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Can Aromatherapy Diffusers Make Your Pet Sick?

A cat sniffing an aromatherapy diffuser.
Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock

You might be patting yourself on the back for ditching the plugin air fresheners and replacing them with more natural essential oil diffusers, but if you have pets you definitely want to read up on the dangers of using essential oils around them.

While there isn’t research yet on the long-term use of aromatherapy diffusers and pets, there are some things we know for sure. Certain essential oils are very toxic to our pets, and the best way to mitigate the risk is to simply not use them in our homes. If there’s no oil floating in the air or where our pets can knock over the diffuser to ingest it, then there’s no risk to them.

Here are some of the essential oils that are toxic to cats and should also be avoided with dogs:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ylang ylang
  • Clove oil
  • Wintergreen

Speaking of oils, it’s a great time to mention the use of oils in other contexts like cleaning. If you use a product with pine oil in it for cleaning, you could be harming your cat, as pine oil is also toxic to dogs and cats.

Although the ASPCA says you don’t need to pitch your diffuser, they do have a list of suggestions to minimize the risk:

  • Use your diffuser in a room your cats and dogs don’t have access to. This way, you still get the benefits, but you’re reducing your pet’s risk of exposure.
  • If you have pets with respiratory issues, it’s definitely in your best interest to get rid of your diffuser and oils.

Some oils are more dangerous to pets than others. Do some research on your chosen oils—you might find you can still use some of them in your home. Don’t use them directly around or on your pets without consulting your veterinarian first. When in doubt, just skip using them altogether. Whatever joy you get from a sweet-smelling house will certainly be short-lived if you find out it’s hurting your beloved pet.

Finally, If you believe your pet has been exposed to toxic essential oils and is sick (experiencing vomiting, lethargy, or symptoms of an allergic reaction), contact your vet or local 24-hour veterinary emergency service. If you don’t already have their numbers listed with the rest of your emergency numbers, now would be a great time to add them.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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