ESSENTIAL OILS FOR YOUR PET: A SAFETY GUIDE
ARE ESSENTIAL OILS SAFE FOR PETS?
Despite having natural plant origins, Essential Oils are not always entirely safe for use on or around pets, and each Essential Oil that is considered to be relatively “safe” should also be used with extreme care. If using Essential Oils, whether applying them topically or diffusing them throughout a room to promote sleep, immune function, relaxation, or for any other mental or physical improvement, ensure that thorough research is conducted regarding their benefits and side effects, especially when using them in pet care.
Pets, especially dogs and cats, have a heightened, more sensitive sense of smell compared to humans, thus many fragrances are potential irritants for them – similar to a person sitting next to someone whose cologne or perfume has an overpowering scent that inadvertently causes the feeling of being physically unwell – that could cause respiratory issues, skin reactions, allergies, and other consequences listed further down in this article; hence, many reports caution against using Essential Oils on pets younger than 10 weeks, while others suggest avoiding their use on all small pets, and still others suggest avoiding Essential Oils entirely for all pets, as topical products penetrate more easily through their sensitive skin as well as through their hair follicles. Furthermore, Essential Oils could potentially have harmful effects on their especially vulnerable chemosensory and nervous systems as well as on their immune, respiratory, and metabolic functions. For pet parents who would still like to use Essential Oils on pets, it is said that Hydrosols are a far superior choice in terms of safety, but these should also be avoided with particular pets, even in minute amounts.
It is of utmost importance to consult with a veterinarian before using Essential Oils on or near pets. In addition to this consultation, it is highly recommended to receive supplementary advice from a certified recognized, and reputable expert, such as an Animal Aromatherapist. In general, seek information from educated, impartial, and trustworthy sources. The combined expertise will help pet parents make well-educated decisions for the wellness of their pets as well as for the rest of the family. Essential Oils that seem not to have a harmful effect on one type of pet could have a distinctly opposite impact on the wellbeing of a different pet – so, even if your dog has a positive response to an oil, this does not mean the same oil should also be used on your cat, as cats have a greater number of stomach-related sensitivities in contrast with dogs.
It is also important to choose the safest variety of any given Essential Oil, as some varieties exhibit stronger properties that may be harmful compared to other, relatively milder varieties. This is where it would be highly beneficial to know the Latin botanical name of the markedly “safe” variety. Each Essential Oil exhibits diverse properties – even two oils from the same botanical, such as a “Leaf Oil” versus a “Bark Oil” can have vastly different effects on the pet’s body and on its senses. Not all Essential Oils will carry the same safeness as those that are widely used and believed to be safe for use on other pets or on humans, and those that are categorized as safe should still be handled with stringent safety measures.
When Essential Oils are introduced to the pet’s environment, the area in which it is used should be an open area with easy access to fresh air and from which the pet is free to leave. Essential Oils should be introduced one at a time in low doses in order to make it easy to spot the culprit in case of a potential allergic reaction. Keep a close eye on your pet when using Essential Oils on or around them, even if the Essential Oil is used on yourself, especially if you know you will be making physical contact with your pet. Any potential reactions could be experienced within the first 30 minutes of application, whether diffused or applied to the skin, or they can appear 24 hours after application. If your pet appears to be uncomfortable, anxious, or otherwise distressed or lethargic after the environment has been infused with an Essential Oil, immediately refrain from using this oil, remove the pet from this environment, take it to an area that is well-ventilated, and contact a veterinarian. Avoid topical application or diffusion of Essential Oils on or near caged pets, such as birds and rodents, as their confined spaces do not allow for an easy out if they become uncomfortable.
Always select Essential Oils that are 100% pure and, whenever possible, select ones that are Certified Organic to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals that could sometimes be used in the cultivation of the source botanical. Do not attempt to feed pets any Essential Oils or Carrier Oils.
Read on to learn more about the effects of Essential Oils on the most common house pets and to learn about their effects for various pet health problems.
THE MOST COMMON HOUSE PETS THAT MAY BE SENSITIVE TO ESSENTIAL OILS
- Dogs (especially “flat-faced” breeds, which might have respiratory difficulties)
- Guinea Pigs
- Baby animals
- Pregnant animals
- Old animals
- Sick animals
- Feeble animals
- Small breeds of animals
ESSENTIAL OILS THAT ARE COMMONLY CONSIDERED SAFE FOR PETS
The Essential Oils that are considered to be gentle or “light” and which are thus most commonly-used for pets are the oils in the following chart, due to the belief that they are more comfortably endured by vulnerable body systems:
|OIL TYPE||ESSENTIAL OIL COMMON NAME||SPECIFIC VARIETY||REPUTED BENEFITS FOR PET|
(German or Roman)
|Clary Sage||Salvia sclarea||
|Marjoram (Sweet)||Marjorana hortensis L.||
|RESIN||Frankincense Carterii||Boswellia carterii||
|WOOD||Cedarwood Virginian||Juniperus virginiana||
Despite the generalizations that are made about the relative safeness of many Essential Oils mentioned in this article, it is important to keep in mind that every animal’s biological makeup is unique and products will interact differently from species to species; accordingly, the physical response will depend on the specific pet. Pet owners who are uncertain or reluctant to use a “safe” oil on or near their pets, should disregard the safe lists and follow their own instincts.
ESSENTIAL OILS THAT ARE COMMONLY CONSIDERED UNSAFE FOR PETS
When used on or around pets, the following Essential Oils are often reputed to cause skin irritation, breathing difficulties, uncomfortable cooling effects, changes in alertness, weakness or fatigue, stumbling, vomiting, and paralysis, among various other potential effects. This list is not exhaustive:
- Anise Essential Oil
- Basil Essential Oil
- Birch Essential Oil
- Calendula Essential Oil
- Cassia Essential Oil
- Cinnamon Essential Oil
- Citronella Essential Oil
- Clove Essential Oil
- Cypress Essential Oil
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Garlic Essential Oil
- Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Juniper Essential Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Lemon Essential Oil
- Lime Essential Oil
- Myrtle Essential Oil
- Nutmeg Essential Oil
- Orange Essential Oil
- Oregano Essential Oil
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Pennyroyal Essential Oil
- Pine Essential Oil
- Rosemary Essential Oil
- Spearmint Essential Oil
- Spruce Essential Oil
- Tansy Essential Oil
- Tea Tree Essential Oil
- Thuja Essential Oil
- Thyme Essential Oil
- Wintergreen Essential Oil
- Yarrow Essential Oil
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
CARRIER OILS THAT ARE CONSIDERED SAFE FOR PETS (TOPICAL APPLICATION)
- Borage Seed Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Aloe Vera
- Sunflower Oil
- Apricot Kernel Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Kukui Nut Oil
DILUTION OF ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PETS
Before topical application to a pet’s skin, Essential Oils should always be diluted. A safe ratio is 1 drop of Essential Oil for 1.5 tablespoon (approx. 445 drops) of Carrier Oil. This equates to a dilution of approximately 0.25%, which is considered to be be mild and likely agreeable for pets.
A patch test can be done by applying a dime-size amount of the diluted Essential Oil to an insensitive part of the pet’s body, which depends on the pet. Likewise, if diffusing an Essential Oil, ensure that a test-run is conducted by diffusing 1-2 drops of an oil that is vet-approved to be pet-friendly for only 10-15 minutes.
Both types of safety tests should be performed in a large, open space or a large, airy room. During both tests, watch your pet for any irritation, discomfort, or reactions, which may take up to 24 hours to occur and could potentially appear in the form of skin irritation, pawing at the face, coughing, sneezing, drooling, difficulty walking/staggering, slowed breathing, low body temperature, weakness, slow reflexes, gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, liver damage, muscle tremors, aspiration pneumonia, and self-mutilation. In the absence of a reaction, it is said to be safe to proceed with normal application of the diluted Essential Oil.
When diluting, keep in mind that the pet’s size is a significant factor to take into consideration; a safe dilution for a large dog will not necessarily be safe for a smaller dog, and the same applies to other species. Furthermore, the amount of oil that is recommended to be given to animals that are feeble, old, pregnant, or unwell will not be same as the amount recommended for healthy animals of the same size.
USES & TIPS FOR PET-FRIENDLY ESSENTIAL OIL APPLICATION
Essential Oils should be handled in the same manner as other products that can pose potential dangers if mistreated. They should be stored in in an area that is cool, dark, and out of the reach of pets, and they should be used in accordance with their instructions and expiry dates.
|DIFFUSER||HOW TO USE||
|ROOM SPRAY||HOW TO USE||
|TOPICAL APPLICATION||HOW TO USE||
|BENEFITS||May provide extended period of comfort|
THE MOST-RECOMMENDED ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PET HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Skin Infection/Hot Spots
|Joint Discomfort||Chamomile (Roman)
Caution: NDA strongly recommends consulting with a veterinarian before considering applying any Essential Oil or Carrier Oil listed in the chart above. What is safe for one pet might not be safe for another pet; ensure that any Essential Oil or Carrier Oil used will not be unsafe for the other pets or family members.
ESSENTIAL OIL SIDE EFFECTS
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, our Essential Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a veterinarian before using these oils on or near any pets or animals. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to pets. If using Essential Oils topically on yourself, ensure that they are absorbed into your skin or washed off before you come into contact with your pet, as any oils that remain on the skin can potentially be ingested by pets through licking or through their skin/fur, etc.
For pets with the following health conditions, owners are especially recommended to be advised by a veterinarian: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders, hair disorders, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Owners with pets that have been prescribed medication or that are undergoing major surgery or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes are also advised to seek medical consultation before use.
Prior to using any Essential Oil on a pet’s body, a patch test is strongly recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 1 tablespoon of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of the pet’s skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils and Carrier Oils must never be used near a pet’s mouth, eyes, nose, ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Always ensure that hands are washed thoroughly after handling Essential Oils and Carrier Oils. Never use adult human doses for pets.
Prior to diffusing an Essential Oil near a pet, a smell test is strongly recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in a water vaporizer and diffusing the oil for a few minutes in a large, open space on the opposite end from where the pet is. Aim to use an Essential Oil for only a maximum of 2 weeks before offering a rest period during which no oils are applied topically or diffused. This may help reduce the risk of developing a sensitivity to the oil. Never use adult human doses for pets. Ensure that diffusers are kept out of the pet’s reach.
In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a veterinarian immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.