Essential Oils and Animals
As with humans, aromatherapy is not an alternative to conventional medical care, but some believe it can be a valuable complementary therapy for animals in the healing process as well as a useful aid in dealing with emotion and behavior type problems.
Below is a quick guide for basic information regarding animals and aromatherapy. Please consult your pet’s veterinarian and a properly qualified essential oil therapist for animals for additional guidance on safe essential oils for dogs and other pets.
Birds / Ferrets / Exotic Pets
Essential oils are not recommended for or around birds, ferrets, or other exotic pets.
Generally speaking, due to a cat’s physiology and the difficulty of their liver to metabolize them, essential oils are not recommended for or around cats. Constant and continued exposure to essential oils, including diffused oils, can result in a cumulative toxic effect on a cat’s liver. It’s important to be aware of this as well if you choose to use essentials oils around the house, such as with cleaning and in a diffuser.
For dogs, essential oils and aromatherapy have been used when treating such ailments as allergies and the symptoms that go along with them (dry, itchy, flaky skin, hotspots), arthritis / muscular problems, digestive and respiratory issues, emotional (nervousness, fear, stress) and behavioral concerns, and skin infections and conditions (wounds, canine dermatitis, eczema, oily coat).
Some oils that are commonly found in grooming products for dogs, such as shampoos, coat conditioners, detanglers, and used in other dog care products such as bed sprays and fresheners, include:
Some words of caution when using essential oils on your canine friends:
- When using essential oils on your dog, it’s important to use only therapeutic grade essential oils, free from adulteration and pure.
- If your pet is seriously injured, please do not try to treat them yourself. Seek prompt and proper medical treatment from a vet.
- If your pet is under medical treatment for a particular condition, it is very important to communicate with their vet regarding any complementary healing treatments you may wish to try.
- When using essential oils topically, stick with very low dilutions (always use a carrier) and use only those oils that are considered safe for dogs. Consult a qualified aromatherapist and your vet for guidance.
- Avoid using essential oils on puppies. Ask your vet for advice.
- Be aware of phototoxicity, especially for short-haired/hairless breeds. Refer to the individual essential oil profiles for additional data and to determine if a particular essential oil is known to be associated with photosensitivity.
- Less is More! Whether using the oils in a gentle massage or applying them to the dog’s environment such as with a bed spray or in a diffuser, be conservative rather than liberal. Dogs reportedly have an olfactory sensitivity up to 100 times greater than humans and the ability to detect odorant molecules at a much lower concentration.
- Be careful not to apply the oils to the dog’s eyes, nose, or genital area.
- Do not administer essential oils orally unless under the guidance of a qualified holistic vet!
- There’s a lot of bad and questionable advice out there in regard to aromatherapy with animals…perhaps even more so than for aromatherapy with humans. Please be as cautious with Fido as you would be with Junior.
For a book on using essential oils and aromatherapy on horses, check out Complete Holistic Care and Healing for Horses – The Owner’s Veterinary Guide to Alternative Methods and Remedies by Mary L. Brennan, DVM with Norma Eckroate.
Essential oils should always be properly diluted before use. The information provided on this site is for documentation purposes only and is not guaranteed to be accurate or complete. Consult a reputable and experienced aromatherapist and your pet’s veterinarian for guidance.
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