Essential Oils for Pets: A Guide to Safe and Effective Use

Key Takeaways

  • Some essential oils can be toxic to pets, so proper research and precautions are necessary before use.
  • Oils should always be diluted before applying topically on pets.
  • Diffusing oils around pets is generally safe if done carefully and monitored.
  • Speak to a veterinarian before using any essential oils on or around pets.
Essential Oils for Pets


Essential oils have grown in popularity for use with humans due to their purported health and wellness benefits. As more pet owners use essential oils themselves, questions arise about whether these oils are safe to use on or around pets. While some oils can be beneficial for pets, many can be toxic if used incorrectly. Proper research and precautions are necessary to ensure the safe use of essential oils with furry companions.

Some essential oils have calming, soothing, or insect-repelling properties that can be useful for pets when applied properly. However, cats and dogs process oils differently than humans do, so an oil deemed safe for a human may not necessarily be safe for pets. This guide covers how to safely use essential oils around pets, including proper dilution, diffusion, and speaking with a veterinarian first.

How to Use Essential Oils Safely with Pets

The most important rule is to always dilute an essential oil before topical use on pets. Oils in their undiluted form are highly concentrated and can cause skin irritation or toxicity if applied directly. Depending on the size of the pet, a dilution ratio of 0.5% to 1% is typically recommended[1]. This involves mixing 1-2 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil before applying sparingly to the pet’s coat.

When diffusing essential oils around pets, exercise caution and monitor the pet for any reactions. Diffusing for short periods of time per day is best. Always provide an area the pet can move away from the diffuser if desired. Diffusing oils that are known toxins for pets should be avoided completely.

Before using any essential oil on or around a pet, consult with a veterinarian first. Never apply oils near a pet’s eyes, nose, or genitals. And when in doubt, err on the side of caution and dilute more, diffuse less, and monitor the pet for adverse reactions.

Essential Oils to Avoid for Pets

Some essential oils should always be avoided for use with pets due to known toxicity

  • Tea tree oil
  • Wintergreen
  • Sweet birch
  • Citrus oils like lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc.
  • Pine
  • Ylang ylang
  • Peppermint

If ingested or absorbed transdermally, these oils can cause symptoms like hypothermia, central nervous system depression, breathing issues, gastrointestinal upset, and skin irritation in pets[3]. Again, consult with your vet before using any essential oil on pets.

Essential Oils Potentially Safe for Pets

The following oils may be safe for pets when used properly under the care of a veterinarian and with proper dilution/diffusion[4]:

  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Fennel
  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Marjoram

These oils may offer calming, pain relief, or anti-inflammatory properties. But research is still limited on their efficacy for pets, so veterinary guidance is recommended[5]. Start with minimal usage and monitor the pet closely for any adverse effects.


Essential oils can be beneficial for pets when used carefully, but many oils carry significant risks. Dilute oils before topical use, diffuse cautiously for short periods, and avoid known toxic oils for pets. Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial before using any essential oil on or around a furry companion. With proper precautions, some essential oils can be safe additions to promoting a pet’s health and wellbeing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I apply essential oils topically to my pet? Only with extreme caution and dilution. Oils should be diluted to 0.5-1% before very minimal application to the coat, away from eyes, nose, and genitals. Always monitor for reactions.

How often can essential oils be diffused safely around pets? Diffusing for only 15-30 minutes per day is recommended, providing ample area the pet can move away. Monitor for any signs of respiratory distress.

Which essential oil is best for calming pets? Lavender and chamomile are generally considered safe and may have calming effects. But consult a vet first and monitor the pet closely when diffusing or applying diluted oil.

Can I use essential oils to repel fleas/ticks on my pet? Essential oils have limited evidence for insect repelling properties[6]. Stick to proven veterinary-prescribed products for flea/tick prevention and treatment. Avoid using any new oils without veterinary guidance.

Are essential oil diffusers safe to use around birds? Birds are highly sensitive. Any diffusing around birds is risky and should be avoided, even oils considered generally safe[7].









About the author:
Shahane Tan

Shahane Tan

Shahane Tan, a Nursing graduate from Xavier University, combines healthcare expertise with roles in real estate and life coaching. Passionate about holistic well-being, her insights bridge science and practicality. Explore her balanced wellness approach at


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