Your essential oil diffuser could be poisoning your cat or dog

Your essential oil diffuser could be poisoning your cat or dog
Keep your pets safe around essential oils (Picture: Getty)

Normally when Facebook ‘warnings’ are shared on our timelines, there’s little cause for concern.

Whether it’s an alert about bags being stolen in supermarkets or a phone phishing scam, they’re normally the staple of boomer Facebook rather than something to actually worry about.

There’s a current story doing the rounds, however, that acts as a genuine word of caution.

One woman called Marianna told a story about her own dog, who was acting strangely and unresponsive to his own name.

When she turned off her essential oil diffuser, however, her dog got better. Marianna didn’t realise the connection until another day when the pup had to be taken to the vet, where they told her just how common these issues are.

Essential oils can be extremely harmful to cats and dogs, and depending on which oils you use, can seriously affect their livers.

Vet, Zoe Costigan, from pet wellbeing specialist firm, told ‘We need to be cautious when it comes to keeping essential oils in our homes as many oils could be potentially toxic to our pets.

‘Essential oils – as well as being used in room diffusers – are found in many products such as shampoos, air fresheners, insect repellants and may be accidentally ingested, absorbed across the skin or inhaled by animals’

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Just like salt lamps, which are so hot right now, essential oil diffusers are a popular product as the wellness industry goes. Also like salt lamps, though, you need to be very aware of how they can effect your pets.

Essential oils that may be dangerous to cats and dogs

  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang
  • Thyme

Symptoms of essential oil poisoning

According to Zoe: ‘Signs of toxicity are variable depending on the type of oil, the concentration of the oil and how the pet has been exposed.’

Common initial signs of a problem may be:

  • Irritation to the face, paws or area of application
  • Hair loss
  • Inflamed skin
  • Hypersalivation
  • Retching or coughing.

In more severe cases animals may experience:

  • Behavioural changes
  • Ataxia (the loss of full control of bodily movements)
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing

What to do if your pet is showing symptoms

The first thing you should do is call a vet as soon as you think your pet might have been poisoned by essential oils.

If you still want to use essential oils in the home but keep your pets safe, you should opt for a passive diffuser. Unlike the ones common the market at the moment that use electricity and vibrations to diffuse the oils (active diffusers), these won’t use any stimulus – therefore making it less intense.

Print out and keep this handy chart of what foods your dog should NOT be given.

You’ve probably seen passive diffusers in the shops, as they can include reed diffusers that are easily available in any homeware shop. They can also come in the form of jewellery that gently lets the oils into the air.

It’s also important to stay aware of your pet’s habits before choosing oils for your home. For example, Zoe says, ‘Cats are even more sensitive to the effects of essential oils and although they rarely ingest them directly like dogs they may ingest them whilst grooming themselves or their housemates’.

So, if you have a cat, or a dog more prone to licking themselves or items in the house, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

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