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  • Writer's pictureKnollwood Hospital for Pets

Using essential oils safely for pets

Using essential oils safely for pets

Before we talk about specific essential oils, let’s talk about safety.

TEST FIRST. When someone tells you that Essential Oil X is “safe for dogs and cats”, remember that they are saying that it is safe for “a” cat or dog, not YOUR cat or dog. Always test a small amount first, and do so in a confined area. Here’s how: Add just 1-2 drops to an essential oil diffuser in a room with a closeable door, and allow the oil to diffuse for no more than 15 minutes before unplugging and removing the diffuser.

Make sure your pet can leave the room if it wishes, and carefully monitor your pet’s reaction. If your pet is comfortable, gradually increase the time of exposure, 15 minutes at a time. If your pet exhibits any distress, begins grooming frantically, or leaves the area, pay attention to this lesson, and don’t use that oil again. Every oil and every pet is different - what one likes, another may find just awful.

DIFFUSE WISELY. Start with a diffuser instead of using the oil on a house filter. That way, bad reactions are limited to one area and only for a short time. When using an essential oil diffuser, keep it away from where your pets sleep, eat or play - and sleep. Remember, your pet’s sense of smell is much more acute than yours. Your pets don’t need to sleep right under a diffuser to get all the health benefits you’re hoping for. And yes, 1-2 drops is really enough!

DON’T APPLY TOPICALLY. Many essential oils straight out of the bottle are too strong to be applied topically to your pet. Even some heavily marketed oils (such as the one that rhymes with Lung) that specifically SAY to apply topically or orally, can cause profound eye, ear, skin, and - you got it - lung irritation in sensitive individuals. To avoid potential internal and external irritations, you should always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before every applying to skin, fur or placing in a pet’s mouth.

What about so-called “raindrop therapy?”, or the use of multiple oils on a single pet? We say it’s a marketing scheme to sell you more oils. In countries where aromatherapy and essential oil therapy is used as legitimate medical therapy, it is seldom used, especially on animals.

Additionally, if you use essential oils on your own skin, pay special attention to how you’re petting your fur baby. If you use topical oils for yourself, wash yourself before cuddling with your pet, and avoid pet contact with any areas you’ve directly applied oils to. Both cats and dogs use their tongues to groom themselves, and you don’t want them licking essential oil residues.

STORE SAFELY. Keep your essential oils and diffusers in a locked cabinet to deter curious noses,, and clean up after any spills that may happen when using a diffuser or while blending with carrier oils. Never let rambunctious pets play around diffusers.

Where does this info come from, anyway? Dr. M has been using essential oils for many years and has trialed oils from just about every available source. She feels most comfortable with the information from several of the sources she uses at home and in her hospital: Oshadhi and Gurunanda

NEXT TIME: Best essential oils for dogs & cats

Until then, Good health to you and your fur babies, from Dr. M.

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