Cats, essential oils, and diffusers don’t mix, vets warn


Vets warn pet owners to be careful with diffusers and essential oils

Written by Cynthia Gould, Posted on ABC3340

Many of us have diffusers in our homes and use essential oils for their seemingly natural healing powers. But veterinarians have a word of caution for pet owners. Those oils can be very toxic for cats and in some cases dogs.

“Cats and oil do not mix; stay away,” warns Dr. Wesley Stephens of Helena Veterinary Clinic. He explains cats have sensitive respiratory tracts and poor metabolism which makes a diffuser with essential oils a potentially toxic combo.

“A cat can walk through a room with a diffuser and get liver trauma, start drooling and get a drunken walk,” according to Dr. Stephens. It could potentially kill them. The oil droplets can get on their fur, then be absorbed or ingested when the oil is licked off. Applied directly to the skin or given orally, can be even more dangerous according to vets.

Dr. Natalie Lenoir Blackman owner of Well Being Medicine for Animals says she considers one brand of essential oils developed by a veterinarian safe. “The biggest thing when using essential oils is getting right dose to a therapeutic grade,” says Dr. Lenoir Blackman. She says quality and effectiveness are always big question marks when buying online.

You can find some diffusers made specifically for cats with sensitive systems. The less concentration, the less dangerous. “Dilute, dilute, dilute,” advises Dr. Stephens. “The dose is the poison.”

Animal Poison Control lists these oils as potentially toxic for cats:

Wintergreen oil
Peppermint oil
Citrus oil (including lemon oil)
Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil)
Pine oil
Eucalyptus oil
Cinnamon oil
Pennyroyal oil
Sweet birch oil
Clove oil
Ylang ylang oil
Four are considered toxic for dogs:

Pennyroyal oil
Pine oils
Tea tree oil
Natural doesn’t always mean safe when it comes to essential oils. A lot more research is needed.

If you do have diffuser, keep it in an area your pet can’t access and accidentally knock it over. If your pet has breathing issues or if you have a bird, the Animal Poison Control Center says it’s best to avoid diffusers and essential oils altogether.