Essential oils are becoming more and more mainstream with people searching for healthier, cleaner and more natural alternatives.
However, even though these oils are becoming more and more popular in human medicine are they safe for our pets?
Essential oils are naturally occurring oils in plants, flowers or other natural sources, and are typically obtained by distillation. As a result the oil usually smells like the fragrance of the plant or other source from which it was extracted. In humans we are using the oils in diffusers to gently infuse the air that we are breathing, directly onto the skin to absorb the medicinal properties, or on personal diffusers such as lava stone jewelry that allows the person wearing it to enjoy the fragrance all day.
So there are 2 things to consider here:
1) Many people are asking if they can use these oils on their pets, and
2) Are the oils that we are using for ourselves safe for our pets?
Unfortunately, like most things, the answer is not completely cut and dry. It depends on the type of oil being considered and the type of pet that we are discussing. This is actually a really great reminder of how different all of our species are and how, what is safe for one, may be toxic to another.
For dogs and cats there are a variety of oils that are safe for them to be exposed to. As a rule cats are more sensitive than dogs, due to a difference in how they metabolize substances in their liver. For the oils that are safe for pets they can be used either in the diffused form or, very diluted, topically.
Birds and other exotics are exquisitely sensitive to all oils and essential oils of any kind kind be acutely fatal to them. This is due to the birds unique air sac system. The oils are too heavy for them to inhale and cause damage to their air sacs that can prove to be rapidly fatal, within minutes, or even seconds of exposure.
So what should you do if you are interested in using essential oils in your home or for your pet?
Firstly, we recommend researching some reputable sources. There are some lists online (Essential Oils for Pets: The Best & Worst Oils to Help Your Furry Friends) where you can double (and triple) check the safety of the oils that you are hoping to use. Further, if you are wanting to use the essential oils for your pet consider visiting a veterinarian that specializes in natural treatment options. Even if you discover that the oils are safe for your pet, make sure that you are using them appropriately. For example, an oil that is safe to be diffused may not be safe if inhaled from a lava bead bracelet or if the bracelet is licked or chewed.
There are lots of things to consider, but if you are educated and cautious then (some) essential oils can be used safely in your home.
As always, if you have any concerns or questions the vets at Healthy Pets are just a video or text chat away.