Warning: Essential Oils Can Hurt Your Pets!

Do you know which essential oils can hurt your pets? If you have a dog or cat you need to read this!

By Diane Small

There’s a lot we can do to show we love our pets.

We can give our pets the best food. For example, dogs can actually exist on a vegetarian diet and stay healthy. Cats, however, benefit most from an organic meat-based diet.

We can inform ourselves about the best way to care for our pets. Namely, we can learn about de-parasiting our animals, the most common illnesses that might affect them, and how to understand their behaviour.

And finally, we can learn to avoid things that can hurt our pets. Like aromatherapy oils, for example.

The power of aromatherapy

For many, aromatherapy has some serious healing powers. They can:

  • help depression
  • balance hormones
  • shift anxiety
  • help with insomnia

and more.

For others, using essential oils at home is just something deliciously pleasant. I mean, who doesn’t love to shop carrier oils to use for massages, or using an essential oil diffuser or aromatherapy candle to perfume their home? 

Of course, if you scent your home in any way, you should use 100% pure, natural oils and waxes so you don’t expose yourself to toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

But even if your aromatherapy of choice is 100% organic, you need to know which essential oils can hurt your pets. 

Yep, it’s true – what can be good for humans can be harmful to animals. Some examples that come to mind are chocolate, oranges, and a vegan diet, for example. But essential oils, when they’re vaporised in the air or all over your hands, can also hurt your pets. Here’s what you need to know.

Which Essential Oils Can Hurt Your Pets

Essential Oils Can Hurt Your Pets

Aromatherapy That Hurts Dogs

Canine companions are loved by people all over the world. Having a dog is arguably one of the best experiences an animal lover can have, and there is a loyalty to that friendship unlike anything you will find in any other species. But if you have a dog and want it to stay healthy, then we highly recommend you stay away from these essential oils. According VMD Today, a veterinary journal, the following essential oils are harmful to dogs, and since their sense of smell is so keen, they may be especially disturbed by them: 

  • Tea tree
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Peppermint
  • Anise
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Yarrow
  • Garlic

On the other hand, there are some essential oils that are perfectly safe to use around dogs – but be sure to read the instructions and dilute them well. A few oils that are okay for use around dogs are:

  • Lavender
  • Cardamom
  • Chamomile
  • Spearmint

Essential Oils That Hurt Cats

Essential Oils Can Hurt Your Pets

Next, we have our feline friends. Personally, I adore cats. They are fun, cool, and can be hilarious. In fact, as it turns out, cats are more popular than dogs as a household companion. Some attribute this to the fact that they are so self-reliant, cleaner than dogs and easier to care for.

But when it comes to aromatherapy and essential oils, our cats are not on the same wavelength as we are. In fact, most of these scents below are toxic to cats, since their livers cannot metabolise some of the elements in such oils. It’s recommended that you just avoid using them around your felines. Wash your hands if you’ve been handling these oils, and don’t diffuse them in your home in any form if they’re close to your cat: 

  • Wintergreen oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • All citrus Oils
  • Tea tree oil
  • Pine 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Sweet birch
  • Clove
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Lavender

And Don’t Forget Birds!

Some people may never consider having a bird for a pet, but I am here to tell those people that you are seriously missing out! Having a feathered friend around is quite entertaining. Interestingly enough, birds are sensitive to scents, and most of the oils listed above are not good for them either.

There are different schools of thought on this of course. Some bird owners feel that essential oils are fine around their birds, but I strongly believe it’s always better to err on the side of caution, and you would hate to accidentally poison your pets.

Even Reptiles Can Suffer

Snakes, lizards, geckos, and turtles are just as popular of pets as the furry and feathered creatures we’ve talked about thus far. When it comes to essential oils and reptiles, there are two schools of thought on that as well. Some naturalistic people believe that essential oils are safe for their lizards, yet there are others that feel it isn’t a safe habit to start.

As with any other type of pet, there is a list of oils you should avoid when dealing with reptiles, which are listed below:

  • Birch
  • Black Pepper
  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Coriander
  • Eucalyptus
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper Melaleuca
  • White fir

How Can I Tell If My Pets Have Been Affected?

The Pet Poison Helpline says that signs that your pet may have been exposed to essential oils include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Pawing at face or mouth
  • Redness around face, nose, mouth, gums, or on the skin
  • Trouble walking, wobbling (ataxia)
  • Respiratory issues like fast breathing, panting, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing

What Should I Do If My Pet Is Harmed?

According to VCA Hospitals, if your cat, dog, bird or reptile is showing any of the signs of toxicity listed above, then you should follow these steps.

  • If the essential oils got on their skin, wash them off right away with a neutral, unscented soap
  • Go directly to the nearest veterinary hospital
  • Make sure to bring the oil so that the vet knows what they are dealing with

Preventing the toxicity from happening in the first place is always your best bet. Make sure to keep your essential oils in a place that is difficult for your pets to access and don’t use them when your pets are in the room. Try to use oils that won’t harm your pets, and if you suspect that they have been infected, seek medical attention immediately.


Our pets are members of the family, and we want them to be safe in their homes. While we love aromatherapy and all things natural, we love our pets more. It isn’t difficult to keep them in a safe place. All you must do is be conscious as to where your pets are when you decide to use your essential oils.


Did you know essential oils can hurt your pets? Let us know if you have any other tips, in the comments!

Diane Small
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9 thoughts on “Warning: Essential Oils Can Hurt Your Pets!”

  1. Pingback: Coconut Oil on Bearded Dragons: Why, When, and How to Use It (2022) – NewPetsOwner

  2. Kalei S Taylor

    So does anyo e have any suggestions on what to do about pests? I have a large indoor ha itat for a box turtle. Basically we took an entire wall lined the floor and walls with a tarp and created her own world which measures around 8 ft x 4 ft. The problem is weve been invaded or more she’s been invaded by roaches. Theyve appeared from nowhere. She occasionally catches and eats one here and there but they’ve started nesting in the substrate. I see here the cypress peppermint mixture is a no no but what about sugar and baking soda?

  3. I am trying to keep packrats out of my outdoor box turtle
    Habitat. I was told that if I spray the area with diluted peppermint oil the rays will leave but I want to k ow if that will
    Bother the turtles??

  4. This was good to know because I’m making soap for my turtle and was planning on putting essential oils in it. Thank You

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