What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that come from the seeds, bark, stems, flowers and roots of plants. They are incredibly potent, fragrant and can be very beneficial to your health. Many people are familiar with essential oil use for humans, but a lot of people are unaware that you can use essential oils for your pets too. Essential oils have been used for a variety of pet health concerns like flea and tick prevention, skin issues, and behavior problems like anxiety.
Essential oils can have great benefits for your pets, but it is incredibly important that you know which oils are safe to use, how to use them, and to remember that each animal is different and may react uniquely to a particular essential oil. Similar to using essential oils with children, a little bit of essential oil goes a very long way with pets.
Since each species of animal is so different, we can’t just say what are the best essential oils for pets, but have to be more specific. In this article, we’re going to talk about the two most common pets—dogs and cats.
Essential Oils for Dogs
The best essential oils for dogs are:
Lavender oil is a common essential oil for humans and it can offer support for dogs as well. Just like with humans, lavender oil is one of the best calming essential oils for pets and can help dogs reduce their levels of stress and anxiety. Studies show that lavender has anti-anxiety effects and can even help dogs with PTSD. It is by far one of the best essential oils for pet anxiety.
The calming effects of lavender essential oil can be very helpful for anxiety in dogs, especially in situations that may give them stress like being in the car, going to the vet, or having trouble sleeping. One clinical trial looked at the effects of lavender essential oil on 32 dogs with a history of travel-induced excitement in their owners’ cars and found that the dogs exposed to the scent of lavender oil spent a significant amount more time resting and sitting and a lot less time moving around and vocalizing. The researchers of this study concluded that “Aromatherapy in the form of diffused lavender odor may offer a practical alternative treatment for travel-induced excitement in this species.”
Lavender oil is also a great topical remedy for skin concerns like allergies and burns, as well as for wounds and itching.
Cedarwood oil is great for dogs because it is a natural pest repellant. Cedarwood essential oil also has some impressive health benefits for canines. It can act as an antiseptic for the lungs and an expectorant for coughs like kennel cough. It also stimulates circulation and may help with body pains and arthritis. Additionally, cedarwood essential oil can help to boost hair growth, reduce dandruff, and has a mild calming effect that can help with anxiety.
Chamomile essential oil is another oil that has benefits for dogs. It is a gentle oil that has calming properties, and is an anti-inflammatory that can help with skin irritation, burns, wounds, ulcers or eczema. The scent of chamomile can help to relax anxious dogs.
Frankincense oil has antimicrobial properties and can help to boost your dog’s immune system. Research on frankincense shows that it also has use in protecting dogs from tumors and even has anti-depressive effects.
- Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil offers several benefits to dogs. One use for peppermint oil is in getting rid of fleas. It is actually a common ingredient in many natural flea repellants and is one of the best essential oils for pets fleas. Peppermint essential oil can also be used to relax sore muscles, sooth upset stomachs, and rejuvenate tired animals. It can also help to freshen bad dog breath—just be sure to dilute it. Additionally, peppermint oil can also sooth aching joints, as well as open the airways of the lungs and promote a healthy respiratory tract.
Essential Oils for Cats
The best essential oils for cats are:
Fennel essential oil has an interesting effect on cats and may be able to help balance the pituitary, thyroid and pineal glands. If your cat has a buildup of toxins or fluid in its tissues, topical application of fennel essential oil may help to break up the buildup and restore things back to normal.
Spearmint oil is one of the best essential oils for cats because it can treat a variety of concerns, such as diarrhea and nausea. Some vets use spearmint oil to balance the metabolism of overweight cats, and the oil can be used to improve uncomfortable symptoms of gastrointestinal issues. As with most essential oils, spearmint oil should be diluted before use—whether topically or consumed internally.
Cardamom essential oil can also be beneficial for cats. This oil acts as a great digestive aid and can help ease heartburn while also boosting the appetite. Additionally, it has natural antimicrobial properties that and can help to reduce coughs and boost the immune system.
Frankincense oil is another good oil for cats. It has been shown to potentially reduce tumors and ulcers in cats, and may also boost blood supply to the brain. However, it may also raise blood pressure so check with your vet before use and be cautious if your cat has a history of hypertension.
Helichrysum essential oil is another essential oil that has many benefits for cats. This essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can be used to boost heart health and support the nervous system, and it is great for decreasing bleeding due to accidents.
Tips for Using Essential Oils for Pets
Whenever you use essential oils for your pets, make sure that you use pure essential oils and always dilute them before application unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian. How much essential oil to use depends on what you are using it for, what animal you are using it for, and what kind of essential oil you have. It is best to seek advice from a veterinarian, but a safe bet is to start with a single drop of essential oil in 50 drops of a carrier oil, such as coconut, olive, avocado or jojoba oil.
It is also important to consider your pet’s age and size, and to use less with smaller dogs and cats, as well as puppies, kittens and older pets. You should be familiar with your pet’s health status and check with your vet to make sure no essential oils are contraindicated for your pet due to its breed or due to a health condition.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets? Safety Precautions for Using Essential Oils
Pay close attention to your pet’s reaction to essential oils, and stop using them right away if you observe any adverse reactions. Make sure to always avoid using essential oils on sensitive areas too, such as the eyes, ears, nose and genitals.
Do not use essential oils with small kittens or puppies under 10 weeks of age, and do not use oils on epileptic pets who are prone to seizures. It is also recommended to check with your vet before using any essential oils on pets that are pregnant or nursing.
Pay close attention and see a vet if you notice any of these signs or symptoms after using an essential oil for your pet:
- Difficulty breathing
- Lethargy or weakness
- Muscle tremors
- Trouble walking
- Redness or burns on the lips, gums, tongue or skin
- Pawing at the mouth or face
What Essential Oils Are Bad for Pets?
While certain essential oils are good for pets, there are many that are not, and some that can even kill your pet, which is why it is extremely important to be intentional with how you use essential oils and with what essential oils you use. If you take the necessary precautions and learn about your oils, then using essential oils can be of great benefit for your pet.
The essential oils that are considered toxic and not recommended for dogs are:
- Tea Tree
The essential oils that are considered toxic and not recommended for cats are:
- Tea Tree
Essential oils you should never use on any animal:
- Bitter Almond
- Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
- Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
- Red or White Thyme
- Tea Tree
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that come from the seeds, bark, stems, flowers and roots of plants. They are potent, fragrant and have numerous health benefits for humans and pets. Essential oils have been used for a variety of pet health concerns like flea and tick prevention, skin issues, and behavior problems like anxiety.
When using essential oils for pets, it is very important that you know which oils are safe to use, how to use them, and to remember that each animal is different and may react uniquely to a particular essential oil. A little bit of essential oil goes a very long way with pets.
The best essential oils for dogs are lavender oil, cedarwood oil, chamomile oil, frankincense oil and peppermint oil. The best essential oils for cats are fennel oil, spearmint oil, cardamom oil, frankincense oil, and helichrysum oil.
Whenever you use essential oils for your pets, make sure that you use pure essential oils and always dilute them before application unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian. Pay close attention to your pet’s reaction to essential oils, and stop using them right away if you observe any adverse reactions.
Essential oils have many uses for humans and pets. They can be a great natural way to ease anxiety in your pet, to help with cuts and skin ailments, to boost the immune system, and to aid many other ailments, but it is very important that you do your research on what oils you use and use them with care. If you are unsure about any oil, seek advice from your veterinarian. Once you know what is safe for your pet, essential oils can be a great addition to your pet medicine cabinet.