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Which Essential Oils Are Safe For Cats and Dogs? And Which Are Not Safe

Updated on July 10, 2019
NaturallyInspired profile image

Jennifer is passionate about essential oils, natural medicine, and green cleaning. She believes that essential oils have changed her life.

Many people use essential oils in their home but some may not have considered how this affects their pets. Even just diffusing certain essential oils in the home can be toxic to your animals. Some pets may have more severe reactions than others and some may have no noticeable reaction at all. Some people even use essential oils directly on their animals as a natural flea and tick repellent.

While your pets can benefit from the use of essential oils, you should know how to use them safely and which ones to avoid. In this article, I will go over which oils are good for your pets as well as which oils may be harmful to them. I will also go over how your pets can benefit from essential oils and how to safely use them.

Essential Oils that are NOT Safe for Pets

According to West Hill Animal Clinic, there are essential oils that are specifically not safe for dogs as well as ones that are specifically not safe for cats.

Essential Oils that are NOT SAFE for dogs:

• Clove
• Garlic
• Juniper
• Rosemary
• Tea tree
• Thyme
• Wintergreen
• Oregano

Essential Oils that are NOT SAFE for cats:

• Cassia
• Cinnamon
• Lemon
• Citrus
• Clove
• Eucalyptus
• Lavender
• Peppermint
• Tea tree
• Thyme
• Spruce
• Pennyroyal
• Birch

Animals are more sensitive to smell than we are so even running your essential oil diffuser can be very bothersome to your pet or even detrimental to their health. Always make sure there is proper ventilation when running these diffusers around your pets. If you are running a diffuser in a particular room (like your bedroom at night) leave a door open so that your pet has the option to leave the room if they are bothered by the smell.

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for Dogs


Lavender oil has a relaxing effect and dogs can benefit from it the same way humans do. Dogs that suffer from anxiety and nervousness can especially benefit from lavender oil. Simply diffuse lavender like you normally would or mix a drop of lavender oil with a carrier oil in your palms and rub it on the bottom of your dog's paws. Lavender oil can also help with skin irritations and can be used on your dog when mixed with a carrier oil.


Cedarwood oil is also known to have a calming effect and can be beneficial for dogs when used in a diffuser. It can also act as a natural pesticide and insect repellent so it can be used to make a homemade, natural flea repellent and treatment. It is also good for the skin and can be used to treat minor skin irritations.


Frankincense is an excellent immune system booster and can be used in your diffuser for the benefit of you and your dog. It also helps to reduce stress and improve sleep.


Lemon oil is great for diffusing around dogs to get rid of unwanted odours. However, some dogs may be sensitive to lemon oil so make sure to watch for signs of irritation like excessive sneezing or rubbing their nose between their paws.


Lemongrass is also great for getting rid of bad smells. And it's mild enough that won't likely irritate your dog. It can also be diffused to repel fleas, ticks, and mosquitos or it can be used to make a natural bug repellent to spray on your dog.

Don't forget to dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil. Never put pure essential oils directly on your dog.

Make sure to only use very small amounts of essential oils on dogs and always test it on a small area of the dog when trying a new oil. Wait 24 hours to make sure there are no reactions before you use the oil on a larger area.

Essential Oils and Aromtherapy for Cats


Because Frankincense has a calming ability, it is especially good for cats with stress or aggression problems. It may also be beneficial for cats with digestive problems.


Jasmin oil can be used to reduce stress and depression in cats by boosting their mood and balancing their hormones. You can diffuse the oil or add a few drops to a spray bottle with water and carefully spray it on your cat.


Rosemary is an effective flea repellent that can be used by diffusing or diluting and spraying on your cat. Rosemary oil in combination with Cedarwood oil is even more effective against fleas and other insects.


Helichrysum can be used topically on cats to help with pain relief and skin issues. It can also help support the nervous system and boost heart health.

Don't forget to dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil. Never put pure essential oils directly on your cat.

Make sure to only use very small amounts of essential oils on cats and always test it on a small area of the cat when trying a new oil. Wait 24 hours to make sure there are no reactions before you use the oil on a larger area.

How to Use Essential Oils for Pets

First, make sure you are only using 100 percent therapeutic grade essentials oils and always dilute them with a carrier oil before applying them to your pet. The amount of essential oil to carrier oil varies by pet but generally, you should use a 1:50 ratio which is 1 drop of essential oil with 50 drops of carrier oil such as vegetable oil or olive oil.

Another option is to dilute the essential oils with water in a spray bottle and carefully spray them on your pet. Or you can out a few drops of essential oils in your diffuser and let it run for 10 to 15 minutes in your home.

Safety Tips for Using Essential Oils for Your Pets

  1. It is always best to talk to your vet before deciding to use essential oils on your pet.
  2. Never put essential oils directly on your pet. Always make sure to dilute with carrier oil or water.
  3. Animals are more sensitive to the effects of essential oils then we are. Only use small amounts (1 to 2 drops) at a time, even when diffusing.
  4. Test the oil on a small area on your pet first and wait 24 hours to make sure your pet does not have any negative reactions.
  5. Always make sure you are using pure high-quality therapeutic grade essential oils on your pets.
  6. Essential oil diffusers should be kept up and away from your pet to avoid your pet from knocking it over and coming in contact with the oils.
  7. When using an essential oil diffuser or any aromatherapy, only use the oils in small amounts (no more than a few drops). Cats and dogs are very sensitive to smells and too much of even the safe oils can irritate them.

Signs and Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning in Pets

  • Shivering and shaking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Trouble walking
  • Low heart rate
  • Coughing, wheezing, or fast breathing
  • Drooling


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    • NaturallyInspired profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer C 

      11 months ago

      Thanks for your comment Madeleine. Yes, dilution is very important for animals and people. Good to hear you have had success with lavender oil and your dog. I too have a very high strung dog so I know how it is.

    • Madeleine Clays profile image

      Madeleine Clays 

      12 months ago

      This is a very helpful article. I have a very high strung dog and am always looking for strategies to calm him. I notice that lavender seems to have a relaxing effect on him. Thanks for the reminder that we should always dilute the essential oil with water or a carrier oil. I need to remember this.

    • NaturallyInspired profile imageAUTHOR

      Jennifer C 

      12 months ago

      Thanks for the comments ladies. There is a lot of conflicting information out there about essential oils and pets. We just have to remember that they are more sensitive than we are so we have to take extra caution. There are only a few oils that are safe for pets (most are not), and we should only use them in small amounts. But there's no reason why pets shouldn't benefit from essential oils as we do :)

    • Ellison Hartley profile image

      Ellison Hartley 

      12 months ago from Maryland, USA

      This is interesting. I have heard so many conflicting opinions on pets and essential oils. I use them for myself every day so eventually would like to try it on my animals.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      As essential oils are becoming increasingly popular, this is a very helpful article for pet owners.


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