By Diane Small
For many, aromatherapy has some serious healing powers that can help depression, hormonal imbalances, anxiety and more. For others, using essential oils at home is just something deliciously pleasant – I mean, who doesn’t love 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 vapourised 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
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
- Sweet birch
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:
Essential Oils That Hurt Cats
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
- Sweet birch
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:
- Black Pepper
- 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:
- 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 Affected?
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.
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