Essential Oils Toxic for Cats, Dogs, Rabbits, Birds

Essential Oils Toxic for All Pets

Essential Oils are the highly concentrated version of the natural oils in plants and have been used for thousands of years to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. In addition to aromatherapy and alternative medicine, today there’s a growing trend of using essential oils in cleaning products, food and drink flavorings, herbal remedies, perfumes, personal care products and as air fresheners. But pet owners should be aware that essential oils can pose a health risk for their companion animals.

Exposure can occur from licking and oral ingestion, absorption by skin contact, or inhalation from oil diffusers. The National Pet Poison Control Center call statistics show a trend away from skin contact poisoning to inhalation toxicity as more homes utilize essential oil diffusers for aromatherapy. Essential oils are especially toxic to cats because they lack an enzyme in their liver necessary for metabolizing and eliminating the toxins. Cats are also more sensitive to phenols and phenolic compounds found in plant oils. The higher the concentration of the essential oil (i.e. 100%) the greater the risk for toxicity.

The same is true for dogs, especially for puppies and adults with liver disease. Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and pocket pets are also at risk. Because of their especially sensitive respiratory tracts, birds are at particular risk when using essential oil diffusers.

Essential Oil concentrates that are known to be Pet Poisons include:

  • Cinnamon, Citrus (d-limonene), Clove, Eucalyptus, Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint, Pine, Sweet Birch, Tea Tree, Wintergreen
  • Ylang-Ylang

The best advice in homes with pets is to run the oil diffusers for short periods of time only in rooms that cannot be accessed by pets.

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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