Monday, January 23, 2017

Essential Oil Safety For Pets

The other day, my neighbor came over with a catalog and a basket of essential oils. The aroma in my house soon turned into a wondrous rainbow of smells and it honestly helped the cold congestion everyone in my house had been feeling for the last week.

While the aromas lingered in my household, it got me thinking about essential oils for pets. EO's have been around for a long time and lately their popularity is becoming mainstream. We all want something a little more natural.... a simpler way of doing things in our life. And let's face it, we all wonder sometimes if we really need all those tests our vet is pinning onto our bill (I still don't have the answer to that.) We love our pets. They are part of our family and we want the very best for them... Which is a happy, HEALTHY life. But are EO's safe for pets?

I immediately started researching the topic and was surprised by results. For dogs and horses, there is a wide array of articles on how to use essential oils for treatment of ailment after ailment. But for cats, the research was very limited and caught me by surprise. Cats have a very unique physiology and essential oils may not be a good idea. Cats lack a proper detoxification process called hepatic glucuronidation. In layman's terms, it means they cannot fully metabolize the essential oil. The EO's slowly build up in their system causing toxicity problems. Liver damage is a slow process, it often takes a while for something to be noticed. If you would like the full scientific explanation, feel free to read this article by The Lavender Cat. The article also gives you some helpful hints if you use essential oils on yourself and have kitty family members. (example: A cat's liver takes approx. 48 hours to detox. If you diffuse essential oils in your house, try to only do it once every 48 hours and have an "escape" route for your cat... aka another room.) There are some essential oils that are deemed "low risk" for cats and some are "high risk". My advice would be to research any essential oil that you are going to diffuse into your house and weigh the cost/risk.

Ok... now for dogs. Dogs have had a lot more success with essential oils. But before you rub your dog down in lavender oil, there are some things you should know first:

  • Always use therapeutic grade essential oils. These will be more pricey, but are purer. There will be no "additives" that may make your pup sick. Price usually indicates quality!
  • Your essential oil should not be oily or leave a greasy residue. 
  • Packing should include the common name and Latin binomial, country of origin, method of distillation, lot #, amount of oil in the bottle, company info and how the plant was grown. 
  • RESEARCH and make sure you check credentials! Basically, does this person know what he/she is talking about? Some essential oils should never be used on dogs, some are controversial and some are commonly used. Do your research!
  • When you first try an essential oil on your dog, let them smell it first with the cap still on the bottle (unopened). If your dog gets all excited and happy, try a little bit and watch for any adverse reactions. If your dog is acting like the smell is the most putrid thing in the world, it may not be a good idea to diffuse it around them.
  • Always dilute the oils before using topically or before inhalation. (see below for a handy dilution image) Remember, a dog's nose is WAY more sensitive than a human's!
  • Do not use EO's on large breed dogs under 8 weeks or small breeds under 10 weeks.
  • Gradually introduce oils. One at a time! If you give your dog five oils at once and they develop an allergic reaction, you won't know which one it was.
  • Most issues that dogs have can be addressed with inhalation of a diluted essential oil. Putting it on them topically should be used sparingly. 
  • Only use essential oil as needed. Essential oils should not be used as a "preventative". 
  • Do NOT add essential oils to food or water. 
The handy dilution image:

It should be noted that a "Carrier Oil" is a basic oil like Olive oil, Coconut oil, Almond oil, ect...

 And here is another image that shows you what Essential oils are deemed safe to use. I got this image from one of my favorite essential oil safety sites: I highly recommend this site if you are in to essential oils for your dog or yourself!

 And last but not least, I will provide you with some useful links:

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