White and golden cat sitting next to an essential oil diffuser with text "Essential Oils Toxic for Pets?"

Essential oils have become more and more popular over the years, with scents ranging from pumpkin to eucalyptus. Essential oils are said to have benefits for humans providing headache relief, manage stress and even fight against insomnia. With more Americans incorporating diffusers, plugins, and other aromatherapy devices into their everyday lives, a new conversation has emerged. How do essential oils affect pets?

According to Kia Benson, DVM, Associate Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology at Pet Poison Helpline, essential oils can pose a toxic risk to household pets, especially cats. The oils are rapidly absorbed both orally and across the skin, and are then metabolized in the liver. Cats are very sensitive to phenols and phenolic compounds, which can be found in some essential oils. The higher the concentration of the essential oil, the greater the risk to cats.

Essential oils and aromatherapy diffusers, candles, liquid potpourri products, and room sprays are sources of airborne oils that cats inhale or lick off their fur. Some essential oils that can pose harm to cats are:
• Cinnamon
• Citrus
• Eucalyptus
• Peppermint
• Tea Tree
• Lavender
• Lemon

Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning
• Drooling
• Vomiting
• Difficulty walking, wobbliness (ataxia)
• Respiration distress (wheezing, fast breathing, panting, coughing)

It is important to talk with the veterinarian before using essential oils or aromatherapy devices around furry family members. If a pet has come into contact with or consumed essential oils, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 888-426-4435 or contact the veterinarian.

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