Many natural pet care products seem to contain similar compounds used in human products. However, that does not mean you should use these products indiscriminately on your pets.
Dogs and cats have a more acute sense of smell than we do, and what smells good to us may be, at times, overwhelming to them, even irritating. In addition to acute sense of smell, Cats are sensitive to essential oils for a few more reasons. Cats have delicate and thin skin, which allows for quicker absorption of concentrated essential oils into their bloodstream and most importantly, cats can't efficiently metabolize some of the compounds in essential oils, which can lead to toxic build-up in their livers. Cats are deficient in the liver enzyme glucuronyl tranferases, which impairs their ability to eliminate compounds through hepatic glucuronidation. In other mammals, Glucuronidation is an important detoxification mechanism. Lack of this important detoxification mechanism in cats may result in slower elimination of these compounds and may result in buildup of these metabolites in the body causing toxicity.
Essential oils should not be used indiscriminately on your pet. Essential oils in pet care products are generally constituted in greatly diluted amounts. For example, many natural flea shampoos may contain essential oils, but because of the dilution of these oils with other ingredients, they are generally safer to use. Always use as directed on the label.
There are some essential oils that should never be used on your pets. The most common ones include (in alphabetical order): Anise, Bergamot, Clove, Garlic, Horseradish, Juniper, Pine, Thyme, Wintergreen, or Yarrow. Some that can be used in diluted form include: Atlas, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Ginger, Lavender, Myrrh, Rose, rosemary, and Valerian. We will periodically update these lists.
Always remember that your pets react differently to essential oils than you do, so it’s important that you talk to your veterinarian before using them around your furry family members
If you think your pet may have consumed or had contact with essential oils, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 888-426-4435 and contact your veterinarian.