Essential Oils and Pets

Essential Oils and Pets

The safety of using essential oils around pets is a hot topic that the Animal Poisons Centre is often called about. If essential oils are used appropriately, they are generally regarded as safe. However, if used improperly, essential oils can be toxic to pets.

Safe and appropriate use of essential oils is therefore crucial and general safety advice includes:

  • Use essential oil burners and vaporisers only in well ventilated spaces. For the sensitive noses of our pets it may feel like trapping them in a car with an overly perfumed human.
  • Ensure pets do not have access to containers that hold essential oils.
  • Always return containers to a safe storage area that is not accessible by your pet immediately after using.
  • Never apply concentrated essential oils to your pets’ skin or coat.

The risk of poisoning is dependent on many factors including the type of essential oil, the concentration of the oil and how your pet is exposed to the oil (ingestion, inhalation, skin exposure etc).

Exposure to essential oils can result in varying symptoms ranging from drooling and vomiting to coma, seizures, and liver injury. Some common essential oils that are considered particularly toxic include the following:

  • Eucalyptus and tea tree oil – Ingestion can result in drowsiness, unsteadiness on the feet, confusion, coma and seizures. Severe poisoning in dogs and cats has occurred from skin application of concentrated tea tree oil.
  • Camphor – Causes stimulation of the central nervous system and seizures.
  • Clove oil – Causes depression of the central nervous system and liver injury.
  • Oil of wintergreen – Contains a high concentration of methyl salicylate which can result in abdominal pain, vomiting, panting, confusion, seizures, coma and death.

If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to any essential oil, you can call the Animal Poisons Centre on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. Our service is free for all pet owners.