It’s All Fun and Games…
I’m sure you’ve seen the articles, the viral post about the cat that nearly died when the owner diffused essential oils. You’ve heard the phrase “Essential oils and pets are like oil and water, they don’t mix?” Oils will kill your pets. I’ve heard it over and over and I’m here to tell you it’s simply not true.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, essential oils (EO’s) are the compounds that give plants and flowers their smell. They can come from the flower, bark, seed, roots or other parts of the plant. Essential oils can be a helpful tool for the health of your pet and here at Capitol Illini Veterinary Services in Chatham, you can always find our diffuser running. There are a few things to take into consideration when using oils with your pets.
Research, Research, Research
Except there is none. So far, we don’t have scientific studies to tell us an exact dose or even which oil to use. I’m hopeful that it’s coming, but in the meantime, we rely on veterinarians who have been on the front lines of essential oil use to guide us.
Recently there has been research into the use of oils for specific disease processes so we’re making progress.
You can pretty much walk into any store or pull up Amazon on the device of your choice and find EO’s for sale. They tend to be pretty cheap, too. But here’s the question you should ask yourself – what’s really in those oils? Can you verify they’re pure? Do you have access to testing that proves this? You should.
It’s important the oils you use with your pets – and even on yourself – should be pure therapeutic grade oils. This is why I use doTerra essential oils. Everyone has access to the testing of each batch of oil ensuring they are pure, with no synthetic additives. Knowledge is power, right?
The Dose Makes The Poison
While there are some essential oils that are toxic to dogs and cats, it depends on how much they are exposed to. Most essential oil poisonings reported to Animal Poison Control were from undiluted oils being used on pets.
Melaleuca or Tea Tree oil has really gotten a bad rap. Yes, it’s toxic to dogs and cats but did you know there are several over the counter shampoos that contain this EO? Highly diluted doses can be safe for pets but luckily there are other oils that will give you the same results.
But let’s get into the real issue at hand: how to use essential oils safely on your pets. There are three basic ways to use oils.
Diffusing is the safest way to use oils with your pets. Ultrasonic diffusers dilute oil in water and disperse a mist of water and oil into the air allowing your pet to inhale the oils. Always allow your pet a way to leave the room if they don’t like the smell. Even though the oils are safe, they can cause irritation in some pets so it’s important watch for red eyes or runny noses and discontinue if you notice this.
Diffusing is the best way to use oils with cats. Eucalyptus and Cardamom are great for upper respiratory infections or congestion in cats. Lavender or a blend that contains Lavender, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang as well as others, is a great help to my dog, Lilly, for storms or anything else that makes her anxious.
It Puts The Oil On Its Skin
(Ok, I completely dated myself with the “Silence of the Lambs” reference.)
Applying oils topically is an excellent way target specific areas of concern. The most important thing to remember is size does matter, at least when it comes to using oils with pets. Oils should be diluted before topical application. Smaller dogs need less essential oil as they are very concentrated. Dilute! Dilute! Dilute!
A blend called Digestzen which contains Anise, Peppermint and Ginger oils among others has really helped Ember’s tummy troubles. Frankincense, Helichrysm and Myrrh are great for healing skin issues and hot spots. Just ask my yellow lab, Eily! Cats should have oils applied only every third day or so and remember to dilute.
It’s safe for some essential oils to be ingested. These oils should have supplement facts listed on the bottles. Large dogs can have 2-3 drops of an oil added to food or as with my dogs, hidden in a peanut butter sandwich.
Cats are a little different, but aren’t they always? The best way to give cats an oil internally is to place a single drop on your hands and then let it evaporate. Then you just pet your cat and they’ll ingest it while grooming.
Frankincense and Copaiba worked wonders for Piper’s joint pain and I managed to get rid of the Zyrtec by switching Eily to Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint for her itching and scratching.
Essentail oils can be used safely on your pets and can be very helpful for a number of conditions. I have been using them with great results for the past two years. My dogs have even become fans. Ember loves to have Digestzen rubbed on her tummy. Then again, maybe she just likes her tummy rubbed!
Leave us a comment or question on our Facebook page regarding oils and your pets. I am always happy to consult on essential oils so feel free to schedule an appointment with us today.