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Vets Say Widely Used Essential Oils May Be Harmful To Pets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People diffuse essential oils for health reasons and to keep their homes smelling fresh, but veterinarians warn the popular oils may not be good for your pets.

All different colors, shapes, and scents -- essential oil diffusers are lining shelves in almost every home decor store. Different brands boast benefits ranging from freshening the air to relieving stress.

But the spa accessories are starting to worry some pet owners since one woman's warning on social media went viral. She says while running an oil diffuser, her dog started acting strangely and "wouldn't come out from beneath the bed."

She brought him to the hospital and says he needed fluids to clear out the toxins in his body from the oil.

"Sometimes they can tremble, be ataxic or uncoordinated when they walk," Dr. Carly Fox from the Upper East Side's Animal Medical Center told CBS2's Ali Bauman. "Things like that are potential signs of toxicity."

As oil diffusers have risen in popularity, so too have the number of poisoned pets in Dr. Fox's emergency room.

"A lot of people think 'an essential oil is good for me, so it must be good for my dog or cat,' and that's just not the case," she said.

In fact, just breathing in the oil can make animals sick. In some, especially birds, it can be fatal.

Veterinarians say not all oils are created equal. Some are stronger or more concentrated, and different ones affect animals differently. Pet owners who choose to have diffusers should do their research.

"Common ones like tea tree oils that people use for home remedies, that's very toxic to dogs and cats," Dr. Fox said.

Taylor Hayden is an essential oils vendor. She suggests keeping diffusers on a shelf where they won't accidentally be knocked over.

"Just be aware," she said. "With anything, be aware of what you're bringing into your home and what you're diffusing."

For pets and people alike, moderation is key. Vets recommend you only run diffusers for a short period of time each day.

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