Essential Oils? PLEASE Read
Updated: Apr 7
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) EVER 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 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, lemongrass, chamomile (German and Roman), rose, basil, calendula, neroli, sweet pea, jasmine, coriander, sweet fennel, rosemary.
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, yarrow.
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?) "
Finally, my best recommendation is keep your animals safe and stick with hydrosols from organic plants whenever possible.
For more information see Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals, by Kristen Leigh Bell, Paleo Dog and Holistic Cat Care by Jean Hofve, DVM and Celeste Yarnall, PhD.
With Love, Your Voice of Animals,