Essential oil use on and around animals, particularly common household pets, is becoming a hot topic. Unfortunately, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to give really solid guidelines about animal aromatherapy at this time. Most of the research done on animals with essential oils is conducted to learn more about aromatherapy in humans and not to help pet owners make smart essential oil decisions. If aromatherapy in humans is a relatively young holistic health field (and it is!), then aromatherapy in animals is in its earliest infancy.
It’s important for pet owners to realize that different animals will likely process essential oils differently. This is due to both size differences and variations in how different species metabolize, or process, the substances they inhale, absorb, and ingest. Different sized dogs, like a chihuahua and a German shepherd, will handle essential oils differently because of weight variation. Similarly, same-sized animals of different species, like a rabbit and a cat, will respond to aromatherapy differently because their bodies work differently.
Most animals also have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, so a scent that’s barely noticeable to a pet owner may be overwhelming to their animal. This doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to use essential oils if you have pets in the home, though. With a few common sense guidelines, you can safely enjoy home aromatherapy even when sharing space with a furry, scaly, or feathered friend. Of course, if your pet has a health concern, it’s best to consult your veterinarian rather than try to treat it yourself with essential oils. There’s simply not enough known about animal aromatherapy to put your pets at risk with try-and-see treatments. We don’t want to use our pets as guinea pigs, even if they actually are guinea pigs!
Pet Safety Guidelines
Every pet is different and may have varied responses to essential oils. Cats are very sensitive to many oils; so if you have cats, be extra cautious around essential oils like birch, clove, cinnamon, oregano, tea tree, thyme and wintergreen. All citrus oils are toxic for cats.
✔ Always be sure you use high-quality essential oils purchased from reputable companies with and around your animals.
✔ Never diffuse essential oils in a closed room with an animal.
✔ Always be sure your pet can easily leave the room where you are diffusing.
✔ Use extra caution or avoid essential oils around birds, cats, reptiles, fish, and very small mammals. ✔ Always dilute essential oils if you are going to apply them topically to an animal.
✔ Be aware that animals may lick the area where essential oils were topically applied and watch for any negative reactions.
✔ Never apply essential oils, even diluted, to an animal’s muzzle/snout, ears, mouth, eyes, genital area, or any other sensitive area.
✔ Do not add essential oils to an animal’s food or water.
✔ Do not give essential oils internally to an animal unless you are working with a seasoned animal aromatherapist and knowledgeable veterinarian.
✔ Always talk with your veterinarian about how you use essential oils with or around your animals.
✔ Always store essential oils away from pets and out of their reach.