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Essential Oils and Pets: What Can You Use Safely?

4 mins

Akhila Jerripothula

What essential oils are safe for pets? Keep your furry friends safe with this guide and learn how to reconcile your love for essential oils and pets!

Essential oils have experienced a boom in the past few years, for their multipurpose benefits in boosting your health, beauty, and wellness. Even with recent developments in modern science, there is always a return to mother nature’s powerful plant extracts. The amazing healing powers that these carrier oils have for humans, can actually cause harm to our beloved four-legged friends.

Essential oils have been used for centuries by our ancestors, and are included in products we use every day from hair care to skincare, and more.  They can heal, revitalize, and provide calming effects for any of your concerns. Is diffusing essential oils safe for cats and dogs? As harmless as they may seem to us as humans, certain essential oils and pets don't always mix well. Pet owners need to know which essential oils are safe for dogs and cats, and other small animals to prevent any potential harm to their health.  

Essential Oils To Keep Away from Pets

What essential oils are toxic to dogs? What essential oils are toxic to cats? While there are so many powerful essential oils to choose from, some can have pretty harmful effects on our pets when inhaled, ingested, or topically applied. Be on the lookout for adverse reactions like drooling, pawing, and tremors. Call your pet poison helpline or veterinarian if you are concerned about any of these symptoms. 

Here are the essential oils that you need to steer clear of around pets:   

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Citrus oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Ylang ylang
  • Oil of Sweet Birch
  • Pennyroyal Oil
  • Pine Oils
  • Wintergreen

As a rule of thumb, do not use any essential oils around young pets below 8 weeks in order to give their immune systems a chance to develop. Just like us humans, every animal is different. While this list offers suggested oils that are safe to use around them, it is best to start with a diluted or smaller amount to test when beginning to use new products (1 drop of essential oil.) 

Topically applied oils are not recommended unless instructed to do so by a veterinarian, as there is a possibility of causing chemical burns. Imagine your dog licking the area you applied an essential oil directly, and you can understand the concerns it raises. A dog’s sense of smell is much more heightened than that of their human owners, up to 10,000 times in fact. Keeping this in mind, the strong scent can be too overwhelming to our beloved furry pals.  

Whenever you are intending on using a diffuser, be sure there is open space to allow better airflow since the oil is dispersed into droplets in the air.  Be aware of your pets when diffusing oil, as sweeter smelling ones can tempt them to consume it. 

Essential oils and pets: What essential oils are safe for cats and dogs?

What essential oils should you diffuse around cats and dogs? Below, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite essential oils that are safe to diffuse around your furry friends (in moderation of course!)

Lavender Oil

Lavender essential oil’s reputation as a widely used essential oil has primarily to do with its calming properties.  Often used as a sleep aid to promote relaxation and combat stress, it can be applied or diffused to release effective powers.  Seen in everything from sprays to hair care, lotions, and more, lavender is said to have “anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties

From anxiety, stress, insomnia, to depression, its uses for overall health are abundant.  With regard to use around your pets, lavender has often been recommended as a useful way to navigate anxious animals, making it generally safe for use around your furry friends.  

While it may be a challenge to fully know how it may adversely affect them without being able to communicate verbally, the best approach is that of common sense. Any new environmental changes should be introduced with caution, to ensure there are no adverse reactions.     


Lemongrass Oil

Long used in southeast Asia and other tropical climate regions for cooking and traditional herbal medicine, lemongrass essential oil has numerous benefits, much like lavender.  The natural antibacterial properties are very useful. Lemongrass essential oil can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. Its fresh, earthy scent works to invigorate the senses and leave one feeling relaxed and revitalized.   

Jasmine Oil

Notes of jasmine can be found in many floral perfumes and fragrances for a reason.  The distinctly fresh scent has been sought after for centuries. Similar to rose essential oil, the extraction of jasmine essential oil is costly, making it a prized item. Perfect for a soothing and sedative atmosphere, it is safe for use around pups and kittens.  

Rose Oil

One of the more expensive essential oils used for aromatherapy, it requires 65 pounds of rose petals to produce just 15mL of essential oil! The intoxicating aroma is well worth it, as luxurious rose essential oil is ideal for reducing stress and increasing libido. It is safe for use around pets, just as long as they are spayed and neutered!    

Geranium Oil

As a therapeutic essential oil, geranium essential oil offers a soothing floral scent much like a rose, but with a mintier undertone.  The key difference is in pricing as well as potency.  If you are looking for a relaxing and invigorating recharge, geranium will do the trick! 

Citronella Oil

Most commonly known as a highly effective and non-toxic insect repellent, the smell can most commonly be mistaken for lemongrass.  Rightfully so, as “they share a similar appearance, growth, and processing method” but are simply just in the same plant family which explains their similarities.  For the use of aromatherapy, citronella essential  oil has strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties which are great for an overall reduction of stress.  

Cedarwood Oil

Pivoting away from the floral and citrus scents, cedarwood essential oil has an earthy, wood-like aroma with notes of sandalwood. With its “antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, insecticidal, stimulant, and anti-fungal” benefits, a topical application can assist to help fight dandruff, acne, and scars. When diffused, cedarwood essential oil can help increase energy and invoke calmness.  

Rosemary Oil

While you may consider this an ideal ingredient for baking bread, rosemary essential oil has amazing therapeutic benefits. Its useful qualities include invigorating the senses, boosting alertness, and helping to increase memory retention. Unlike the other potent essential oils on this list, use rosemary as an awakening agent rather than to relax.  

Basil Oil

Basil is great on pizza and in salads, but its value as basil essential oil is quite impressive. “It provides mental clarity and courage, increases concentration and allays muscular pains and migraines.” For centuries, it has been harnessed for the beneficial effects it has on improving not only food, but also stress and mood. It is one of the best multi-purpose essential oils to include in your wellness kit. 

Patchouli Oil

A highly distinct smell, patchouli essential oil carries an exotic sweet and woody fragrance with notes of musk.  Used in an aromatherapeutic setting, it has been known to provide much-needed sedative, antidepressant, and deodorant benefits.  

Frankincense Oil

A well-known essence thanks in part to a little story about the three wise men, frankincense essential oil is rightfully nicknamed the “King of Essential Oils.” The “anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic & disinfectant” properties of this ancient essential oil are perfect for use in stress reduction, pain management, and soothing inflammation.  


Overall, diffusing can be a great way to bring some tranquility to your space for every person and pet. Essential oils offer many holistic and medicinal qualities without chemical additives, making it a great natural alternative to soothe, revive, and calm.  

As with anything new in life, moderation is key. Not only with the amount used, but also how often we incorporate it in our daily routine.  

Ensure you have ventilation while diffusing, so there is proper circulation of the potential essential oil vapor. If you believe that your pet may be having any sort of adverse reaction to essential oil, stop usage immediately, and check with your veterinarian about possible allergies. Just a little awareness is all it takes to embrace the healing powers of mother nature!



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