Essential Oils and Animals
These days many of us get our news from sites like Facebook. Which can be a quick, effective way to learn about subjects you are interested in. But the downside is people can post anything they want, the more sensational, the better. Many articles on facebook simply are not true. They are people’s opinions or fabricated facts for a reaction. I personally like to look at these posts to see what kind of information people are getting and how I can provide better information on topics everyone is interested in. An example of this situation of sensationalism is essential oils and animals. There recently was an article about essential oils making a cat sick on facebook that got a big reaction in the animal community. I would like to now explore how essential oils should be used around animals and what great benefits they can provide!
How can something be providing wonderful healing effects for some people and animals and be associated with toxicity in others? The answer is simple, the handling and exposure of the animal to the products, as well as how well the oil is made. *Brief disclaimer* Many people feel that if you are talking about a certain brand name product, you must be endorsed or sponsored by that brand. That is not always the case as sometimes there is one brand that is better! A practitioner that cares about the integrity and safety of the product versus only making money, will recommend the better product. I personally use Young Living Oils as do many veterinary practitioners who want to provide the safest and most pure oils to their clients. (insert fron Young living book, toxins). Most of the reference information about the use of essential oils and animals comes from the use of Young Living Oils. There are other brands that are reputable and it is up to the individual to do their research. A low priced oil is no different from an air freshener. They usually have some of the essential oil, but are not pure. Some are completely created in a lab for the smell and have no therapeutic purpose. So a poor quality essential oil that is only chemicals that is applied to an animal or ingested can have side effects. Essentially the same as the current epidemic of kids eating Tide Pods!
Cats and dogs are different creatures physically and mentally! Drugs and medications that are used for dogs can have drastic side effects in cats. If a drug can be used for both species the dose may be very different. The drugs and doses are also different for horses, cows, birds, hamsters and humans! So it makes sense that how you use oils for humans would be different for dogs, as well as different for cats and horses. Essential oils should always be offered to the animal to smell before they are diffused or applied to their skin. Applying 1-2 drops to your hands and letting the animal smell your hand is a great way to do it. Letting them smell the bottle can be overwhelming. It is very important to not apply the oils to the skin of the animal if you are only supposed to let them smell them. And there are very few cases where the animal should ingest the oils. IMPROPER APPLICTION OR DIGESTION IS HOW MOST CASES OF TOXICITY OCCUR. A cat may confuse the oil diffuser for a water fountain or some of the oils can taste sweet so they will lick them. A water based diffuser or passive diffusion (applying several drops of oil to a cotton ball or fabric and allowing the scent to waft through the room) is the best way to introduce your animal to the diffusion of an oil. It is always important to monitor your animal when introducing a diffuser. NEVER LEAVE YOUR ANIMAL IN A ROOM OR A CAGE WHERE THEY CANNOT GET AWAY FROM THE SCENT OF THE ESSENTIAL OIL. If your pet has had enough of the scent they will leave. Side effects can occur if the animal is over exposed to the scent. Side effects to watch for include; lethargy, increased breathing rate, panting, drooling, squinting eyes or any other unusual behavior. Finally it is important to remember how strong an animals sense of smell is. Scent dogs can find bodies that are underwater! So if the scent does not smell strong to you it may be to them. Another super interesting fact is that hair follicles enhance the transdermal (across skin) absorption of essential oils. Cats which are thought to be the most sensitive to essential oils have more hair follicles per square inch of skin, than a dog, horse or of course us! Chincillas and some exotics have an even denser amount of hair follicles. So that could be a major reason why cats and exotics are more sensitive to essential oils! The hair follicles can help absorb the oils that are applied to an animal topically, but also those that are airborne!
Essential oils can be used to maintain health, but also to manage and supplement treatment for medical conditions, like a medication. So it is important that they are used correctly and not administered if they are not supposed to be! We will talk further about the use of essential oils for certain conditions in another article!