Keeping Pets Safe Around Essential Oils
Over the last couple years, essential oils have been demystified and popularized for the average homeowner looking for new ways of living well. You can add a few drops to your beauty routine, use them to fight colds or diffuse their fresh scents throughout your home. However, while these all-natural oils may be improving your quality of life, they could be putting your favorite furry friends in danger.
“Ideally, pets should never be exposed to concentrated essential oils, and the oils should be vaporized with caution around pets, especially those with respiratory ailments,” explains Dr. Steven Hansen, president of Arizona Human Society and a board-certified toxicologist. “Both dogs and cats are highly sensitive to odors, and pets with respiratory disease are more likely to exhibit adverse effects if exposed to an active diffuser. Cats specifically may be at increased risk because of their livers’ inability to metabolize certain compounds found in oils. Similarly, pet birds should not be exposed to essential oil diffusers.”
THREE PET-SAFE PRACTICES
Be safe rather than sorry “Oils with higher potential to cause issues with pets include pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree and wintergreen,” says Hansen. “Animals should never be exposed in a closed space and should always have free access to a space with fresh air, such as another room or area of the house, to allow them total avoidance if desired.”
Less is more According to Pamela Meyer, certified aromatherapist and owner of Zona’s Essential Oils & Art in Cave Creek, diffusing two to four drops of oil for one hour in your home is a good standard to abide by when pets are present.
Lavender, frankincense and cardamom oils can be beneficial to dogs and cats when properly diffused. Be sure to monitor your pets closely for unusual behavior, such as drooling, respiratory distress and loss of balance, when diffusing a new oil.
Quality is key “Organic oils are definitely best for the whole family due to the lack of pesticides and chemicals, but in this burgeoning oil market, the labeling on a bottle can be misleading,” says Meyer. Ignore empty marketing phrases, such as “therapeutic grade,” and look for the term “wild-crafted,” as it almost always means the plant was harvested in the wild and free of pesticides. Also, make sure the label shows the plant’s Latin name and that the content is specified as an essential oil, otherwise you might be buying a low-cost hybrid or perfumed oil.