Observations from Angela Lennox, DVM:

Should I consider essential oils for my exotic pets?

Essential oils are marketed for both humans and pets, in particular dogs and cats. In particular, some products are touted as natural alternatives to synthetic tick and flea medications. There are actually some scientific studies on the use of these products in pets, and some new studies coming out on the use of essential oils for mites in chickens. In some cases, carefully dosing of particular essential oils appeared to kill some parasites but these were tested on mites in a laboratory, and not actually applied to the hens. For now, a proven safe, effective dose is unknown, despite internet recommendations based on trial and error.

On the other hand, emergency veterinarians are seeing increasing numbers of pets injured or even killed by essential oils. (See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22805458)

In this report, 3 of 44 animals died; side effects included mostly hypersalivation and agitation in cats and lethargy and vomiting in dogs.

This is despite the fact that oils are “natural” products. Even natural products can be toxic, especially at higher dosages.

If essential oils interest you, research as carefully as possible, and ask advice from a veterinarian with experience in their use. If there is no scientific evidence on safety and efficacy, we really can’t recommend their use.

We are keeping a close watch on the latest research, and will share what we learn!