person playing with a dog person playing with a dog




Navigating the world of essential oils when you have pets is a delicate matter. While these oils come from natural plant sources, their effects on animals can vary greatly and need to be approached with caution. Before using essential oils around your pets, it is crucial to understand the potential risks and how to mitigate them. 

House pets, particularly dogs and cats, have a heightened sense of smell compared to humans. Many fragrances, including essential oils, can be overwhelming for them and may lead to respiratory issues, skin reactions, allergies, and other discomforts. Some reports advise against using essential oils on pets younger than 10 weeks, while others recommend avoiding them altogether. Essential oils can potentially affect various systems in pets, including their respiratory, immune, and nervous systems, so it's essential to exercise caution. 

It is of utmost importance to consult with a veterinarian before using Essential Oils on or near pets. In addition to this consultation, it is highly recommended to receive supplementary advice from a certified recognized, and reputable expert, such as an Animal Aromatherapist. In general, seek information from educated, impartial, and trustworthy sources. The combined expertise will help pet parents make well-educated decisions for the wellness of their pets as well as for the rest of the family. Essential Oils that seem not to have a harmful effect on one type of pet could have a distinctly opposite impact on the wellbeing of a different pet – so, even if your dog has a positive response to an oil, this does not mean the same oil should also be used on your cat, as cats have a greater number of stomach-related sensitivities in contrast with dogs.

It is also important to choose the safest variety of any given Essential Oil, as some varieties exhibit stronger properties that may be harmful compared to other, relatively milder varieties. This is where it would be highly beneficial to know the Latin botanical name of the markedly “safe” variety. Each Essential Oil exhibits diverse properties – even two oils from the same botanical, such as a “Leaf Oil” versus a “Bark Oil” can have vastly different effects on the pet’s body and on its senses. Not all Essential Oils will carry the same safeness as those that are widely used and believed to be safe for use on other pets or on humans, and those that are categorized as safe should still be handled with stringent safety measures.

When Essential Oils are introduced to the pet’s environment, the area in which it is used should be an open area with easy access to fresh air and from which the pet is free to leave. Essential Oils should be introduced one at a time in low doses in order to make it easy to spot the culprit in case of a potential allergic reaction. Keep a close eye on your pet when using Essential Oils on or around them, even if the Essential Oil is used on yourself, especially if you know you will be making physical contact with your pet. Any potential reactions could be experienced within the first 30 minutes of application, whether diffused or applied to the skin, or they can appear 24 hours after application. If your pet appears to be uncomfortable, anxious, or otherwise distressed or lethargic after the environment has been infused with an Essential Oil, immediately refrain from using this oil, remove the pet from this environment, take it to an area that is well-ventilated, and contact a veterinarian. Avoid topical application or diffusion of Essential Oils on or near caged pets, such as birds and rodents, as their confined spaces do not allow for an easy out if they become uncomfortable.

Always select Essential Oils that are 100% pure and, whenever possible, select ones that are Certified Organic to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals that could sometimes be used in the cultivation of the source botanical. Do not attempt to feed pets any Essential Oils or Carrier Oils.

Read on to learn more about the effects of Essential Oils on the most common house pets and to learn about their effects for various pet health problems.



  • Birds
  • Cats
  • Dogs (especially “flat-faced” breeds, which might have respiratory difficulties)
  • Fish
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Rabbits
  • Baby animals
  • Pregnant animals
  • Old animals
  • Sick animals
  • Feeble animals
  • Small breeds of animals



The essential oils that are considered to be gentle or “light” and which are thus most commonly used for pets are the oils in the following list, due to the belief that they are more comfortably endured by vulnerable body systems. 

Floral Oils

  • Chamomile (German or Roman) 

  • Clary Sage 

  • Marjoram Sweet 

Resin Oils

  • Myrrh 

Root Oils

  • Valerian 

  • Ginger 

Wood Oils

  • Cedarwood Virginian 

Despite the generalizations that are made about the relative safeness of many essential oils mentioned in this article, it is important to keep in mind that every animal’s biological makeup is unique, and products will interact differently from species to species; accordingly, the physical response will depend on the specific pet. Pet owners who are uncertain or reluctant to use a “safe” oil on or near their pets, should disregard the safe lists and consult a veterinarian. 



When used on or around pets, the following Essential Oils are often reputed to cause skin irritation, breathing difficulties, uncomfortable cooling effects, changes in alertness, weakness or fatigue, stumbling, vomiting, and paralysis, among various other potential effects. This list is not exhaustive: 

  • Anise Essential Oil
  • Basil Essential Oil
  • Birch Essential Oil
  • Calendula Essential Oil
  • Cassia Essential Oil
  • Cinnamon Essential Oil
  • Citronella Essential Oil
  • Clove Essential Oil
  • Cypress Essential Oil
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • Garlic Essential Oil
  • Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • Juniper Essential Oil
  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Lemon Essential Oil
  • Lime Essential Oil
  • Myrtle Essential Oil
  • Nutmeg Essential Oil
  • Orange Essential Oil
  • Oregano Essential Oil
  • Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Pennyroyal Essential Oil
  • Pine Essential Oil
  • Rosemary Essential Oil
  • Spearmint Essential Oil
  • Spruce Essential Oil
  • Tansy Essential Oil
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Thuja Essential Oil
  • Thyme Essential Oil
  • Wintergreen Essential Oil
  • Yarrow Essential Oil
  • Ylang Ylang Essential Oil



  1. Borage Seed Oil
  2. Coconut Oil
  3. Jojoba Oil
  4. Avocado Oil
  5. Aloe Vera
  6. Sunflower Oil
  7. Apricot Kernel Oil
  8. Sweet Almond Oil
  9. Grapeseed Oil
  10. Kukui Nut Oil



Before applying essential oils to a pet's skin, they should always be diluted. A generally recommended ratio is 1 drop of essential oil per 1.5 tablespoons (approx. 445 drops) of carrier oil, equating to a dilution of about 0.25%, which is considered mild and less likely to cause adverse reactions. 

Perform a patch test by applying a small amount of the diluted essential oil to a non-sensitive area of the pet's skin. If diffusing essential oils, conduct a test run by diffusing 1-2 drops of a vet-approved, pet-friendly oil for 10-15 minutes in a well-ventilated, open space. Monitor your pet for any signs of irritation or discomfort, such as skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, drooling, difficulty walking, slowed breathing, gastrointestinal upset, or other unusual behaviors. Reactions can take up to 24 hours to appear. If no reaction occurs, it may be considered safe to proceed with regular application of the diluted essential oil. 

The size of your pet is crucial when determining the appropriate dilution. What is safe for a large dog may not be safe for a smaller one, and the same applies to different species. Additionally, the amount used for older, pregnant, or unwell animals should be adjusted accordingly, as their tolerance levels may differ from healthy animals. Always consult a veterinarian for guidance tailored to your specific pet. 



Essential Oils should be handled in the same manner as other products that can pose potential dangers if mistreated. They should be stored in in an area that is cool, dark, and out of the reach of pets, and they should be used in accordance with their instructions and expiry dates. 




  • Use a water-based vaporizer
  • Use 1-2 drops of Essential Oil and diffuse intermittently – diffusing for 10 minutes then turning it off for 30 minutes
  • Place the diffuser out of reach of the pet, such as on a high shelf or in the corner of a room
  • Diffuse on the side of the room that is opposite the pet or in another room altogether


  • Does not require skin contact with or long-term exposure to Essential Oils
  • Depending on oil used, can help to eliminate offensive odors


  • Never use adult human doses for pets
  • Avoid using Essential Oils with strong, cooling, hot, or spicy aromas (e.g. Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Oregano, etc.) around pets
  • Ensure that the room remains well-ventilated and that there is an easy way out for a pet that does not enjoy the smell or does not feel comfortable with the diffused oil
  • Avoid diffusing Essential Oils inside a pet’s enclosed room and ensure that diffused oils are properly diluted
  • Do not allow the diffuser to run for extended periods, overnight, or non-stop
  • If using Essential Oils near a pet with or at risk of developing breathing difficulties, take extra precaution in the manner of application
  • When introducing an Essential Oil to a pet through diffusion, begin by testing a small amount of one oil at a time for a short amount of time to check for potential reactions; be aware that this trial period also poses potential harm for pets with respiratory difficulties/ailments
  • If Essential Oils are applied to any part of a pet’s body that can end up in its mouth (e.g. foot, hand), ensure that this body part remains covered after application
  • Immediately turn off a diffuser and seek medical attention at the first sign of a stronger side effect, such as breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, seizures, or unconsciousness
  • Avoid diffusing in areas where pets eat, sleep, or play



  • Spray only diluted Essential Oils
  • Spray only around an open, well-ventilated room


  • Helps to create a calming environment scent before rest period (depending on oil)
  • Avoids prolonged exposure to oils


  • Avoid spraying on pillows, other fabrics, or on toys and objects that the pet can put in the mouth and inadvertently ingest
  • Avoid spraying in areas where pets eat, sleep, or play



  • Always dilute with a Carrier Oil
  • If creating a body mist for the pet, spritz no more than 3 light sprays
  • If applying oils to a bird, apply them to a body part without any feathers, such as the feet, in order to prevent their feathers from becoming greasy, which in turn affects their ability to regulate body temperature (if birds cannot be handled, a small amount of the oil can be dabbed onto the pet’s perch)


May provide extended period of comfort


  • Use only Essential Oils and Carrier Oils that are approved by your veterinarian for the particular pet on which you want to apply it
  • Avoid stroking your pet near areas of fur/skin to which you’ve applied an oil
  • Avoid applying oils to areas that can go in the pet’s mouth (e.g. hands, feet)
  • Do not allow pets to walk across household surfaces that have been cleaned with Essential Oils, as they will clean themselves by licking and can thereby ingest the oils
  • Neither Essential Oils nor Hydrosols are water-soluble and thus should never be added to an aquarium, as they will irritate or potentially cause the death of the fish. Furthermore, Hydrosols can potentially disturb the water’s pH level.



As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, our Essential Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a veterinarian before using these oils on or near any pets or animals. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to pets. If using Essential Oils topically on yourself, ensure that they are absorbed into your skin or washed off before you come into contact with your pet, as any oils that remain on the skin can potentially be ingested by pets through licking or through their skin/fur, etc.

For pets with the following health conditions, owners are especially recommended to be advised by a veterinarian: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders, hair disorders, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Owners with pets that have been prescribed medication or that are undergoing major surgery or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes are also advised to seek medical consultation before use.

Prior to using any Essential Oil on a pet’s body, a patch test is strongly recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 1 tablespoon of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of the pet’s skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils and Carrier Oils must never be used near a pet’s mouth, eyes, nose, ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Always ensure that hands are washed thoroughly after handling Essential Oils and Carrier Oils. Never use adult human doses for pets.

Prior to diffusing an Essential Oil near a pet, a smell test is strongly recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in a water vaporizer and diffusing the oil for a few minutes in a large, open space on the opposite end from where the pet is. Aim to use an Essential Oil for only a maximum of 2 weeks before offering a rest period during which no oils are applied topically or diffused. This may help reduce the risk of developing a sensitivity to the oil. Never use adult human doses for pets. Ensure that diffusers are kept out of the pet’s reach.

In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a veterinarian immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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