Is it safe to use essential oils with our furry friends ? 

As pet owners, it’s only natural to question how our home comforts may affect them.

 

We know dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate or grapes, and cats should avoid high quantities of tuna, but what about essential oils – are they safe to use around our beloved companions? 

 

Well, in a word: yes! 👍

 

From busting anxiety to repelling critters, aromatherapy can play a supporting role in caring for the entire family – pets and all.

 

 

 Pets' physiology

We know ‘good’ smells soothe and comfort us, while ‘bad’ smells revolt and disgust us. Doesn’t the scent of freshly brewed coffee fill you with warmth? Pets have millions more olfactory receptors than humans, and they draw on their immense sense of smell to better understand their environment and gauge what state of response they should assume.

For them, the sense of smell is even more important than for us.

Let’s remember that each essential oil is made up of hundreds of powerful components which give the oil its color, consistency, aroma and therapeutic properties, so even small amounts can have far-reaching biological effects on the body. 

Bearing in mind pets have this heightened sense of smell and the powerful effect of the essential oil compounds, we use little amounts of essential oils with them and of course heavily diluted.

 

How to use Essential oils around your pawed friends:

 

We can diffuse and apply topically following some safety guidelines.

 

.👉Diffusing: 

We can safely diffuse essential oils at home, using water based ultrasonic diffusers, making sure they can leave the room if they do not like the aroma. The key word here is leave a door / window open for them to choose to stay or leave. This is the main reason we should never diffuse around caged birds. 

 

If you do not have a diffuser, you can use room sprays or put a drop of oil on our hands and allow them to inhale from your hands.

 

Diffusing is a safe way to allow the molecules spread into the air and enter their limbic system providing respiratory support, calming emotions, soothing muscles and easing digestion.  

 

For example, diffusing Lavender is excellent especially in stressful situations like thunderstorms or fireworks, before a visit to the Vet, it triggers a calming sensation in the brain, so it can be a useful way to comfort tentative pets.

 

Keep the diffuser out of reach so they cannot knock it over.

 

👉Apply Topically: 

Because of their purity, we can use them topically, however they should be heavily diluted (like young children). 

 

1 DROP of Essential Oil => in 1 TEASPOON (5ml) of carrier oil for pets up to 10KG

 

2 DROPS of Essential Oil => in 1 TEASPOON of carrier oil for pets >10KG

 

As with new things, start slowly and using small amounts heavily diluted so you can observe your pet’s behaviour.

 

My dog, Keilly, was mildly hit by a car many years ago, so she tends to come back limping after a long walk when it’s damp or cold. A quick massage before heading out with coconut oil plus 2 drops of Marjoram in the front legs does the trick. Being Marjoram a warm oil, improves local circulation and prevents cramps and sore joints.

 

Lavender essential oil is great for times when you need to help your pet calm down. Apply a drop on the paw before heading to the groomer.

 

If you don’t have a car diffuser, you can apply a drop of Lavender in your hands, rub them and place them onto the car air outlet, soon the whole car bears the Lavender aroma. I use this trick on our way to the vets.  

 

Petting is an excellent way to apply oils topically to pets:  along their spine or on the ears tip, between paw pads. A spray works well too. Let them sniff first to check their reaction before applying.  Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before petting them again, as the essential oils can easily get into their eyes and mouth.  

 

 

👉Essential Oils to “Avoid with Dogs”:  

Birch

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) replace with Geranium

Wintergreen 

Oregano

Cassia 

Cinnamon

Clove

Rosemary 

Thyme 

 

👉Essential Oils to “Avoid with Cats”: 

 

CATS: lack a liver enzyme that it’s important for metabolising plant-based food. That is why cats are not vegetarian! …, therefore, essential oils being plant-based, should be used with caution. 

 Basil 

Citrus oils 

Birch

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) replace with Geranium

Wintergreen 

Cinnamon 

Clove 

Fennel 

Oregano 

Peppermint 

Thyme 

Rosemary 

Spearmint 

Ylang Ylang

 

DO NOT USE OILS ON PUPPIES AND KITTENS UNDER 3 MONTHS OF AGE.

Avoid eyes, ears, nose, mouth and genitals. 

 

If your furry friend has been exposed to toxic essential oils, they may display signs of poisoning. Symptoms include lack of appetite, difficulty breathing, depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, twitching and seizures. If you suspect this, consult your vet immediately.

 

Here are some ideas for day-to-day topical recipes for pets under 10kgs. Just duplicate drops for pets over 10kgs.  

 

👉Anxious spray for cats:

In a 60ml Spray bottle: 

5 drops of Lavender

3 drops of Cedarwood

2 drops Vetiver

2 drops Frankincense

Top off with distilled water 

Shake well before use 

15 mins before high anxiety or stressful event, apply spray to bedding and topically along the spine. 

 

👉Tick season repellent: 

In a 60ml Spray bottle: 

6 drops of Lemongrass

6 drops of Eucalyptus

Top off with distilled water 

Shake well, spray on dog’s legs, your shoes, socks and trousers cuffs. 

 

👉Itchy skin: 

4 drops of lavender

4 drops of Roman chamomile

4 drops Geranium

4 drops Myrrh

 Top off with the distilled water, shake before each use, spray directly to the irritated, rash or itchy skin to soothe.

 

For pets with arthritis, sore muscles or joints, because they’re old or they had an accident or a physical predisposition: 

👉Arthritis, sore muscles & joints: 

In a 60ml Spray bottle: 

2 drops of Marjoram 

2 drops of Helichrysum

2 drops Myrrh

2 drops Frankincense

2 drops Peppermint (omit for cats)

2 drops Cypress

Top off with distilled water 

Shake well before use 

Spray the affected area and massage in gently.

Or grab a teaspoon of olive / carrier oil and 1 drop of one of these oils and massage the area.

👉Allergy season:

A nice blend for the diffuser during allergy seasons, which is calming & uplifting, good for all family members is Lavender & Frankincense. You can add Peppermint and Lemon if you own a dog (omit for cats).

 

👉Hydrolats, the only way essential oils can be taken internally: 

Hydrolats are the water resulting from essential oil distillation, so it contains only traces of essential oils, allowing the internal use.

 

Digestion and bad breath (Dogs): Hydrolats of Peppermint spray into the water bowl:  useful for breath that stinks and support digestion.

👉Key points to remember:

  • Essential oils are highly potent stuff, follow the dilution guidelines. 
  • Try to buy high quality essential oils from trusted sources. Cheap, low-quality products may contain adulterants and contaminants that can trigger nasty reactions in your furry friends.
  • Animals are curious creatures and they love exploring. Always store your essential oils far, far, away from your pets, same applies for the diffuser.
  • Don’t diffuse around caged birds. Don’t apply oils to a pet’s muzzle area, inside ears, nostrils, mouth or eyes. Avoid puppies and kittens under 3 months of age.

 

Because Pets are such an important part of the family, why not help them in a natural way as we do with our kids? 😊

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