Your essential oil diffuser could be toxic to your pets. Here's what you need to know

Posted at 10:05 AM, Mar 04, 2019

CLEVELAND — Essential oil diffusers are gaining popularity on the market, but an Ohio veterinarian warns that they may not be safe for your pets.

Essential oil diffusers release molecules of the essential oils into the air that you inhale and come into contact with. Researchers say essential oils can help with colds, the flu and sinus congestion.

But essential oils don't pair well with cats, according to Dr. Beth Malinich. Malinich, with the Animal Hospital of Fairview Park in Ohio , said cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver and it makes these essentials oils toxic to their health.

"They just don't mix," Malinich said. "The oils can cause some severe liver problems."

Malinich said if you have a cat and a diffuser, don't panic just yet. She said there are actually different types of diffusers on the market and you'll just want to make sure you have the right one.

Passive diffusers simply evaporate the oils and produce the natural smell.

"Those are not too bad unless your cat knocks over the diffuser and gets into the oils themselves," she said. "So if you want to have a diffuser, this is the best option for you."

It's the active diffusers you'll want to avoid, she said.

"Those kind, they actually expel micro droplets of the oil and if your kitty gets into that material that can get onto their fur. They can groom it off themselves and that's where they can get into some problems."

Symptoms to be on the lookout for if your cat gets into the oils:

  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • tremors
  • ataxia (wobbliness)
  • respiratory distress
  • low heart rate
  • low body temperature

Malinich also said birds are very sensitive to essential oils and the active diffusers. Dogs have a bit more tolerance, however she recommends sticking with passive diffusers if you have an indoor pet at home.