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Essential oils dangers for pets

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 19:39:53-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last month, we told you how the number of accidental essential oils poison calls have gone up--particularly among young children--but experts say it’s not just people who are at risk.

Essential oils pose health risks to our furry friends. Veterinarian Dr. Christopher Byers says the higher the concentration of the essential oil, the more severe the risk.

“Those clinical signs can include drooling, vomiting, ataxia--which is wobbliness while you walk,” said Dr. Byers. “We can also see other more severe neurological signs like seizures. We can also see liver failure with certain essential oil intoxication.”

Dr. Byers says the most common call he gets has to do with diffusers... both active and passive.

He says the problem with active diffusers is that it sprays out a fine mist that can get into an animal's fur or even its lungs.

While a passive diffuser like a reed diffuser doesn't produce a mist, Dr. Byers says it can get knocked over and a pet can drink it.

While essential oils can be dangerous for dogs, cats are the ones most at risk.

“It has to do with their lack of specific liver enzyme system,” said Dr. Byers. “The liver enzyme system doesn't work as efficiently as it does in you and me or as in dogs, so they have a very hard time metabolizing essential oils and getting rid of them out of the body.”

When something smells this good, Dr. Byers says the benefits of essential oils don’t outweigh the risk when we’re talking about cats.

Curiosity can kill.

“If essential oil intoxication is not identified efficiently and if a pet doesn't receive timely care, they can die from essential oil intoxication,” said Dr. Byers.

The most dangerous oils for pets according to Dr. Byers are wintergreen, peppermint, tea tree and pine oils.