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Essential Oils Can Be Harmful to Family Pets

February 9, 2018


New trends come and go every year but some have more staying power than others do. In 2017, one of those trends really caught on, becoming extremely popular with kits available in several stores. We are talking, of course, about the diffusing of essential oils. This practice combines essential oils, such as lavender or eucalyptus, with water inside of a vaporizer. The mixture is then diffused as vapor into the air. People typically do this as a way to freshen the air of a room or for potential medicinal benefits.

CASE #1 - Diffusing Oils Where Cat Sleeps

However, owners of pets are being cautioned against using the devices around their animals. Recently a woman took her 8-year-old cat to the vet after she began sneezing, coughing, and vomiting. After several rounds of tests and examinations, they were no closer to figuring out what was wrong with the beloved feline. Only later did the owner realize what was happening. She had been diffusing lavender and eucalyptus oils in the master bath where the cat often slept. She was also using lavender oil on her skin and the cat would sometimes lick her hands to get attention. After making the connection, the cat’s owner stopped using the oils and the cat began returning to normal health.

CASE #2 - Online Advice for Holistic Treatments

In another case, a couple adopted a kitten and learned he had ringworm. Since their local vet wouldn’t be able to treat the cat until after the weekend, they searched online for holistic ringworm treatments. One website mentioned that tea tree oil was great at combating the problem so they applied it to the infected areas of the skin. Later that day the cat began acting strangely and couldn’t walk straight so he was rushed to a nearby animal hospital. Upon sharing their story with the veterinary team, they were informed that tea tree oil is highly toxic to cats. The vet thoroughly washed the cat, treated it for tea-tree oil exposure as well as the initial ringworm infection. In cats, tea tree oil can cause liver and kidney damage, possibly leading to fatal organ failure.

Contact the ASCPA Pet Poison Hotline

Before bringing any new products into your home, check all warning labels. Moreover, instead of relying upon online treatment advice, consult with your veterinarian to avoid accidental exposure or poisoning. If you think your pet may have been exposed to any poison, contact the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline at (888) 426-4435 for 24 Hour Diagnostic and Treatment.

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