FAQs Regarding Use of Essential Oils Around Dogs and Cats

Are essential oils safe for use around pets in general?

Our pets are an integral part of the family. While essential oils have a variety of benefits for people, their use around animals and pets requires extra caution. This is because animals are anatomically and physiologically very different from people, and the way they metabolize and eliminate undesirable substances from their bodies is very different as well.

Currently, the information regarding the use of essential oils in and around animals is very limited. Due to the limited amount of data available, NOW does not recommend that concentrated essential oils be intentionally given to an animal for ingestion or applied topically unless directed for a specific condition under the direction of your veterinarian. If you diffuse essential oils for aromatherapy, steps should be taken to minimize full strength exposure for any domesticated pet.

Please Note: Just like people, every pet is a unique individual. If your pet has any ongoing medical conditions or is on any medications, it is always advisable to speak with your veterinarian prior to exposing your pet to any new products in their environment.

Are there any essential oils safe for diffusion around pets in general?

While essential oils are generally suitable for diffusion around pets, these oils can affect different animal species in different ways. Caution is always advised when diffusing in the presence of a pet. These simple steps can help minimize your pet’s reaction to essential oil exposure:

  • Ensure diffusers are used in an open, well-ventilated area of the home
  • If diffusing for the first time around a pet, carefully monitor your pet for the first several minutes to see how they react to the scent. If they show signs of discomfort cease diffusion immediately and air out the area by opening windows and doors
  • Ensure your pet has free access to other areas of your home if a diffused aroma becomes too strong for them
  • Never leave a running diffuser and a pet unattended; diffusion should only be done when you or another person are present
  • Keep your essential oils in a secure place where children and animals cannot reach the undiluted product

Are there any essential oils that should not be diffused around dogs?

In general, diffusion around dogs is acceptable as long as the necessary steps are taken to ensure exposure is minimized.

Because of their remarkable sense of smell, inhalation of essential oils is known to produce changes in behavior and mood, as well as other systemic effects. This will be heightened in certain dogs and can produce unwanted and adverse effects.

Caution needs to be taken whenever essential oils are used in the presence of a dog. Always use diluted essential oils in an open, well-ventilated space. In addition, do not allow your pet to come into direct contact with the diffused liquid or any condensate that they may lick and ingest; this includes your skin. Make sure to give your dog plenty of freedom to move to another room or area of the house if a diffused scent becomes too strong for them.

Are essential oils safe for use around cats?

In general, due to insufficient information concerning the use of essential oils in cats, we cannot recommend their general use for direct inhalation through diffusion.

Cats metabolize substances very differently from other animals and are unable to efficiently break down and eliminate certain chemicals and metabolites from their bodies. Medications and chemicals in the environment that would not be a problem for people, or even dogs and other animals, have the potential to be very toxic to cats.

Cats are also fastidious groomers, so make sure that they don’t come into direct contact with the diffused liquid, or any condensate that may get on their coat for them to lick and ingest; this includes your skin.

Special note on citrus oils

Limonene and linalool are organic chemicals commonly found in citrus-based essential oil products. These constituents have been associated with severe dermatitis in some animals, and especially in cats.