Essential oils are the volatile, organic constituents of plants that contribute to both the scent and taste of the plant. They are used in a lot of ways in daily life: in aromatherapy, personal care products, flavorings, herbal remedies and even liquid potpourri. And lately, they have become very popular in use in active diffusers – the type that send a fine mist into the air containing small particles of essential oil.
With the growing use of active essential oil diffusers, though, veterinarians and pet safety experts have seen more cases of pets experiencing essential oil toxicity. This toxicity is brought about because pets lack the necessary liver enzymes to process the oils, particularly glucuronyl transferase. Symptoms of essential oil toxicity include drooling, vomiting, tremors, unsteadiness, low heart rate, low body temperature, and coughing episodes. Animals experiencing these symptoms should be immediately moved into fresh air, and require emergency veterinary treatment if their symptoms do not reverse once they are in the fresh air. The vet will perform a complete examination and do a urinalysis and bloodwork to determine how to appropriately treat your pet.
There are a few oils that are particularly toxic to pets and should be avoided near them. These include:
Bergamot, camphor, clementine, clove (bud, leaf, stem), eucalyptus, fir, frankincense, grapefruit, juniper, lavender (spike), lavandin, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange (bitter, blood and sweet), oregano, peppermint, pine, rosemary, sage, spearmint, spruce, tangerine, tea tree, thyme, and yarrow
One good alternative to using essential oils around pets is to use hydrosols in your diffuser. You get the same scent benefit, but they are much safer for the animals in your life. Enjoy!