Karen Fratti
May 23, 2018 11:40 am
Jim Craigmyle/Getty Images

Essential oils are the perfect way to make your house smell great while you indulge in a little aromatherapy. But after reading viral stories about pets getting sick from oil diffusers, it’s worth wondering about whether or not you should keep this item in your home. Our dogs and cats have different sensitivities to smells than we do, so what’s relaxing to you might be making your pet (especially your cat) really sick.

Dr. Carly Fox, a doctor at N.Y.C.’s Animal Medical Center, told Bustle that just because essential oil aromatherapy has some proven health benefits for humans, doesn’t mean it’s good for your furry friend. Fox said:

If you’ve already been using your oil diffuser around your pet and their behavior hasn’t changed, it might not be affecting them. But do take note that any differences or recent ailments your pet has might have something to do with your diffuser.

The Pet Poison Helpline explains that some symptoms to check for are more drooling than usual, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Your cat or dog doesn’t have to ingest the oil and they don’t even have to be close to the diffuser to feel the negative side effects.

The Pet Poison Helpline notes that the “inhalation of strong odors or fragrances can cause some cats to develop a watery nose or eyes, a burning sensation in the nose/throat, nausea leading to drooling and/or vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Difficulty breathing in a cat is evidenced by labored breathing, fast breathing, panting, coughing, or wheezing. NONE of these signs are normal in cats.”

What sounds like a cough from a hairball might actually be your cat coughing due to difficulty breathing, so take your furry friend to the vet if it’s been happening more than usual — and especially if you’ve been using essential oils.

Dogs metabolize differently than cats do, so they might not feel any negative effects right away, but those little guys are much more likely to get into the essential oils and ingest them — which could be a disaster, causing liver failure and other fatal diseases. The most dangerous oils to dogs, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, are melaleuca or tea tree oil, pennyroyal, oil of wintergreen, and pine oils.

If you have a cat, you might want to skip the oil diffusers and essential oils altogether. With dogs, just make sure you’re reading the oil labels and keeping them away from your pup. It might be a bummer to not use your oil diffuser, but surely the unconditional love you and your pet have for each other is worth it.