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Essential Oils And Pets

pennyEssential Oils have proven to provide many benefits for our beloved pets, however, they also pose a risk to them as well.

With the surge in pet parents seeking natural alternatives for things like healing ailments and cleaning around the home, we are beginning to hear about dangerous encounters that pets have had with essential oils including death.

The increased use along with the lack of proper knowledge has led to many cases of pet poisoning. There are some essential oils you can use for pets as well as in the home of pets, but you should make yourself aware of the dangers first.

The Blessing and Curse of Essential Oils to Pets

Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds derived from the roots, stems, leaves, nuts, flowers, seeds and other parts of plants. They are incredibly potent and fragrant giving plants their distinctive smell, such as a rose. They protect plants and play a role in plant pollination. For a long time, essential oils have aided in natural healing for humans and animals.

Volatile aromatic compounds are small organic molecules that change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature, making inhalation almost instantaneous. In addition to inhalation, essential oils can also be absorbed by the body via ingestion and dermal contact.

Essential oils can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness for both dogs and cats.  They can be used as single essential oils or in complex essential oil blends depending on what your pet needs.

This is what makes using essential oils both powerful and dangerous at the same time. Any use of essential oils on pets or in the home of pets should be carefully monitored. It is advisable to seek advice from a veterinary regarding the benefits and effects of essential oils on pets before using them.

If used correctly, essential oils have lots of benefits for your pets.  However, it is important to begin slowly and dilute the oils to test your pet’s tolerance to the oil first.  HERE is some important information on safe dilution practices.

Toxic Essential Oils to Avoid 

The Pet Poison Helpline states that while many oils are safe for pets, there are quite a few that should be avoided including:

  • Melaleuca Oil is commonly known as tea tree oil. This oil is responsible for a large number of toxicities in dogs. Derived from the Australian tea tree, this offending oil is often used by pet parents hoping to combat pests like fleas and even used to treat skin conditions.  While this oil is used in many over the counter products across the globe, it is only used in trace amounts. Used alone, it can cause horrible effects that require prompt veterinary care. Signs of depression, lack of coordination, paralysis, low body temperature, and vomiting are often seen when used on or around dogs.
  • Pennyroyal Oil is known to cause liver failure.  Similar to tea tree oil, Pennyroyal is often used by well-meaning pet parents to treat for fleas and other pests. Signs of toxicity in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. This known toxin may even cause death.
  • Oil of Wintergreen is another essential oil that should be avoided. Oil of Wintergreen comes from the Eastern Teaberry.  It contains methyl salicylates, otherwise known as aspirin.  Used very commonly for the relief of pains and aches, Oil of Wintergreen can cause toxic effects. Vomiting, ulcers as well as kidney and liver failure are the result of exposure.
  • Birch Oil can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney failure, seizures, and death.
  • Bitter Almond Oil can cause gastrointestinal distress, obesity, and pancreatitis in dogs due to their inability to properly digest the protein in nuts.
  • Clove Oil and allspice both contain a compound called Eugenol, which can cause liver toxicity in cats.

Safe Essential Oils for Dogs

Essential oils pack a powerful punch for pets and their people. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, trace amounts of essential oil can be safe when treating a variety of ailments in pets.

  • Chamomile Oil has been linked to supporting skin health.
  • Coconut Oil is helpful in maintaining healthy and hydrated skin as well as odor control.
  • Jojoba helps maintain soft skin and coat as well as supporting moisture to avoid dry skin.
  • Lavender Oil not only relaxes our pets, but it can also help with soothing skin and maintaining a healthy coat, and also help with anxiety, allergies, insomnia, and even burns
  • Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acid) helps keep a dogs coat shiny and smooth.
  • Avocado Oil has many benefits for dogs. Adding avocado to their diet supports a healthy coat, adds shine, and keeps your pup’s skin moist and healthy.
  • Aloe Vera is used to helping maintain healthy skin from think like bruises, burns, and minor irritations. However, Aloe Vera can make our pet sick if ingested.  If you were to use this topically be sure to cover the area so your pet doesn’t lick it.
  • Spearmint Oil is used for nausea, diarrhea, and other issues like colic, gallbladder stimulation, and works to stabilize metabolism.
  • Peppermint Oil when paired with massage, will help calm a dog’s anxiety.

Cats are also susceptible to the harmful effects of essential oils but have a higher risk to experience the dangerous effects of essential oils. due to their bodies lack an enzyme that makes it possible to eliminate toxins such as essential oils.

In short, essential oils should be used with caution around dogs. Never use essential oils on your pets or in your home without consulting highly regarded sources that are well aware of the dangers to pets.

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