Essential Oils and Your Pets

Recently, there have been a lot of articles floating around the internet about essential oils and whether or not they are safe to use on pets. The truth is, there is no solid yes or no answer to this question.

Are some more harmful than others? It depends on what they are mixed with and/or how they are diluted.

Are they problematic if they are diffused in a diffuser? Again, they can be, it depends on the scent and your pet’s health. Keep reading, we will get into that.

Some Facts

Some people like to use a more all-natural product for flea and tick prevention. Here are the common essential oils recommended on the internet for flea and tick prevention and why they can cause issues for pets:


– Minimal to moderate efficacy to control fleas.

– It needs to be diluted properly.

– If not diluted properly, can cause: dermatitis, oral irritation, lethargy, vomiting, salivation, ataxia (the loss of full control of bodily movements) and muscle tremors.

– It can penetrate skin and cause decrease in blood pressure leading to hypothermia.

Melaleuca (tea tree oil)

– Can provide antibacterial and antifungal properties, but at high concentrations that are often toxic to animals.

– No efficacy for fleas has been established.

– Ataxia, weakness, tremors, depression in pets.

Pennyroyal Oil

– Google states effective against fleas and ticks, however it’s not proven.

– Contains volatile compound called pulegone which is highly toxic, particularly to the liver.

– Applied directly to an animal can cause depression, vomiting, liver failure, diarrhea, nose bleeds, seizures and death.



The truth of it is, dogs and cats can experience adverse effects of essential oils even if used at the proper label instructions. Leading experts in the veterinary field, like Dr. Richard Gerhold, DVM, MS, PhD, confirm that there is no support for the use of essential oils as parasite control. Fleas and ticks are more than just a nuisance; they can transmit debilitating, even deadly, diseases. Some of these diseases can be transmitted to people as well.

Many essential oils and liquid potpourri products, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to pets. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic. And not just dogs and cats, either. They can cause issues with rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters as well.

– So, should you get rid of all essential oils in the house?

Not necessarily. Just be sure to use caution with them. Use them in a secure room, where pets are not going to be exposed to them. Keep the oils out of reach of animals and secure the diffuser so it can’t get knocked over. Pet-proofing is important.

  • If you have a pet with respiratory issues, such as asthma, it’s best not to use them at all.
  • If you have a bird, do not use them at all! Birds have sensitive respiratory tracts and oils may cause serious problems.
  • Dogs and cats have a more developed sense of smell. So even the smells can cause them discomfort.

If you are using essential oils directly on your pets, please discontinue and give us a call. If it’s alternative medicine you are looking for, our Dr. Hertel can help guide you in the right direction. He is familiar with other all-natural products that are pet friendly. And anytime you see articles floating around on social media that you are questioning, just call us, (603) 437-1010. We are happy to help.


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