Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular in the world of natural pet care. When used correctly, essential oils offer a chemical-free alternative to help address inflammation, infection, anxiety and countless other pet concerns. However, as with any remedy natural or not, when used incorrectly essential oils can do more harm than good. Check out the following tips to help your pup enjoy a smooth and safe introduction to the natural benefits of essential oils.
Always consult a veterinarian before incorporating essential oils into your pet care routine. Specifically, ask if your chosen essential oil is the right fit for your pup, how the oil can benefit them, as well as dosage and application advice. We do not suggest using essential oils on or around cats unless first approved through a veterinarian.
Not All Essential Oils Are Created Equal
As with any over-the-counter product, not all essential oils are created equal. When selecting a brand, it’s crucial to do your research, shop around, and explore all available options. Sadly, many essential oil companies sell products contaminated with impurities and other toxins that could be harmful to your pup. Only purchase from reputable and well-reviewed sources, preferably companies that have an extensive history of offering essential oils for therapeutic purposes (pet-friendly companies are even better). As a rule, look for essential oils marked “therapeutic grade” or “medical grade.” Avoid those marketed as “fragrance-grade,” as these are typically inferior in quality and often contain contaminants that could harm your pet.
Never Give Orally
Dogs should never be fed or allowed to ingest essential oils. Oral ingestion can lead to gastric distress, tissue damage, organ failure, and general toxicity among other scary side effects. Keep it simple and avoid all internal use when it comes to essential oils and pet care.
Did you know on average essential oils are over 75 times more potent than their herbal counterparts? For example, it takes roughly 16 pounds of peppermint leaves to make a single ounce of peppermint essential oil! Given this, you can imagine why it’s important to dilute essential oils before using them around your pet. While the exact specs will vary depending on use, animal age, weight, and a number of other factors, we suggest aiming for approximately 3-6 drops of essential oil per 1 oz. of carrier oil.
Know Which Essential Oils to Avoid
In general, avoid using the following essential oils on or around your dog:
- Citrus oils (like lemon and orange, for example)
- Ylang ylang
- Tea tree
- Sweet birch
Watch For Signs of Sensitivity
Even when using the right essential oils in the correct manner your dog could still experience an adverse reaction to essential oil use. Knowing what to look for in the event of such a reaction can save you and your pup considerable stress and discomfort. Here are the common symptoms of essential oil irritation and poisoning:
- Loss of balance
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle tremors
- Pawing at the mouth or face
To prevent essential oil overexposure, avoid application on or near sensitive areas—such as the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and genitals. Additionally, avoid use on very young, very old, pregnant, nursing, ill or weak pets. And again, consult a veterinarian before incorporating essential oils into your pet care routine.