Although some essential oils are safe to use on pets, caution should always be taken until you fully research any harmful effects and/or discuss with an experienced veterinarian. Never use oils on your pet’s skin as it may cause an adverse effect. Also, never apply an oil to the fur where a pet can lick or ingest the product. If your animal changes behavior suddenly—backing away, lack of interest, going into a deep sleep, or turning her back to you, then respect your pet’s instinct to avoid the essential oil. Oils known to be toxic for dogs include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang

Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils since they are rapidly absorbed both orally and across the skin, then metabolized in the liver. Cats lack essential enzymes in their liver that help to metabolize certain substances such as essential oils. Cats are also very sensitive to phenols and phenolic compounds, which are found in many essential oils. The higher the concentration of the oil (100% pure), the greater risk to the cat. Oils that are known to cause toxic effects in cats include:

  • Citrus
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppemint
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

Symptoms depend on the type of oils involved in the exposure and can include: drooling, vomiting, tremors, ataxia (wobbliness), respiratory distress, low heart rate, low body temperature, and liver failure. Take your animal to a veterinarian immediately upon noticing any of these symptoms when related to essential oil use.