If you love essential oils and you have pets, you might be wondering, “Can I use my essential oils safely around or with my pets?” That is an appropriate and very important question. There is a lot to know about proper use aromatically and topically with animals. The good news is, there is a safe way, so let’s discuss details.
The Type of Pet Matters
When it comes to safe usage of aromatherapy with animals, it really depends on what kind of pet you have. All animals are different and have unique body systems. In addition, the size of the animal can make it more vulnerable to issues that may arise. The stature of the animal is directly connected to their metabolic rate and because of this, it is impossible to differentiate between how each type of pet would process the essential oil. For example, a mouse or rabbit is much smaller than a dog, and one drop of oil is a lot more comparatively to that small animal vs. the larger dog.
With all of this being said, it is just too complicated and risky, and we suggest not using essential oils around your small animals. This includes birds, who have shown extreme sensitivities to these oils and reptiles who tend to absorb chemicals into their skin. If you choose to diffuse essential oils in your home, please do so in a separate room from where that rodent, bird or reptile resides.
Our feline friends are very delicate creatures that are unlike any other animal. Their bodies process chemicals differently and they lack an important liver enzyme that breaks down these substances. This essentially means that they do not have the ability to detoxify the same way as your dog. Basically, this leads to a buildup of toxins over time. Because this could happen slowly, you may not notice that your cat is beginning to store away those chemicals in their body, and then suddenly, from one short diffusion, your cat is sick.
It is important to note that different methods of use are better than others. We do not recommend using essential oils topically with your cat at all. Cats have a very thin and fragile skin that quickly absorbs the oils that can potentially be toxic to them. If you diffuse in your home, the safest way to do so is to do it in a separate room from where your cat is. If they happen to be in the same room, make sure it is a large open space that is well ventilated and where they have the ability to leave when desired.
The safest way to use essential oils around your cat is to use them personally. This could include using a roll on, or even better, a nasal inhaler. This keeps the oils away from your cat, but still allows you to enjoy them. When applying topically, try to avoid contact with your feline for at least an hour.
Cats are most sensitive to these essential oils constituents: phenols, ketones, pinene, and limonene. These are present in oils such as:
Citrus Oils, Pine/Coniferous Oils, Wintergreen, Peppermint & Spearmint, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Rosemary and Tea Tree.
Always keep an eye on your cat and look for signs of toxicity which may include: drooling, trembling, vomiting, laboured breathing, lethargy, and worse – liver failure.
Man’s best friend is a little more accepting of essential oils. Of course, you must keep in mind that dogs have a very keen sense of smell, meaning that a little goes a long way. One drop of oil might not smell strong to you, but could be overwhelming to your pup. So, the important things to remember are short diffusion times, low dilution rates, and using dog safe oils.
When diffusing with your dog (great for emotional wellness), it is best to stick to short intervals – 15 to 20 minutes every hour is definitely sufficient. If you are diffusing for yourself, just like with cats, make sure it is an open space and the dog has the opportunity to leave as needed.
Essential oils can be a great natural health aid for your dog, but you must take care when applying topically. The safe dilution rate for a small dog is 0.5-1%, a medium dog is 1-1.5% and a large dog is 1-2%. Do not use on puppies. It is always a good idea to start slowly and let your dog smell the scent before applying it so that you know if they can tolerate it or if they have an adverse reaction.
Try to avoid essential oils that are high in phenols and ketones. Here are some oils that should be completely avoided with dogs:
Anise, Birch, Camphor, Cassia, Clove, Garlic, Hyssop, Mugwort, Oregano, Pennyroyal, Thyme, Rue, Savory, Tansy, Tea Tree, Thuja, Wintergreen, Wormwood, and Yarrow.
How to Use Essential Oils With Your Pets
When you want to take the step to natural wellness with your pet, you should understand the best ways to use essential oils safely and appropriately. With dogs and horses, it is preferred to address emotional issues with aromatic use. Oftentimes, the animal may get nervous or stressed due to a circumstance, this is when you can allow them to smell relaxing oils like lavender or chamomile to help them calm down. Diffusing a small amount in the room with them for 15 minutes should help. Alternatively, you can put a drop of oil diluted with a carrier on a bandana and tie around the dog’s neck.
If your dog or horse has a physical issue you want to address, this is when you can use the essential oils topically. Maybe your dog has muscle pain from running around all day or has a rash on its skin; these are ideal times to use oils directly on them. Creating a blend with only 1 or 2 drops of essential oils in 5 ml of a carrier oil is safe. Another reason you might want to apply topically is to deter insects from bothering your animal. Here is a great tick prevention recipe:
Tick Free Pup Recipe
15 ml Carrier Oil of your choice
5 drops Geranium Essential Oil
4 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
4 drops Lavender Essential Oil
3 drops Myrrh Essential Oil
Mix all of the ingredients together and apply a few drops to the canine’s neck, chest, legs, or base of tail.
What About Hydrosols?
Great question! Hydrosols are a wonderful and safe option for pets. These gentle floral waters are a milder form of therapy containing only a minute amount of essential oil components. Hydrosols are the water-based byproduct of steam distilling plants, making them very similar to herbal tea. They have a subtle fragrance as well, so they are more tolerable for sensitive animals.
When dealing with a delicate pet, like a cat or a rabbit, you can safely use hydrosols in their daily care. Lavender or chamomile hydrosols are great remedies for both emotional and physical issues. Whether the animal is stressed or has a skin irritation, these hydrosols are a safe alternative to essential oils. In addition, you could use a hydrosol like lavender to clean a surface without harming your pets.
Did you know that you can diffuse hydrosols? If you are someone who loves to diffuse in your home but worry about hurting your small pet, you can easily diffuse your hydrosol. The smell is not overpowering to your pet and you can still enjoy the natural aromatherapy!
The Take Away
Although this information may be a bit overwhelming at first, it is not meant to scare you. The idea is that we just want to make sure you are caring for your pet in a natural but safe way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out via email with any questions you may have.