Oil Diffusers and Dogs: A Compatible Relationship?

You’ve brought home an essential oil diffuser and you’re looking forward to getting it set up! Your home will smell amazing, and you can benefit from the aromatherapy essential oils can provide. But you may be wondering if oil diffusers and dogs can live in the same home together.

Essential oils can be dangerous for dogs if they’re used improperly, so you have to be careful with them. Read on to learn more about how to enjoy your new oil diffuser and keep your pooch safe at the same time. 

What Are Essential Oils?

Before we dive into whether or not essential oils are safe for canines, let’s talk a little about what essential oils are. The word “essential” refers to the fact that these oils are the distilled essence of whatever they’re drawn from. They aren’t essential for health for you or your dog.

Essential oils can be distilled or pressed out of a plant in a variety of ways. The resulting oil is highly concentrated, aromatic, and potent. Once they are concentrated in this way, essential oils will need to be diluted in some way before they’re safe for use on either humans or animals.

Potential Benefits of Essential Oils

People believe essential oils may have a number of benefits that can vary based on the oil you’re using. One of the biggest benefits essential oils can provide is aromatherapy. Peppermint oil may give you a little boost of energy in the middle of the day, or lavender oil may calm you down when you’re stressed.

Some people believe tea tree oil can help to boost your immune system and fight infections. Jasmine oil is said to help with depression and low libido, and lemon and peppermint oil may help aid digestion. And some people say that bergamot oil can improve skin conditions like eczema.

Using Undiluted Essential Oils on Dogs

No matter what sort of essential oil you plan to use, you should never use undiluted essential oils on either yourself or your dog. Essential oils are extremely potent on their own, and they can cause chemical burns. In your dogs, undiluted essential oils can be very dangerous or even toxic.

You should never use essential oils, even if they’re diluted in a carrier oil, directly on your dog. Diluting these oils helps, but they can still be far too potent to use safely. And if you use low-quality essential oils, they may contain other compounds that could be dangerous for your dog.

Smell Troubles

One of the big problems with using essential oils on dogs stems from their potent aroma. Dogs’ noses have about fifty times as many olfactory receptors as our nostrils do, and their brains devote about forty times as much space to their sense of smell as ours do. Whereas most of us process the world primarily through sight, dogs experience the world through smell.

When you put essential oils on a dog, you totally throw off their sense of how they experience the world. Your dog may become stressed out trying to navigate without their usual primary sense. It would be somewhat akin to someone throwing a heavy piece of fabric over your face and asking you to go about your day as normal while trying to see through that fabric.

Symptoms of Essential Oil Poisoning

In addition to causing your dog discomfort, essential oils can poison your pooch. Of course, these oils are most dangerous in their pure form, but even diluted oils can cause problems. You might see these symptoms if you put essential oils on your dog, or if they walked through or ingested them.

Dogs with essential oil poisoning may start to seem unsteady on their feet, or you may notice them not using their rear legs. They may begin to vomit, tremble, or even have seizures, or they may seem to be more lethargic than usual. In extreme cases, dogs may begin to drop their body temperature as the oils take hold.

dog in a bright room

More Dangerous Essential Oils 

Of course, not all essential oils pose the same level of danger for dogs. Some oils are more dangerous for dogs than others. If you plan to use an essential oil diffuser in your home, you may want to avoid these oils.

Tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, and citrus oil can all cause vomiting, skin irritation, and more in dogs. Pennyroyal and wintergreen can both cause liver failure, and ylang-ylang oil can make it hard for dogs to breathe. Pine and sweet birch are also extremely dangerous, causing everything from nervous system damage to seizures and death. 

Oils That Are Safe for Dogs

Luckily, there are some oils that are relatively safe to use around dogs. Once again, you should never use these or any other essential oils directly on their coats, paws, or noses. But these oils are okay to put in an oil diffuser when you have a dog in the house.

Lavender oil can have a calming effect on dogs as well as humans, and copaiba oil can help to support their immune and nervous systems. Frankincense may help to boost your dog’s immune system and improve their digestion. Peppermint oil may make it easier for dogs to breathe, and petitgrain oil may help to calm nervous dogs.

What Are Essential Oil Diffusers?

We mentioned earlier that essential oil diffusers may be a safe way to use essential oils around your dogs. An oil diffuser breaks up your essential oils into smaller particles and diffuses them in a gentle, safe mist. There are a few different types of oil diffusers that we’ll talk about in a moment. 

In general, it’s much safer to use essential oils in a diffuser rather than applying it to either your skin or your dog’s coat. You can breathe in the aroma of the oils and gain some of the aromatherapy benefits that way. But remember when you’re using a diffuser, your dog’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than yours is.

Different Types of Oil Diffusers

There are a few different types of essential oil diffusers, ranging from simple reed diffusers to ultrasonic mist diffusers. The simplest models, reed diffusers, use reeds set in a vase of essential oil to draw the oil. The oil evaporates out the top of the reeds, dispersing their scent into the room around them.

Some of the more complex essential oil diffusers dilute a few drops of oil in water, which is then boiled to form scented steam. But the best diffusers use ultrasonic vibrations to break up oil and water particles to form a cool mist. This mist then rises out into the room, carrying the aroma and benefits of the essential oil. 

Danger of Burns

If you plan to use an essential oil diffuser that creates a warm mist, you’ll need to take some extra precautions with your dog. These diffusers pose a danger of burns to your furry friend. They may be drawn over by the interesting new smell and then burn their nose on the steam when they go to smell it.

You also need to make sure you set your oil diffuser out of your pet’s reach (including the cord) if you plan to use a hot diffuser. The last thing you want is for your dog to pull the diffuser down on top of themselves and be dealing with burns and skin irritation. If your dog does burn themselves, take them to a vet immediately.

Benefits of Cool Mist Diffusers 

As the name might suggest, cool mist diffusers use non-heat-based methods of dispersing essential oil into your room. In addition to the ultrasonic diffusers we discussed, you can also find cool mist diffusers that use a fan to break essential oil and water into a fine mist. They then fling this mist into the room around your humidifier. 

From a pet perspective, cool mist diffuser poses no threat of burns. You’ll still want to position the diffuser on a high shelf to avoid your dog pulling it down on top of themselves. Even cool essential oil can cause serious problems if it makes contact with your dog’s coat.

Using Your Oil Diffuser Safely

If your dog has any sort of breathing issues, including asthma, you may not want to use an oil diffuser around them at all. Some of the brachycephalic breeds of dogs, including pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers, may be more prone to these breathing difficulties. Even slight scent disturbances could make it difficult for a dog with existing breathing problems to get enough oxygen.

No matter what sort of diffuser you’re using, make sure you place your diffuser out of their reach. If possible, place it in a closed room that your dog can’t access, especially if you plan to use tea tree oil or any of the more dangerous oils. And always be careful to measure how much oil you use so you don’t overwhelm your dog’s sense of smell.

How to Clean a Diffuser

Another part of using your diffuser safely is cleaning it regularly. Diffusers that don’t get cleaned can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and bacteria. If you’re then blasting this out into the room, it can cause health trouble for both you and your fur baby. 

Each time you finish using your diffuser, empty it out and wipe it out with a clean rag. Once a week or so, take the basin out of your diffuser and give it a gentle rinse with some dish soap and water. Make sure you rinse it out thoroughly and completely dry it before you reassemble your diffuser.

Storing Essential Oils Safely

Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and since they experience the world through their noses, they may be attracted to essential oils. If you don’t have your oils stored in a safe place, they may knock the bottles over and lap up the contents. Not only will you lose several ounces of expensive oil, but your dog could also be at serious risk.

Make sure you store your essential oils well out of your dog’s reach with the caps tightly sealed. You may also want to put them in a container that you can latch shut. Never leave bottles of essential oil open or unattended on low surfaces where your dog can get to them.

Talk to Your Vet 

If you’re still uncertain about using essential oils around your dog, talk to your vet. They know your pet’s health better than anyone except for you, and they can tell you whether your dog’s respiratory system is up to it. They can also monitor your dog on future visits to make sure they aren’t showing any symptoms of essential oil poisoning.

If your dog has issues you’re concerned about, your vet may be able to recommend which oils will and won’t help them. If you find that essential oils don’t make a difference for them, they can also provide you with alternative treatment options for those concerns. Either way, having your vet involved in every aspect of your dog’s wellness is a smart move. 

veterinarian examining the dog

Learn to Manage Oil Diffusers and Dogs 

Having an essential oil diffuser around can be wonderful – they smell nice and can have some excellent aromatherapy benefits. But oil diffusers and dogs don’t always mix well, so you need to use some care. Try to avoid the oils that are more dangerous for them, and always keep your oil diffuser well out of their reach.

If you’d like to find more tools to make your home as comfortable as possible, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have humidifiers and diffusers, as well as pillows and cushions to keep you floating on the clouds. Shop our collection today and start living life in the comfort you deserve.

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