Updated: Apr 1
Have you used essential oils for yourself? Have you used or thought about using them around or even for your animals? PLEASE DON'T until you educate yourself. Essential oils are potent medicine. Although pure essential oils are therapeutic, medicinal and mood enhancing for humans, they can be harmful or even deadly when used incorrectly around or on animals.
Here some critical safety tips:
1) A cat's liver cannot metabolize essential oils with phenols (cinnamon, thyme, clove, oregano, Tea Tree or malaleuca oils), ketones (sage, hyssop, yarrow, pennyroyal), monoterpene hydrocarbons limonene (citrus - lemon, orange, tangerine, madarin, grapefruit, lime, bergamot) and pinene (pines, balsam, spruce, fir, juniper). Not only should these oils (or any others) not be topically applied to a cat, they should not be diffused where cats live. Sadly, there's a lot of misinformation out there about essential oil use with cats and other animals.
Even though you may encounter information from others, as well as essential oil distributors that say their oils are perfectly safe for animals, is it worth the risk to your beloved cat?
To keep your cat safe, use only hydrosols which are made through steam distillation with no solvents, additives or preservatives. Hydrosols can be sprayed on bedding, toys or around the room for calming and healing. Do not spray on your cat! Be certain your cat is attracted to the smell before spraying all around! Safe plant oils in hydrosol form for cats include: lavender, lemon verbena, chamomile (German and Roman), rose, basil, neroli, jasmine, sweet fennel, frankincense, vetiver.
Dogs and Horses
Dogs and horses have a much greater tolerance for and affinity for essential oils than cats. However, essential oils should always be diluted before applying to the skin - 5% essential oil to 95% carrier oil such as olive, walnut, sesame. Never put oils on their nose or face. Allow the horse or dog to sniff the diluted oil and proceed to apply a small dab ONLY if the animal is interested.
The phenols, limonenes, and pinenes listed above for cats, should be avoided for dogs as well. Other essential oils to be avoided with dogs (and cats) are camphor, garlic, wormwood, rue, anise, wintergreen.
Essential oils or any aromatherapy products should never be used on birds, amphibians, or aquatic animals.
This article is really just some important basic info. Let me conclude with some important tips from my friend and Master Essential Oil Therapist, Frances Cleveland* when you are looking for essential oils for yourself or hydrosols for your animals,
"Educate yourself, learn the plant name and Latin name of the essential oil. This knowledge helps you know you are getting the correct essential oil.
Adulteration of essential oils has been around for centuries. With the growing demand for essential oils and the development of new technologies, contamination is becoming more sophisticated and prevalent.
Work with an educated and experienced essential oil practitioner. Research the company you are buying from, call ask questions. (e.g., how long have you been working with animals? How do you know this is safe for animals?) "
Once again, I wish to emphasize Frances’s point, the safest course is to work with someone specifically trained to work with essential oils and animals. Someone who distributes oils through their company is not a trained essential oil therapist. They may have good information regarding humans using oils but dangerous misinformation about oils and animals. There are many companies out there who claim their oils are pure and therapeutic, but where is the science backing those claims? Please call and ask before purchasing.
Finally, although they have a short shelf life, my best recommendation is keep your animals safe and stick with hydrosols from organic plants with no added preservatives whenever possible. Note: Most hydrosols you purchase from retail do have a preservative added to them to lengthen the shelf life. Here's one lavender hydrosol that doesn't Love Your Pet.
Applied with knowledge, care, and used correctly, essential oils can be helpful and healing. But FIRST find out if they are appropriate for your companion. Let's find out with an animal communication session! Click here if you're new to me and here if you're a returning client.
With Love, Your Voice of Animals,
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* See Frances's website for more information. She's offering 20% off her dog and horse formulas until March 26th at www.frogworks.us
For more information see Working with Plants and Essential Oils for You and Your Animals Coursebook by Frances Cleveland, Paleo Dog and The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care by Jean Hofve, DVM and Celeste Yarnall, PhD.