It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because something it is natural it is safe, but it is very important to do research and proceed with caution when choosing to use any essential oil on or around your pet. You also need to keep in mind that not all animals can be treated the same. Products and treatments that are fine for dogs and horses could cause serious problems for cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds.
It is not always easy to tell when an essential oil is harming your pet. Sometimes the symptoms develop straight away but sometimes it can take years to see the effects.
So what should you avoid:
Pennyroyal is often used in natural flea treatments but it is actually incredibly toxic to animals and not too good for humans either.
‘Hot oils’ such as cinnamon, cassia, juniper, oregano, clove, wintergreen, thyme should be avoided and citrus oils should also be avoided around cats.
Essential oils should not be put near the ear canal as the can damage the eardrum and nerves and never around the eyes, nose, mouth and genitals.
Tea tree on scratches and bites may be a gentle oil that is fine for humans, but it can result in a trip to the vets with symptoms of toxicity if used to treat your pet.
Symptoms of toxicity from essential oils can include vomiting, tremors, in-coordination, depression or neurological disorders.
Cats are especially vulnerable. Their livers are not able to break down the chemicals constituents in the essential oils, leaving them to build up in the cat’s system and slowly lead to organ failure. So if you like to diffuse oils around the house, make sure that the room has the door open air flow and that your cat has an exit to leave the room and get away to fresh air.
Diffusing essential oils around birds is also a no no. They are extremely sensitive and should never be exposed to any essential oil. It can lead to respiratory failure and other toxicity symptoms.
Dogs and horses are less sensitive and essential oils can be used effectively in a number of ways as long as they are sufficiently diluted. Oils such as Lavender, Eucalyptus, Chamomile or Ginger are generally ok, however, like humans, their health should be considered when choosing oils and the strength of the dilution. For old age or pregnancy for example, you would need to make dilute the oil to a greater extent.
I have only mentioned a few oils here on either the safe or unsafe list so please make sure you look into each oil you choose to use thoroughly before making up a flea blend or remedy.