The Best & Worst Essential Oils to Use Around Pets

Is it safe to use essential oils around my pet?

If you are a pet lover and use essential oils, you may have found yourself asking this question before.

Any dog or cat lover wants to do everything they can to keep their fur baby safe. Birds, fish, reptiles, and small mammals are also beloved pets to consider when using essential oils in a household. This article will provide a list of the best and worst oils to use around pets. Plus, there are safety guidelines to consider when enjoying essential oils around animals.

Best & worst essential oils for pets

Note: This list does not include every essential oil possible. This graphic is mainly about dogs and cats. Further, all furry individuals are unique, and your dog or cat may not tolerate certain essential oils. Other animals such as reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and small mammals can experience negative side effects with exposure to essential oils. Please consult your Veterinarian with questions or concerns.

These essential oils are generally safe to diffuse in a home with cats and dogs when properly diluted.

Caution: There’s a big difference between lavender and lavandin. In fact, lavandin contains cineole and camphor, and should generally be avoided with pets. Be aware that some companies may sell bottles labeled “lavender,” yet if you check the plant source, it might actually be lavandin.

Click here to learn the main differences between lavender and lavandin to help protect your pets.

What are the Worst Essential Oils for Pets?


Did you know that dogs have over 220 million smell receptors and that cats have 45 to 80 million? In comparison, humans have about 5 million receptors.

It’s easy to see that your pet’s sense of smell is magnified in comparison to yours. Furthermore, pets require a lower exposure to essential oils related to their smaller size and differing anatomy. Did you know that cats do not have the enzymes to break down certain chemicals found in essential oils and excessive exposure can cause a toxic reaction?

If you’re not careful – you may unknowingly be causing your pet to experience skin irritations, allergies, and other unwanted reactions while using essential oils around your home.

Here are some ways to safely use essential oils around your pets.

Never use poor-quality essential oils with your pets.

You should always use high-quality, 100% pure essential oils. Make sure you are utilizing quality ingredients you are putting into the air around you. Some low-quality oils contain harmful chemical ingredients such as pesticides or pollutants. Furthermore, inferior distillation and storage methods that can destroy the natural health and therapeutic benefits of pure essential oils.

That’s why it’s important to dig a little deeper to find out if the company you’re buying from has a strict standard in place that ensures quality.

Essential Oil Dos and Don’ts for Cats

Utilizing aromatherapy with cats is limited because felines lack enzymes to break down many chemical components in essential oils. Overexposure can lead to toxicity. To reduce risk, here are a few pointers:

  • Be sure to use high-quality oils purchased from a reputable source.
  • When diffusing, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area and that your cats can exit the room if they want to. Diffuse in 10-minute increments once or twice a day.
  • Avoid the use of certain essential oils around your cat. (Link to Worst List)
  • Discontinue diffusing essential oils if you notice any adverse reactions in your cat.
  • Only applying essential oils topically on cats with guidance from a Veterinarian trained in the safe use of essential oils.
  • Avoid applying essential oil products onto your body, and then snuggling with your cat.
  • Contact your Veterinarian with any questions or concerns.

Essential oils that could be harmful to dogs

Dogs can be sensitive to certain smells, too. The following oils have been known to cause irritations and skin allergies when used around them:

  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Clove
  • Wintergreen
  • Thyme
  • Anise
  • Peppermint

Note: Some pet owners have reported that their pets had strong allergic reactions such as frequent sneezing when diffusing peppermint essential oil. Using peppermint essential oil around your pets is not recommended.

Just remember that the type of oil you use is only one factor to consider. It is just as important to make sure you are using oils correctly when your precious pets are around.

We’ll dive into that later. But first, we want you to know which essential oils are appropriate in a pet-friendly home.

Click here to read about the best essential oils to use around dogs.

What are the Best Essential Oils for Pets?

When used safely, both you and your pet can enjoy essential oils at home. Here are some of our pet-friendly favorites:


Essential Oils to Promote Healthy Skin and Fur for your Dog

Cedarwood, lavender, and chamomile may all be great essential oils to use if skin irritations and allergies plague your pet.

Lavender, in particular, may help calm and relax the nervous system and reduce inflammation to help give your pet natural allergy relief. It may even help reduce itching and mild skin irritations. Essential oils should be very heavily diluted before using topically on dogs.

Continue reading this article for basic topical dilution guidelines. Always consult your Vet before using essential oils on your dog’s skin or fur.

The Best Oils to Help Calm Anxious Pets

Just like with humans, chamomile, lavender, and patchouli are all great choices for stressed out or anxious furry companions. The calming properties in these oils may help soothe nervousness and settle over-excited behavior. To use, add 2 drops of essential oil to a 6-ounce cool mist diffuser and diffuse for 10 minutes in a well-ventilated area.

The Best Oils to Help With Joint Pain in Dogs

Hip dysplasia and arthritis may wreak havoc on your elderly pet’s joints, causing discomfort each time they move.

One way you may be able to give your pet natural, relief is by using a pet-friendly blend containing ginger essential oil.

This oil may contain anti-inflammatory properties to help make it easier for your pet to move around. 

Finally, with ginger, you also get the extra perk of it possibly being a digestive aid

Always consult your Vet before applying essential oils topically on your dog. To use, dilute ginger essential oil heavily in a carrier oil per the dilution chart below. 

As you can see, each oil is different. Some oils should be avoided when your fur babies are present, while others may be just as beneficial for your four-legged friends as they are for you.

Whether you are thinking about using essential oil to help soothe your pet’s ailments or just want a pet-friendly option to use for yourself, it’s important to follow these safety pointers to maximize the benefits of your essential oils (and minimize any side effects).

How to Safely Use Essential Oils Around Pets

Follow these safety tips so both you and your furry pets can enjoy essential oils together.

How To Safely Use Essential Oils Around Your Pets

With diffusing, Test a small amount first

Just because an essential oil is safe for pets, in general, doesn’t mean it’s safe for your pet. That’s why this first step is so crucial.

You want to start out slow so you can see how your pet reacts.

Add 1-2 drops of any of the pet-friendly oils we’ve listed to an essential oil diffuser and allow the aroma to permeate the room in 10-minute intervals.

Be sure to keep a door open so your pet can leave the room if the smell starts to become bothersome. Try this with any essential oil you want to use and carefully monitor your pet’s reactions or any discomfort they may experience.

Avoid using essential oils for prolonged periods of time, and avoid using one specific essential oil on a regular basis. Overexposure and repeated exposure to the same smell over and over again can be unhealthy.

Never apply essential oils undiluted topically on your dog’s skin or fur.

Essential oils straight out of the bottle are way too potent to be applied topically to your pet. To avoid potential internal and external irritations, you should always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil. To determine if this is a safe option for your dog, consult with your Veterinarian first. They’ll be able to use your pet’s medical history to advise you on how best to incorporate essential oils into your pet’s care.

Further, it is best to avoid topical use of essential oils with cats, reptiles, amphibians, and birds unless advised by a Veterinarian specially trained in the use of essential oils. Note that cats lack enzymes to break down certain chemicals in essential oils, and frequent fur licking can cause organ toxicity.

General Essential Oil Dilution Guideline for Dogs

25 lb – 0.50%
50 lb – 0.75%
75 lb – 1%

Additionally, if you use essential oils on your own skin (topically), pay special attention to how you’re petting your fur baby. We love cuddling with our pups on the couch, but it’s important to avoid contact with any areas where you’ve applied oils.

Both cats and dogs lick themselves clean and you don’t want them licking up the essential oil residue you left behind when you gave them that intense tummy scratching session during a Netflix marathon!

Store and use your oils in a safe place

Keep your essential oil bottles and diffusers on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet to deter curious noses from snooping.

Depending on what oil is being used, both pure and diluted essential oils may be harmful when ingested. So, remember to keep your oils safely tucked away when not in use and clean up after any spills that may happen when using a diffuser or blending with carrier oils.

Essential oil diffusers should be operated away from areas where your pets sleep, eat or play. Again, we recommend a tall shelf or a kitchen counter that is well out of reach of rambunctious pets.

Just 1-2 drops added to a diffuser can be enough to permeate a room, even from a corner. Remember, a small amount goes a long way!

Start Enjoying Your Pet-Friendly Essential Oils

Now you know which oils to avoid around pets, which ones to use, and a few safety tips to keep in mind. Always be sure to check with your veterinarian before using essential oils around your pet. 

Using a diffuser in short increments lets you and your pet enjoy the soothing benefits of natural essential oils. Enjoy diffused aroma for 10 minutes a few times a day.

And remember, Every oil and every pet is different, and you want to make sure you are around in case a spill or skin irritation occurs.

To get started today, you can purchase any of the pet-friendly essential oils we have mentioned here. You can trust that you are using 100% pure and natural essential oils from farm to you that have been tested by third-party labs to ensure their purity and quality.

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