that are being dispersed into the air and over what amount of time the dispersion is happening (the dose). The reality is that diffusing is quite safe around most animals because we are talking about essential oils being dispersed in parts per million.

To error on the side of caution, there are a few things we can do to ensure we are using essential oils safely via diffusion around dogs.  Below are just a few.

  • The first thing we can do is make sure they have a way out of the room.
  • Additionally, when diffusing, if you can use fewer drops, that is encouraged.

Remember, it only takes a small amount to be effective for what we need. With small animals it will take even less.

  • If you follow Robert Tisserand's guidelines for diffusing for 30 minutes on and then off for 30 minutes to an hour, that is encouraged as well.

I know a LOT of essential oil users that run their diffusers All. Day. Long. That is simply not necessary. On average it takes about thirty minutes of diffusion for the body to receive all of the essential oil constituents it needs for them to have an effect. When we consider how long it might take to process all of it out of our system, diffusing more than that is honestly wasted. If that is the case for an average, healthy adult, consider what that might be for a small pet.

  • Whenever possible, try to air out the room. This is not necessary every single time, but can benefit both you and your pet.

I know it isn’t always possible to air out a room due to rain, excessive heat, etc. but if you can, it is a good way to make sure you and your fur babies get the break they need for their bodies to use and eliminate essential oils.

What about cats?

Animals and essential oils

Cats, do not have the appropriate enzyme in their liver to break down all essential oil constituents or even raw plants. Without the enzyme, cats have a higher risk for liver toxicity. This does not mean that you cannot diffuse in your home. Should you use caution? Yes. Do you have to throw out your essential oils and never use them again? NO!

In regard to cats, if you NEED to diffuse you can do so safely using the following measures.

  • If possible, diffuse in a room you can keep your cat out of. Always make sure their food is not out or in the room you are diffusing in.
  • Use less essential oils when diffusing - remember they are potent so even half the recommend amount in your diffuser for an hour or two will still be beneficial.
  • Air out the room completely for at least 30 minutes when you are finished diffusing if you are still concerned.

You don’t have to avoid diffusing or toss your beloved essential oil collection just because you have a cat or even several. There are also other alternatives to diffusing when you need essential oils includes the following:

  • Topical use.

If you have a cat that likes to lick you, cover the area you have applied essential oils to.

  • Personal Aromatherapy Inhalers or Aromasticks.

These are perfect and tend to be more potent than diffusing but still allow you to receive the benefits of using the essential oils you need. The best part is that they can be kept away from your cat!

  • Aromatic Baths.

Make sure your cat will not drink your bath water while you are enjoying your bath. When finished air out the room and clean the bath tub. I had a cat once that liked to swim and would lick the bathtub walls….so definitely clean the tub!

  • Steam Tents.

These are really easy to use, clean up and will have very little impact to your pet.

If you are curious about what potential reactions might look like, Anna (an animal aromatherapist practitioner) shares some information here

Here is a link to Robert Tisserand's blog on diffusing and Cats just to give you more perspective.

So what is the bottom line with pets and essential oils?

Overall, you CAN use essential oils around animals. Because they are smaller, we absolutely do need to consider the dose they are exposed to since most family pets are smaller. With cats you can STILL use essential oils, just exercise a little more caution. To quote Paracelsus, "all things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison."

We need to take a balanced approach to using essential oils with our fur babies and asking questions is a great way to learn and get there. Do not forget to consult your vet if you think something is off with your pet.

**This article was reviewed by an Animal Aromatherapist prior to publishing. Thank you Anna Pageau for assisting me.**