Using essential oils safely around your pets

With the growing popularity in home aromatherapy and essential oil use in wellbeing and self-care routines, it's really important to do your research and take care when using essential oils around your fur babies.

In their concentrated form (100%), essential oils can be damaging for both humans and animals and if you're a dog or cat owner you should know which oils are toxic to your pet. 

If you follow Essence + Alchemy on Instagram, you will have seen my faithful Border Collie Jack enjoying time up in the lab.  Just as I look after my own safety when handling concentrated essential oils, it's important that I'm careful on the days when Jack visits the lab too. 

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Firstly, I don't allow Jack into the lab on days when I'm blending or using essential oils. He normally likes to visit on days when I'm packing/labelling, wick making or carrying out admin work.  I also know that Jack has a far more enhanced sense of smell than me, so just because conditions are right for me they won't be for him and he won't hang around if they aren't.  

I've listed some of the essential oils which are toxic to cats and dogs together with some useful tips on how to safeguard your pets health while looking after your own wellbeing. 

The following essential oils are definite no-no's and direct contact with these oils should be avoided: 

  • Dogs - anise, clove, juniper, thyme, wintergreen. Garlic and horseradish essential oils can also cause a range of allergic reactions.
  • Cats - clove, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, wintergreen, sweet birch oil, lavender, citrus, peppermint, pennyroyal oil, eucalyptus and tea-tree. 

If you want to use essential oils at home, here are a few tips to keep your pet safe:

  • Always store your oils in a closed cabinet or drawer out of harms way.
  • Never touch your pet after handling or applying essential oils to your skinIf there is any residual oil on your hands, it can easily be transferred onto their fur, which will lead to skin absorption or them ingesting it when cleaning themselves. Always be cautious and wash your hands after handling essential oils.
  • When you use essential oils as cleaners, a residue is left on the surface. If your pet rubs against this surface or licks it, they can easily end up ingesting some of the toxic oil. Use essential oil cleaning products that don't contain high concentrations of pet toxic oils and ensure that they are safely diluted. 
  • When an oil is diffused into the air,  it's likely that your pet will inhale the vapours and the toxic components of the oil will be able to make their way into your pet's body very easily.  Use essential oils that are pet-friendly and always diffuse in a well-ventilated room with easy egress for your pet so they can leave if they don't like it. 
  • Very few essential oils are safe for humans to use neat, so they're not going to be good for your pet either. It's always advisable to use essential oils as diluted as possible for them to still be effective. This way, accidental exposure of your pet to the oil is less likely to be enough to cause a toxic buildup.

There are many benefits to using essential oils at home, but remember, they are highly concentrated and potent and should always be handled with care. For your own safety, as well as those around you, educate yourself before using an essential oil for the first time and if in doubt consult a certified aromatherapist.