Essential oils extracted from plants can be very beneficial to humans, but some can be harmful to dogs and cats. According to the Foundanimals.org website, the following essential oils are toxic to your pets.
Essential oils harmful to cats
Oils that are harmful to cats include, but are not limited to: wintergreen; sweet birch; citronella oils and candles; citrus (d-limonene); pine; ylang-ylang; peppermint; cinnamon; pennyroyal; clove; eucalyptus; tea tree (melaleuca); thyme; oregano; and lavender.
Essential oils harmful to dogs
Oils that are harmful to dogs include, but are not limited to: cinnamon; citrus (d-limonene); pennyroyal; peppermint; pine; sweet birch; tea tree (melaleuca); wintergreen; ylang-ylang; anise; clove; thyme; juniper; onion; yarrow; and garlic.
Although safe for humans to smell and even absorb through the skin, many of these oils can be poisonous and toxic to animals because the animal’s body does not process the oil in the same way as the human body.
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As we know, the dog’s sense of smell is around 10,000 times better than that of a human, so that peppermint or cinnamon scent that we find pleasing is extremely strong to your dog to the point of making the dog ill. Pets can be overexposed to a toxic odor simply by staying in a room with the origin of the scent all day while you are at work. A dog or a cat that has 200 million odor senses in their nose (humans have 5 million) could experience difficulty breathing, drooling, fatigue, weakness, difficulty walking or stumbling, muscle tremors, pawing at the mouth or face, redness or burns on their lips, tongue, skin or gums, and vomiting.
To make our homes smell pleasant, we may inadvertently be harming our pets in the process. Diffusers and plug-ins that release a constant flow of scent placed in the electrical outlet next to the cat’s litter box could be the reason why the cat has stopped using the litter box. We think the room smells much better, so the cat should be happy with the odor, but this is very unlikely. Always check the ingredients of an odor-control device or refill before bringing it home to a pet that cannot escape the odor due to being locked in the home. Even burning a citronella candle on your lanai in the open air can still make an animal ill. Keep in mind most electrical outlets and candles sitting on a cocktail table are at the same level as many pets; thus, they are getting the most pungent odors first.
Cannabis or marijuana is also toxic to dogs and cats, so if you have a medical marijuana card or use recreational marijuana, don’t blow the smoke into your pets’ faces. They will get high from the smoke and also sick. They don’t like being high because they don’t understand what is happening, and unlike humans will have more anxiety instead of chilling out with less.
When experimenting with essential oils or plant extracts, keep your pet’s health in mind before making a purchase. If you witness your pet experiencing the symptoms mentioned above but have no idea why they are acting the way they are, immediately take a big whiff. The culprit might be that pine-scented diffuser you just plugged into the outlet by the dogs’ bed.
Remember to adopt, don’t shop, and when you adopt, keep your pets safe and healthy by thinking about their environment as well.
Barry KuKes is the community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.