Essential oils have become commonplace in many of our lives and homes over the past several years as a natural cure-all for disease or emotional malaise. So what does this mean for our pets? Let’s take a look at essential oils and how they can be used to benefit our pets, and what to watch out for.
Keep in mind when using essential oils for your dog, their sense of smell is nearly 5,000 times stronger than ours. For this reason, make sure your oils are well diluted before using with or around your pet!
At East Bend Animal Hospital, Dr. Brooke Jacoby, our holistic/integrative veterinarian, uses a combination of techniques, including essential oils, catered to individual pet needs to promote health and wellness. If you are considering using essential oils for your pet, reach out to your veterinarian to ensure safe and responsible exposure.
Topically: Just as with humans, essential oils can pose their own health risks if used incorrectly. An essential oil should never be applied directly to the pet’s skin as it can cause severe irritation and in some cases cause illness. Use a carrier oil such as almond, avocado, or coconut oil. It is recommended to dilute carrier oil to essential oil at a ratio of 9:1 for cats and small dogs, 4:1 for medium dogs, and 3:1 for large dogs. Test the oil solution on a small area and wait for roughly 15 minutes to ensure your dog does not have an adverse reaction. Safe essential oil dilutions can be applied by hand to the head and back of your dog. This offers not only the wonderful benefit of the essential oil but also a calming connection between you and your pet.
Diffuser: When adding an essential oil to your diffuser for your pet’s benefit, use just two to three drops in the water. Ensure that there is good air flow in the room and that your pet has the ability to leave the room if they do not care for the scent or are having a reaction to it. Always watch your pet to make sure they are not having an adverse reaction, and only use the diffuser for a few minutes at a time, or while supervised.
Cardamom: relieves nausea, inappetence
Cedarwood: relieves stress, skin issues
Chamomile: relieves stress, anxiety, stomach upset
Clary Sage: relieves panic, hyperactivity
Frankincense: Immune support, digestive upset, positivity
Ginger: respiratory support, joint support, digestive upset
Helichrysum: relieves pain, aids in healing wounds
Lavender: relieves anxiety, stress, stomach upset (can be applied topically to ears)
Lemon: relieves skin infections, ear infection
Myrrh: relieves skin irritations, helps with shyness, anger
Peppermint: relieves allergies and joint pain (diffuse only, small amounts; can be toxic if ingested)
Rose: supports healing of emotional imbalance, separation anxiety
Sandalwood: relieves urinary infections, eye infections, agitation
Yarrow: relieves urinary infections, eye infections
Essential Oils to AVOID for dogs:
Cinnamon/Pine: may cause skin and stomach irritation, liver damage, central nervous system damage
Tea Tree: may cause skin irritation, vomiting, lethargy, rear end paralysis
Ylang Ylang: may cause vomiting, respiratory issues, weakness
Cats metabolize differently than humans and dogs, which makes it very important to take care and consideration when using essential oils for or around them. Because cats are prone to grooming themselves and others, it is very important to take this into consideration before applying an essential oil to them or another pet in the house.
Essential Oils for Cats:
Copaiba: heart, immune, digestive, respiratory, urinary, musculoskeletal, and emotional health
Frankincense: cellular integrity, muscles, joints
Helichrysum: antifungal, detoxifying
Lavender: relieves skin irritation/damage, fear, anxiety
Jasmine: relieves stress, depression
These oils are high in salicylates and phenols. Phenols are a compound found in all plants and which are made incredibly potent in essential oils. Cats lack the liver enzyme that allows the ability to properly digest this compound so it is absorbed through the liver which can cause liver toxicity or nervous system depression.
Essential oils should be avoided for birds, reptiles, and small mammals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, etc.
Essential oils can be a wonderful option for a natural support for your pet; their ability to help calm and heal can be very useful for an at-home remedy. The above suggested essential oils are just that and should be administered under veterinary supervision as each animal will respond differently to these potent oils. See what essential oil might be a good fit for your furry friend.
Written by: Harriet Burquist