Over the last few weeks I've had a rather startling number of conversations with humans that use essential oils on their pets. They usually sell one of two major multi-level marketing essential oil brands and seem very reluctant to entertain the idea that what they are doing could be quite harmful to their pet. I consulted with my cousin, Morgan Matthews, DVM and ACVP candidate to gather information from reputable scientific sources. Below are some helpful facts about essential oils and their effects on animals. Please consult your veterinarian before giving your pet anything!
In humans, the majority of essential oils are safe, depending on dosage and route of administration. However, the same cannot be said for our household pets, especially cats.
 Cats have different metabolic pathways, in addition to lower body weights, than humans and dogs and are often more sensitive to certain compounds.
. The concentration of essential oils manufactured is variable and as a general rule, the more concentrated the oil, the greater the risk.
There are essential oils that are toxic to pets, regardless of the species. They include the following:
Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil)
Any essential oil can pose of risk of toxicity. Just like humans, our pets have different genetic make-ups and may have an adverse reaction to ANY essential oil. If your pet is exposed to an essential oil, regardless of route of administration, monitor your pet for the following signs: drooling/nausea and/or vomiting, depression, muscle tremors, ataxia/wobbliness, increased respiratory rate or difficulty breathing, and low body temperature.
There is not enough evidence to support the benefit of using essential oils in our household pets. Given the lack of proven benefit with the high risk of adverse effects, essential oils are often not recommended to use in pets.
If you plan to use essential oils on your dog, contact your veterinarian for safety guidelines.
General guidelines for essential oil use in household pets
“Essential oil and cats.” Kia Benson, DVM. Pet poison helpline.
“Concentrated tea tree oil toxicosis in dogs and cats: 443 cases.” Khan, S. A, et al. JAVMA Vol 244, p 95-99; Jan 1 2014
“Veterinary toxicology alert: Oils used in 'scent training' can harm dogs.” DVM 360 Magazine; March 17 2014.