Essential oils have been used for centuries to treat many different problems. The three wise men brought baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Plants produce essential oils for a variety of reasons : repelling pests and fighting off bacteria, molds, viruses and fungi. We can use them similarly in pets.
When choosing an essential oil for your pet, be sure it is a high quality THERAPEUTIC GRADE (medical grade) oil. Not all oils are created equally. Many of the cheaper brands are diluted with synthetic oils that do NOT have the same therapeutic effects and can be harmful to your pet. A good example of this is Lavender oil. Lavender oil is the most popular and synthetically adulterated oil available. Also be sure your essential oil is 100% organic with no herbicides or pesticides. I trust the Young Living Essential Oil brand. Young Living controls 100% of the oil production from seed to seal. (For more info about Young Living Essential Oils please check out their website - www.youngliving.com).
Please DO NOT use essential oils in puppies or kittens less than 4 months of age. Consult a knowledgeable Veterinarian before using essential oils in very debilitated animals, pregnant or nursing animals, animals on blood thinning drugs or animals that seizure. Not all essential oils are safe for use in pets, and some are down-right controversial (such as Tea Tree oil - Melaleuca alternifolia). It is best to avoid using Tea Tree Oil in pets. Always check with a knowledgeable Veterinarian or Aromatherapist before using any essential oil on your pet.
Most essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil prior to applying to your pet. Examples of carrier oils include fractionated coconut oil, grape seed oil, or V-6 Enhanced Vegetable Oil complex (Young Living).
Store your essential oils in the original bottles (usually colored glass) in a cool, dark area. Do not refrigerate. Remember, essential oils will dissolve plastic, so they cannot be stored in plastic when full strength.
Dilution Instructions for Dogs
For dogs over 4 months of age-
<10 lb 75%
11-25 lb 50 - 75%
26 - 45 lb 50%
46 - 75 lb 25-50%
76-90 lb 25%
91-150 lb 0-25%
over 150 lb No dilution needed (apply neat)
Dilution Instructions for Cats
Cats over 4 months of age - 75-90% dilution
Introducing essential oils to your pet
Remember, animals have a much better sense of smell than humans. Gradually introduce the oil to your pet. First leave the capped oil bottle in the room with them and allow them to smell it. Next, remove the cap from the bottle and leave it open in the room with them for several hours (or over night). Be certain the bottle is in a safe spot, out of your pet's reach. Or, you can begin introducing the oil to your pet by applying it to yourself for a few days. Be sure to gradually introduce the oil before applying it to your pet or diffusing around your pet.
Applying essential oils
To apply the essential oil you can simply "pet" the diluted oil solution onto them by applying it to your hands. The oils will be absorbed through the hair follicles, so you don't need to worry about getting the oils down to your pet's skin. Its OK if they lick the oil off their fur. Be careful to avoid getting the oils in their eyes or on mucous membranes (like the lips, anus or genital areas). Avoid applying oils to their nose or muzzle.
If you notice skin irritation at the essential oil application site dilute it with a carrier oil. Please DO NOT rinse it off with water, since this will just drive the oils deeper into the skin. If you get essential oils in your pets eyes by accident (I know, they are wiggly sometimes...) rinse the eyes with milk (do not rinse with water).
Oils can also be diffused in an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser. The diffuser will aerosolize the oil droplets and can be placed in the room with them. Please do not "burn" the oil in a wax burner, as this will destroy the therapeutic benefits.
A drop of an essential oil can be placed on a bandanna, the harness or collar, or on bedding in the crate or cage. This is especially helpful for the calming oils like Lavender, Stress Away or Peace and Calming.
For more information on essential oil use in pets please check out our future blogs!