What You Should Know About Essential Oils and Your Pets

Essential oils can be great for using around the home, but did you know that some can harm your pet? Here is a list of potentially harmful oils to keep away from your pets.


  • ​Melaleuca Oil (aka Tea Tree Oil)​​​​

    • Used to treat skin irritations and as flea treatment/prevention

    • Symptoms: depression, ataxia (uncoordinated gait), paralysis of rear legs, vomiting, hypothermia (low body temperature), skin irritation

    • Oral and dermal toxicity​

  • Pennyroyal Oil

    • Used as an insect repellent ​

    • Oral and dermal toxicity

    • Symptoms: liver failure

  • Wintergreen Oil

    • Used for pain relief​

    • Symptoms: aspirin toxicity, vomiting due to severe gastrointestinal upset and ulcers, potential renal and liver failure

  • Pine Oil

    • Used as a disinfectant, deodorizer, household cleaning products, massage oils​, pain reduction

    • Symptoms: dermal or gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting (possibly with blood), drooling, weakness, ataxia, effects on the central nervous system, potential renal and liver failure


If you suspect your dog has ingested an essential oil, please do NOT induce emesis (vomiting) - your dog can aspirate the oils and develop aspirate pneumonia.


Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has been exposed to essential oils.


  • Oils that can cause harm:

    • Wintergreen​

    • Sweet Birch

    • Citrus

    • Pine

    • Ylang Ylang

    • Peppermint

    • Cinnamon

    • Pennyroyal

    • Clove

    • Eucalyptus

    • Tea Tree

  • Cats can absorb oils through their skin or ingest it when the wash their fur

  • Cats lack a specific enzyme to break down certain toxins like essential oils

  • Symptoms:

    • Drooling, vomiting, tremors, ataxia, respiratory distress, low heart rate, low body temperature, liver failure​

  • Passive diffusers (reed diffusers, plug-in warming diffusers, jewelry diffusers) are less harmful

  • Active Essential Oil diffusers (nebulizing and ultrasonic) produce microdroplets of the oil which can land on your cat's fur if they are in the room

  • Inhalation of strong odors can cause watery nose and eyes, a burning sensation in the nose/throat, nausea leading to drooling and/or vomiting

  • Sings of difficulty breathing:

    • Labored breathing​

    • Fast breathing

    • Panting

    • Coughing

    • Wheezing

  • NONE of these signs are normal

If you suspect your cat has come into contact with an essential oil, please call your veterinarian immediately.

Information curtesy of Pet Poison Helpline

Visit their website for more information