Pet Safe Essential Oils with Dr. Janet Roark

podcast dr janet roark essential oil vet

Recently I did a podcast with Dr. Janet Roark, also known as the Essential Oils Vet. Dr. Roark is a veterinarian who has been practicing for over 16 years, and who began using essential oils in her practice after seeing for herself the difference they made for her own health. She has dedicated herself to educating others about the safe and effective use of pet safe essential oils, as well as the people who own and love them. Her website,, is filled with incredible resources, from essential oil safety and dilution guides, to recipes, consultations and more!

“I think we never really know everything and being open minded about new ways of approaching health, for our animals in particular, is really important because we don’t know everything and sometimes we stumble upon solutions like I did with essential oils, and then it becomes part of what we do and who we are and really I would not want to practice any other way.” – Dr. Janet Roark

Listen in to the whole episode:

Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?

There is a lot of controversy and misinformation online about the dangers of essential oils when it comes to our pets. While yes, there are some essential oils that are somewhat harmful for small animals, most of the stories you hear about a dog having a negative reaction are actually due to synthetic oils and adulterated oils.

If you’re searching for pet safe essential oils, make sure to use only therapeutic or medical grade essential oils. This means not purchasing oils from amazon, your local supermarket, or any company who does not provide test results. A reputable supplier will have a certificate of analysis for their essential oils, specifically a GCMS test.

One important thing to keep in mind about essential oils is that they are extremely potent. An essential oil is about 50-70 times more potent than an herb. This means it has the potential to be dangerous, especially for small animals. 

Essential oils need to be properly diluted, whether they are being diffused or applied topically. Pets have millions more olfactory receptors than humans do, which does make them sensitive to strong smells, so proper dilution is important. Also, remember that for dogs and cats and small animals, the smaller they are, the more you want to dilute it. 

The most common adverse reaction, when using essential oils for your pet, is skin irritation. However most of these reactions resolve themselves, with dilution and fresh air, within 24-48 hours. In any case, caution should always be used around animals that are pregnant, nursing, young, or on certain medications. 

Dr. Roark advises to stick to just 3-4 drops in your diffuser and use a water based diffuser on an intermittent setting. Additionally, always leave the door open to the room with the diffuser, so that pets can leave freely. 

What Essential Oils are Safe for Dogs?

Most essential oils are safe for dogs, as long as you’re using only therapeutic or medical grade essential oils with a GCMS test, are properly diluting the oil, and are following the recommended therapeutic applications. 

Some essential oils to use extra caution with, or keep away from your dog, are tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, wintergreen oil, and birch oil. These are very potent when ingested, and dogs can’t metabolize them as well or as quickly as humans can. Also use caution with “hot oils”, which includes cinnamon, clove and oregano oils. 

Related: Essential Oils for Dogs 101

What Essential Oils are Safe for Cats?

Despite much misinformation surrounding the toxicity of essential oils in cats, many essential oils are actually safe for cats as well. Once again, as long as you make sure to use only therapeutic or medical grade essential oils with a GCMS test, properly dilute the oil, and follow the recommended therapeutic applications.

Some common myths surrounding cats and essential oils are that lavender, citrus and pine oils are toxic to cats. These myths mostly originated from the use of synthetic oils and compounds, developed in labs, rather than natural therapeutic and medical grade essential oils. 

Cats do lack a liver enzyme that is important for metabolizing certain compounds. This makes them more susceptible to toxicity of all kinds. However, if you use the proper precautions, most essential oils are perfectly safe to use with cats.

Some essential oils to use extra caution with, or keep away from your cats, include eucalyptus oil, which can be toxic to cats when ingested, and spearmint and peppermint oil, which can cause some respiratory issues in some cats. Also avoid tea tree oil aka melaleuca, wintergreen and birch oils, as with dogs. Additionally, use extra caution with “hot oils”, which includes cinnamon, clove and oregano oils. 

Pet Safe Essential Oils

Here are just a few great essential oils for dogs and cats, regularly used by Dr. Janet Roark on her own pets, as well as in her veterinary practice. 

Cedarwood oil is very grounding, as many tree oils are, and is very helpful with calming stress and anxiety. It’s also helpful in animals to repel insects and pests. Cedarwood oil can be diffused or applied topically for dogs, for cats diffusion is preferred. Cedarwood oil is not to be used internally.

Copaiba oil can help soothe anxious feelings and also supports the cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, immune, and respiratory systems. Copaiba oil can be diffused, applied topically, or given internally, though for cats diffusion is preferred. 

Frankincense has been widely used with animals and has a very wide margin of safety, even in newborns and birthing animals. It is useful in countless conditions including arthritis, seizures, cancer, tumors, cysts, depression, behavioral issues, immune stimulation, autoimmune disease, and more. Frankincense can be applied topically, diffused, and or given internally.

Lavender has been used for centuries for its beautiful aroma as well as it’s calming and relaxing properties. Lavender has benefits as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antitumoral, and a sedative. It’s been studied extensively in animals and it is safe to use on all species. Lavender can be applied topically, given internally, or diffused.

Roman Chamomile is popular for its soothing properties. It helps to calm nerves, manage pain and restore emotional balance. Roman Chamomile can be diffused, or applied topically. 

Turmeric is most known for its nervous system and anti-inflammatory benefits, and also promotes healthy immune function. Turmeric oil is beneficial internally, topically and aromatically. 

These are just a few examples of beneficial pet safe essential oils. For more essential oils, recipes, safety tips and dilution guides for your pet, visit



About Dr. Janet Roark

dr janet roark pet safe essential oils

Dr. Janet Roark is a veterinarian and the proud owner of Hill Country Mobile Veterinary Service in Austin, Texas. She graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. She started using essential oils for her own health. After battling physical as well as emotional struggles related to stress. Essential oils have quite literally changed her life forever. Dr. Roark began using essential oils in her practice about 6 months after incorporating them into her daily life. Doing research and reading every available book and article she could find on the subject. Her first case was nothing short of miraculous and she has never looked back since. She has dedicated herself to educating others about the safe and effective use of essential oils. Both for animals and the people who own and love them!