There are many health benefits to essential oils, including promoting relaxation, improving digestion, balancing hormones, treating skin problems, easing aches, reducing inflammation and more. But are essential oils safe to use on pets, when an animal's reactions may be very different than a human's?
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated compounds derived from plants. Any part of a plant may be used to produce an oil, including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds or bark. The phytochemicals of the plant – the chemicals responsible for distinctive colors, smells or tastes – are extracted and distilled into very potent oils. These oils are popular in all-natural, homeopathic remedies and therapies, and may be consumed, applied topically or inhaled through air diffusers. Essential oils are found in a wide range of products, including aromatherapy candles and waxes, lotions, soaps, cleansers, food flavorings, perfumes, bath salts, medicinal compresses and more.
Many different plants have been used to create essential oils, and each one has different therapeutic and healing properties. Some of the most popular and widespread options include…
- Tea tree
Before using any essential oils, it is wise to check with your physician about any potential problems or complications, particularly when used in conjunction with other treatment options or if you have any unusual sensitivities or allergies.
How Essential Oils Could Help Pets
Because many essential oils can provide mild relief in all-natural ways, they can also be of great use to pets for a variety of conditions. Just as with human use, oils may be applied to a pet's skin or diffused into the air for gentle inhalation. Animals are more sensitive than humans, however, and care must be taken not to overwhelm your pet, which could lead to toxicity complications or poisoning. Discuss your pet's needs and the use of oils with your veterinarian beforehand, and always be cautions and gentle when using oils with your pet.
Pet health conditions that could benefit from essential oil treatments include…
- Arthritis or other joint and mobility issues
- Hot spots, eczema and other skin conditions
- Flea and tick bites
- Anxiety, depression or stress
- Digestive trouble
Essential oils are not suitable for all animals, and which oils are safe will depend on your pet's species, size, age and general health. Always consult your veterinarian before using essential oils or changing to a different type of oil with your pet.
Tips for Using Essential Oils on Pets
Once your veterinarian agrees that essential oils are safe for your pet and could provide some relief, it is still necessary to be cautious with their use.
- Only use the highest quality, natural oils on your pet. This will minimize the risk of introducing other potentially dangerous compounds or contaminants to your pet.
- Do not administer essential oils for your pet to consume, either in their food or water. Some plant compounds can be highly toxic to animals if consumed, even in the smallest quantities.
- Always dilute oils to be used with your pet to avoid overwhelming their more delicate senses with stronger compounds.
- Avoid using essential oils as preventative treatments with pets, and only consider their use when a condition already exists to be treated. This will minimize the risk of overexposure or toxicity from concentrated compounds.
- Do not use essential oils with very young animals, pregnant pets or around any pets that may be nursing. Younger pets are more susceptible to adverse reactions from concentrated oils.
- Avoid getting any essential oils near sensitive tissues such as your pet's eyes, ears, mouth, nose or genitals. In the case of accidental contact, rinse the area thoroughly but gently, and contact an animal poison control hotline if needed.
- Always store essential oils out of reach of pets, and keep aroma diffusers or other equipment well away from pets to avoid any accidental contamination.
- If you regularly use oils for your own treatment, keep your pets away from the oils to avoid accidental exposures. Keep pets out of an area where you may use an infuser, for example, and always wash your hands thoroughly after using oils before you interact with your pet.
Essential oils can be a natural, gentle way to provide relief from different conditions, and if used safely and appropriately, they can benefit your pet as well.