A popular holiday gift could make your pets sick

 A popular holiday gift could potentially make your pets sick and even cause death. 

Essential oil diffusers are inexpensive, small, cool-mist humidifiers.

But when they are used with droplets of essential oils, they can harm dogs and cats, according to a local veterinarian.

Gina Lombardo of Miamisburg knows the dangers of essential oils first hand. 

After reading online that tea tree oil is a good flea deterrent, she placed the oil directly onto her dog, Sammie, and he started to have a reaction.

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“It took me by surprise and it was a full panic attack,” said Lombardo. ”Little did we know it was going to be harming him. It was incredibly terrifying.” 

Emergency veterinarian Dr. Daniel Carey with Emergency Care Center in Centerville treated Sammie.

“The dog developed tremors for about three days,” said Dr. Carey. “These can be really highly toxic chemicals.”

When using essential oils in a diffuser, they can be especially harmful to cats. 

“It’s aerosolizing these oils. So little droplets of it are going through the air. The can be inhaled and can land in the cats’ fur and cats are constantly grooming themselves, so cats get a double whammy,” said Dr. Carey. 

If you choose to use an essential oil diffuser, keep it in a pet-free room of your home, he said. If you have birds don’t use oils at all, and be wary of information you read online. 

“The health benefits to pets really have not been well established and before you make something worse -- check with your family vet,” Dr. Carey said. 

If your pet has breathing trouble, skin rashes, or seems off-balance, you should see a vet right away, the doctor said. 

Lombardo said Sammie doesn’t appear to have any lasting effects from the oil.

She has an essential oil diffuser but she keeps Sammie away from it. 

“You’d think these companies would put warnings on these oils and diffusers, but people have to do their research and talk to a professional,” she said. 

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