Pet Health Articles

Are Essential Oils and Scented Candles Safe for Pets?

Need a vet? Call one today.

Your pets deserve the best healthcare. A sick or injured pet is scary, but finding a local veterinarian shouldn't be.

Call (877)543-0345

Veterinarians Near Ashburn, Virginia, 20146

Animal Medical Centers of Loudoun: Ashburn Farm

Animal Medical Centers of Loudoun: Ashburn Farm

43330 Junction Plaza Blvd #172, Ashburn, VA 22066

VCA Herndon-Reston Animal Hospital

VCA Herndon-Reston Animal Hospital

500 Elden Street, Herndon, VA 20147

Animal Medical Centers of Loudoun: Brambleton

Animal Medical Centers of Loudoun: Brambleton

42385 Ryan Rd #112, Ashburn, VA 20147

Essential oils and scented candles can be a relaxing addition to your home, but if you have pets, it’s important to exercise caution. These items can be dangerous for our furry friends!

Some scent-implicit products can be toxic to dogs, cats and birds. Cats have sensitive respiratory systems, and birds are especially vulnerable to some candle fumes and scents. If during use, or at any other time, your pet appears to be sick or might have ingested toxins, you should visit an emergency veterinary clinic or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 888-426-4435. And visit your local veterinarian

Essential Oils

Essential oils have hit a popularity spike in recent years. There are several variables involved with using them. These include:

  1. Concentration (amount of dilution)
  2. Type of oil
  3. Quality of oil
  4. Room ventilation

If your pet swallows the oil or licks it off their fur, it can cause neurological problems or gastrointestinal upset. Oils can also cause reactions in the skin or respiratory issues.

Here is a list of oils that can be toxic for pets:

  • Basil
  • Bitter Almond
  • Clove Leaf
  • Hyssop
  • Oregano
  • Pine Oil
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

It’s best to stay away from these in the home. However, there are oils that are safe to use around pets when diluted properly:

  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Cedarwood
  • Marjoram
  • Myrrh
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Clary sage

A rule of thumb when using oils around pets is to take some safety precautions. For instance, never store oils in a place where pets can get to them. Keep them stashed in a high cupboard or carefully locked away in a sealed tub.

Before using oils, test a small amount first. Place the oil in the diffuser and run it for 15 minutes. Keep the door open, so the pet can leave the room if needed. Never use them topically on your pets.

If you decide to use essential oils, be sure they are diluted heavily to reduce the volatility. For more information about essential oils and safety in using them, check with your veterinarian.

Scented Candles

Some candles contain paraffin, a petroleum-based wax. Burning paraffin can release carcinogens, agitating respiratory and heart problems.

Scented candles are loaded with chemicals, according to the American Chemical Society. They can contain from 800 to 1,500 chemicals, each with unique profiles and characteristics, depending on the scent.

While candle manufacturers protest otherwise, there are indications that artificial fragrances, as well as paraffin-based candles, can cause illness in pets and people.

Candles manufactured in the USA are required by law to have a wick made from cotton or paper. But about one out of three imported candles have wire wicks, composed of lead. When burned, these candles exceed the EPA standards for outdoor air. Lead poisoning has been linked to learning disabilities, hormone imbalance, and other health issues, and of course is dangerous for pets. In 2003, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the manufacture and sale of candles with lead-cored wicks.

When not infused with artificial fragrances, some safer varieties of non-GMO candles include:

  • Soy
  • Blue corn
  • Beeswax

For a more comprehensive list of chemicals that are toxic and nontoxic to pets, check out the ASPCA Poison Control site. Do you use essential oils or candles in your home? How do you keep them away from your pets? 

If you think your pet may be experiencing symptoms, visit to find a vet near you.