Many people have turned to essential oils as a natural way to treat everything from anxiety to inflammation....even fighting colds and infections.

But if you have pets in your house, these oils could cause serious complications -- even death.

You may have seen news reports of kids becoming sick after ingesting essential oils. But veterinarians say they're seeing more cases of pet poisonings from them -- everything from drooling and vomiting to liver damage. What's even scarier for pet parents is that it can happen just by breathing them in.

Pet parent Ashley Turner could have lost both of her cats. Two-year-old Orsan and 3-year-old Logan are her children. Both rescues, she puts them on a pedestal. So imagine her horror when she came home to this: "There were nine different places that Logan had gotten sick. He was vomiting, he would not drink anything. He wasn't going to the bathroom," she explained.

More than $400 later, a bill which would have been double if her husband wasn't a vet tech, they never found out what was wrong.

"At the time, they just gave him fluids. There was actually his liver enzymes that were elevated," she said.

It wasn't until her sister sent articles about the dangers of exposing pets to essential oils that she made the connection.

"My husband got me an entire kit for Christmas, so it had 18 different oils in it and I was using it for a head cold," she said.

But we wanted to verify: Are essential oils truly toxic for pets?

To find out, we spoke with Veterinarian Bob Litkovitz of the Tremont Animal Clinic.

We also spoke with VCA Animal Hospitals, which operates more than 750 locations in North America.

Both Dr. Litkovitz and the VCA told us the uptick in cases is not only from pets licking it off their parent's skin, but because of the new diffusers people are using.

"These new aerosolizers put out particles rather than just aroma, so it gets to a lot of cats first. Then they groom themselves and it can become toxic," Litkovitz explained.

Sometimes, just inhaling the particles can make them sick. And while they can harm dogs as well, cats are the most vulnerable.

"It can absorb through the skin fairly quickly, and orally, and they lack an essential enzyme in their liver to metabolize what's in the essential oil," Litkovitz said.

Litkovitz also said there are some oils that are safe to use in small doses and well-ventilated spaces. But as soon as Ashley ditched the oils, she got her baby back. Now, she's not taking any chances.

"He was hopping around the house like a bunny and he just acted like a really young, happy cat again," she said.

If your pet suddenly gets sick or starts acting out of character, call your vet immediately.

Learn more on caring for your pet from the Pet Poison Helpline, and learn about essential oils safe for cats here.

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