Chihuahua sits with essential oils

The Hidden Dangers of Essential Oils

If you don’t have your own diffuser and essential oil set, chances are you know someone who does. You may have personally experienced or overheard someone talking about their lemongrass scented kitchen, relaxed lavender dreams, or their cold that was healed by eucalyptus and peppermint—but what most people don’t know (users and non-users alike) is that essential oils can be toxic to animals.

What are essential oils?

If you’re new to essential oils, here’s a brief and basic rundown:

Essential oils are essences extracted from plants through a distillation process that captures the plant’s scent and flavor. They’ve been used throughout the history of cosmetics, in perfumes and for therapeutic purposes. Enthusiasts use them as remedies for cleaning, relaxation, health and many other reasons—the list is long. People typically use them straight out of the bottle as topical ointments and treatments, diluted with carrier oils, and with diffusers.


An oil diffuser


Although essential oils may have many positive effects for humans, it’s important for pet owners to know that they could be toxic to your furry little friend—even when used in a diffuser.

The Science: Pets can be poisoned by essential oils because they lack an essential enzyme in their liver, which makes it difficult for them to metabolize and eliminate certain toxins like essential oils. Animals can also be sensitive to phenols and phenolic compounds, which can be found in some essential oils.


Vairous plants, spices and bottles.


Because it’s the actual natural oil that can be toxic, there is no specific brand you can trust to be 100% safe—it is the individual oil type you will need to pay attention to. And while applying oils orally or topically to animals is never advised, even a diffuser can harm pets. Because of this reason, we suggest that you always contact your veterinarian before using the oils in a home with pets. Although some types may be completely harmless, it’s important to know which ones are toxic.


Lists of the oils harmful to cats and dogs.


If you have a pocket or unique pet(s) such as a bunny, snake, bird, mouse, hamster or other small animals, extra caution is necessary and always contact us to determine which types may or may not be safe for your pet.


Dog laying under a blanket.


There are many different symptoms indicating your pet may have been poisoned. Always be aware of their behavior and note anything out of the ordinary, but here are some telltale signs your pet has ingested a toxic oil:


Signs your pet has been poisoned by essentials oils.

Reacting Quickly


If your pet shows any of these symptoms, it is important to act fast—just as you would if a human were poisoned. Do not delay in calling us at any hour, so your pet can have emergency services if needed. In the meantime, be sure to wash off the oil if it’s on your pet’s fur or skin but avoid treating your pet without your vet’s approval, and take the oil with you to show your vet what caused the reaction.


Ensuring your pet's safety


  • Always contact your veterinarian to ensure the oils you are using are safe for your pets.
  • Keep oils out of reach of your pets and store them in containers your animal cannot get into.
  • Swap your cleaning oils for pet-friendly cleaners as a safer alternative.
  • If your pet gets stressed easily, ask your vet about safe calming aids.


The solution to protecting your pet from the dangers of essential oils is as simple as contacting us. While some oils may be harmless, knowing that many are toxic and spreading the word to your essential oil loving friends can be crucial for the health and safety of your four-legged friends. It is more than possible to enjoy the benefits of essential oils in your home while keeping your pet safe, but using vet-approved oils is key.


Dog and cat lay together on a rug.


As always, please do not hesitate to visit or contact us with any questions regarding essential oils and other concerns. If your pet is in immediate danger please call 701.757.3500.

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