The Best & Worst Essential Oils to Use Around Pets

Is it safe to use essential oils around my pet?

If you are a pet lover and use essential oils, you may have found yourself asking this question before.

Any dog or cat lover wants to do everything they can to keep their fur baby safe. And, while there are plenty of safe oils you can use around your pets, it’s important to know the types of smells and fragrances that may be irritants for their sensitive olfactory receptors, too.

To ensure you and your pet can both safely enjoy the many health benefits that come with essential oil use, we’ll explore the best and worst oils to use around pets, as well as some added safety tips for pet owners to keep in mind.

What are the Worst Essential Oils for Pets?

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Did you know that dogs have over 220 million smell receptors and that cats have 45 to 80 million? In comparison, humans have about 5 million receptors.

It’s easy to see that your pet’s sense of smell is magnified in comparison to yours. And that’s exactly why - if you’re not careful - you may end up unknowingly causing them skin irritations, allergies, and other unwanted side effects while diffusing essential oils or using them around your home.

Here’s how you can avoid these side effects:

Never buy low-grade essential oils for your pets

You should always use high-quality, 100% pure essential oils to make sure you know exactly what ingredients you are putting into the air around you. Some low-quality oils contain harmful chemical ingredients and pesticides and/or go through processing that destroys the natural health and therapeutic benefits of pure essential oils.

That’s why it’s important to dig a little deeper to find out if the company you’re buying from has a strict standard in place that ensures purity.

Avoid citrus essential oils if you’re a cat lover

While citrus smells may remind you of a never-ending beach vacation, they are the total opposite for your cat. The polyphenolic compounds found in citrus oils may affect how your cat’s liver detoxifies, which could cause a build-up of toxins to accumulate in your cat’s system.

To avoid these side effects, don’t use any grapefruit, lemon, or orange essential oils if you share your space with feline companions.

Here is a list of essential oils to leave out of your home if you live with cats:

  • Citrus
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Birch
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Oregano
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen

Essential oils that are harmful for dogs

Dogs can be sensitive to certain smells, too. The following oils have been known to cause irritations and skin allergies when used around them:

  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Clove
  • Wintergreen
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Anise

Just remember that the type of oil you use is only one factor to consider. It is just as important to make sure you are using oils correctly when your precious pets are around.

We’ll dive into that later, but first, we want you to know which essential oils you should reach for if you have a pet-friendly home.

What are the Best Essential Oils for Pets?

When used safely, both you and your pet can enjoy essential oils at home. Here are some of our pet-friendly favorites:

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Essential Oils to Promote Healthy Skin and Fur for your Pet

Cedarwood, marjoram, and myrrh may all be great essential oils to use if skin irritations and allergies plague your pet.

Marjoram, in particular, may help calm and relax the nervous system and reduce inflammation - two things that may give your pet natural allergy relief. It could also be ideal for pets suffering from digestive discomforts.

The Best Oils to Help to Calm Anxious Nerves and Excited Pets

Just like with humans, chamomile, lavender, and clary sage are all great choices for stressed out or anxious companions. The calming properties in these oils may help soothe away nervousness while also helping to settle down easily excited behaviors.

Chamomile, similar to marjoram, may also help alleviate upset stomachs in pets.

The Best Oils to Help Alleviate Arthritis and Joint Pain

Hip dysplasia and arthritis may wreak havoc on your elderly pet’s joints, causing them to experience discomfort each time they move.

One way you may be able to give your pet natural, holistic relief is by using a peppermint essential oil or a pet-friendly blend containing ginger essential oil.

These oils may contain anti-inflammatory properties that help make it easier for your pets to move around. Plus, the cooling effects of peppermint (thanks to its analgesic properties) have been known to act as a natural pain reliever.

Finally, with ginger, you also get the extra perk of it being a digestive aid.

As you can see, each oil is different. Some oils should be avoided when your fur babies are present, while others may be just as beneficial for your four-legged friends as they are for you.

Whether you are thinking about using an essential oil to help soothe your pet’s ailments or just want a pet-friendly option to use for yourself, it’s important to follow these safety pointers to maximize the benefits of your essential oils (and minimize any side effects).

How to Safely Use Essential Oils Around Pets

Follow these safety tips so both you and your pets can enjoy essential oils together.

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Test a small amount first

Just because an essential oil is safe for pets in general doesn’t mean it’s safe for your pet. That’s why this first step is so crucial.

You want to start out slow so you can see how your pet reacts.

Before using an oil for a prolonged period of time, add 1-2 drops of any of the pet-friendly oils we’ve listed to an essential oil diffuser and allow the aroma to permeate the room in 15-minute intervals.

Be sure to keep a door open so your pet can leave the room if the smell starts to bother them. Try this with any essential oil you want to use on a regular basis and carefully monitor your pet’s reactions or any discomforts they may experience.

Never apply essential oils topically on your pet

Essential oils straight out of the bottle are too potent to be applied topically to your pet. To avoid potential internal and external irritations, you should always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil. 

To determine if this is a safe option for your dog or cat, consult with your veterinarian or a holistic vet first. They’ll be able to use your pet’s medical history to advise you on how best to incorporate essential oils into your pet’s care.

Additionally, if you use essential oils on your own skin (topically), pay special attention to how you’re petting your fur baby. We love cuddling with our pups on the couch, but it’s important to rinse your hands first and avoid contact with any areas you’ve directly applied oils to.

Both cats and dogs lick themselves clean and you don’t want them licking up the essential oil residue you left behind during an intense tummy scratching session or Netflix marathon!

Store and use your oils in a safe place

Keep your essential oil bottles and diffusers on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet to deter curious noses from snooping.

Depending on what oil is being used, both pure and diluted essential oils may be harmful when ingested. So, remember to keep your oils safely tucked away when not in use and clean up after any spills that may happen when using a diffuser or while blending with carrier oils.

While using an essential oil diffuser, it’s a good idea to keep them away from areas where your pets sleep, eat or play. Again, we recommend a tall shelf or a kitchen counter that is well out of reach of rambunctious pets.

Just 1-2 drops added to a diffuser can be enough to permeate a small room, even from a corner. Your pets don’t (and shouldn’t) need to sleep right under a diffuser to get all the health benefits you’re hoping for.

Start Enjoying Your Pet-Friendly Essential Oils

Now you know which oils to avoid around pets, which ones to use, and a few safety tips to keep in mind. That means you’re ready to get started with some essential oils.

Consider using an essential oil diffuser to help dilute the concentration of your oils so you and your pet can start enjoying some of the soothing benefits of natural essential oils.

And remember, you should always test a small batch (1-2 drops at most) before exposing your pet to an essential oil for a long period of time, turning off your diffuser when you leave for the day. Every oil and every pet is different, so you want to make sure you are around if a spill or skin irritation occurs.

To get started today, you can purchase any of the pet-friendly essential oils we have mentioned here and be confident you are using 100% pure and natural essential oils from farm to you that have been quality tested!