The use of essential oils to soothe common ailments such as pain, anxiety, and cold symptoms dates back to biblical times. Although essential oils have been around for thousands of years, the industry is currently enjoying a resurgence in interest, and many people are incorporating the oils into their daily lives in a variety of ways.
Essential oil diffusers, which release oil particles into the air, are growing in popularity. Concern over whether diffusers put pets at risk is also growing, leading many owners to wonder if essential oil diffusers and pets is a bad combination altogether.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the concentrated forms of plant chemicals and can be highly volatile. Many essential oils can pose a danger to pets, especially if a pet has gotten some on their coat or paws or has had an oil intentionally placed on them. Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils and may experience gastrointestinal troubles or liver damage if exposed.
Certain oils are more likely to have a negative effect on pets than others. Tea tree (melaleuca), citrus (d-limonene), wintergreen, pine, cinnamon, pennyroyal, and eucalyptus are especially toxic and should not be used in a home where pets live. Because there’s such variability in concentration and quality among essential oils, pet owners should never apply them directly to pets. They should also be stored safely out of reach.
Essential Oil Diffusers and Pets
Pets generally experience higher levels of essential oil toxicity through ingestion or direct contact on the skin, but that doesn’t mean infusers are inherently safe to use around pets. The aromas produced by diffusers can overwhelm a pet’s sensitive nose, and in severe cases, their use can lead to respiration pneumonia.
Although there is some inherent risk in utilizing essential oils when you own a pet, it doesn’t mean you have to dump your diffuser altogether. Follow these guidelines for safe use of essential oil diffusers:
- Always place your diffuser in a secure location where your pet can’t accidentally knock it over and expose themselves to the oils inside.
- Use your diffuser for short periods of time only, and try to keep pets separated from them whenever possible.
- Do not use a diffuser if your pet has a history of breathing problems.
- Birds have extremely sensitive respiratory tracts and can develop serious problems if exposed to essential oils in the air. Diffusers should never be used in a home with a pet bird.