How to use essential oils with pets

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Essentia oils for petsAromatherapy for pets is highly efficient however, although essential oils are natural products in essence, one cannot assume that they are all safe for pets. With many pets, you should avoid the use of essential oils altogether.

It takes good knowledge of animals and aromatherapy to know when and how to use essential oils with pets.

cockatielBirds especially are susceptible to severe reactions to essential oils.

You should not even diffuse essential oils in the air near birds.

They can have respiratory problems that can be deadly.




Cats are like birds; essential oils are harmful to them. There is much controversy over whether you can use essential oils with cats. I personally do not use aromatherapy on cats. Many pet care products for cats contain essential oils. Veterinarians, though, explain that essential oils do more harm than good to cats. Oils like Peppermint and Tea Tree are too “hot” for cats. Their sensitive skin will burn. Essential oils enter the bloodstream via hair (topical application on skin), through the digestive tract when ingested, or through the nostrils when particuls are breathed in. The body then must eliminate whatever it has taken in. This is done through the liver.

The problem is that a cat’s liver is more delicate than a human’s or that of other animals. It takes some forty eight hours for the cat’s liver to process and expel the essential oils. This can lead to a build-up and finally to liver damage. Over dose of essential oils can be lethal to cats.

bulldog-smDogs are more suited to the use of essential oils, but you should always dilute them before applying them. If you use a reasonable amount of caution, you can use essential oils to help dogs with many common problems. You can massage the essential oils mixed with carrier oils into the dog’s skin. Preferably, use an area of the skin that is the least hairy.
You can massage the dog’s paws with the oil blend. The tips of the ears and along the spine are suitable areas as well. You can also use a diffuser in a room twice a day and let your dog breathe the air from it. Since a dog’s liver is hardier, this will not damage it. You can use a mist to spray around the areas where the dog stays, too. You should always be cautious not to spray or apply essential oils on genitals, near or in the eyes. Edible essential oils can be added to food as well.

Many dogs will develop arthritis as they get older. Sometimes owners will even euthanize their dogs just so they won’t have to suffer with this ailment. However, there are essential oils that can help your dog live a more comfortable life.

Horse is stableHorses are excellent candidates for aromatherapy. They are naturally attuned to plants and essential oils being derived from plants and flowers are no exception.
When a horse is presented with essential oils he likes, he will sniff it, curl his lips or even try to take the bottle of your hand. If he does not like it, he will turn his head or even walk away.
Horses instinctively know which essential oils they need at that very moment.

Essential oils listed above can be used with horses.

Essential oils you can use to help arthritis sufferers are:

essential oilsDetoxifying oils to remove toxic build ups associated with arthritis: Fennel, Cypress, Juniper and Lemon.

Analgesic essential oils: Lavender, Chamomile, Rosemary. Although Birch is a strong painkiller, anti-inflammatory and helps expel lactic acid, I recommend to be used with caution with animals. The main constituent of Birch is Methyl Salicylate which is known in its synthesized form as Aspirin. This means it carries all the pros and cons of the medication.

Others that show great results are Turmeric, Oregano (caution! this oil is dermacaustic, so must be highly diluted), Thyme satureoides, Eucalyptus citriodora, Golden Rod, Basil

To improve circulation:

Black Pepper, Ginger and Marjoram.

For digestive upsets, you can use the following essential oils:

Tarragon, Peppermint. Cinnamon (bark or leaf) can be put in food. This oil is a skin irritant and must be highly diluted when used as massage oil. It is fine when ingested though.

Essential oils used as insect repellent against fleas and flies are:

Cajeput, Lavender, Niaouli, Tea Tree, Citronella, Patchouli, Peppermint, Eucalyptus. Here I would like to mention Neem oil, although it is not an essential oil but a carrier oil. This oil is highly efficient in keeping insects away. Its garlic scent may help but it is its taste that insects don’t like. So once they had a bite, they don’t come back.

Many ear problems in dogs can be helped with essential oils of:

Basil, Lavender, Niaouli and Chamomile.

Essential oils to treat Hot Spots are:

Lavender, Sage, Chamomile, Niaouli, Clove (must be highly diluted).

How to dilute essential oils

As mentioned earlier, with the exception of Lavender, Chamomile, Tea-tree and Niaouli, essential oils must be diluted in carrier oil.
When working with animals, the dilutions that work best are between 1% to 2.5% max. For youngsters and geriatric animals, use 0.5% to 1% max.

So here is a little table for you to help you calculate the right dilution:

100ml of carrier oil at 1% dilution = 1ml (100 x 1%)
1ml of essential oil = 20 drops of essential oil

100ml of carrier oil at 2% dilution = 2ml
2ml of essential oil = 40 drops of essential oil

100ml of carrier oil at 2.5% dilution = 2.5ml
2.5ml of essential oil = 50 drops (2.5 x 20) of essential oil

100ml of carrier oil at 0.5% dilution = 0.5ml
0.5ml of essential oil = 10 drops (0.5 x 20)

30ml of carrier oil at 1% = 0.3ml
0.3ml = 6 drops (20 x 0.3)

30ml of carrier oil at 2% = 0.6ml
0.6ml = 12 drops

30ml of carrier oil at 2.5% = 0.75ml
0.75ml = 15 drops

And so on.

Quality of essential oils is important

One very important point is to ALWAYS buy, pure, natural essential oils. Although they are more expensive and we are using them on our pets, synthetic essential oils do not work and are processed with chemicals. A good example is Lavender, which is sold in supermarkets at a very low price. Lavender can be used undiluted on wounds and burns. It does not sting. On the contrary, it kills the pain straight away. However, if using cheap Lavender oil, it will sting and burn and your pet won’t like it! The reason is that type of Lavender oil is steam distilled with Ester at a ratio of 40/42% (min). Same applies to Tea Tree.

Aromatherapy can provide serious help to your pet, even when traditional medicine has failed. As explained in this article, it can be dangerous as well, so care should be taken and you should consult an aromatherapist if in doubt. Don’t forget that the delicate scents of essential oils bring well being to not only your pet, but to you as well!

Of course, always consult your vet when your pet is ill.

If you have any queries on how to use essential oils for your pets, feel free to contact me

6 thoughts on “How to use essential oils with pets”

  1. Hi. My old 17 year old shit tzu is deaf and semi blind, understandability she has separation anxiety when ever we are not sitti g down next to her stroking her and crys. Can you recommend a blend to help her?

    1. Hi Jo, you could make a light blend with lavender, chamomile and Ylang Ylang. For a 100 ml bottle, you would add 95ml of carrier oil such as olive oil (must be safe for dogs) and 1 drop of each oil. You could put a few drops on her bed/pillow or cotton ball and let her sniff it. It should help her settle down.
      Alternatively, you could diffuse a heavier blend – 80ml carrier oil and 5 drops of each oil – as long as you don’t have resident cats in your house. Cheers, Cassie

  2. Hi, I have an 11 year old husky with osteoarthritis. How do you recommend to apply the oils? She has so many hair it is difficult to get to her skin. I would really appreciate your help.

    1. Hi there, yes dogs with thick and long hair can be a problem. You could dilute the essential oils in floral water with a bit of carrier oil in a spray bottle so the liquid thin enough to penetrate the hair when you spray it, and then rub it in. It would be easier than just carrier oil. You will need to shake the bottle well prior to spraying as oil and water don’t mix. You can also add few drops of vodka to help the water mix with the oils.
      If this doesn’t work, you might need to cut or shave her hair on the affected areas, but it wouldn’t be the best solution as the areas would get cold and she doesn’t need this.
      Let me know how you go with the first option

  3. Marlene Hunter

    I have a 13 year old German Shepherd with degenerative myelopathy. I read in a very old herbal book by Juliette de Baïracli Levy, that many, many years ago, a person was cured of paralysis by a woman known as the “Camomile Witch”, who massaged this person with Camomile Oil. I wondered if you have a suggestion as to which oils, including Camomile Oil, may help my dog, and exactly how they should be used. I am aware that there is no cure for this condition currently, but I am willing to try anything.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Marlene,
      thank you for your question. I am very sorry to hear that your dog has this illness. Degenerative myelopathy is the degeneration of the spinal cord and eventually the brain stops controlling the limbs because the connectors are not present anymore. I would use essential oils that will help your friend to feel comfortable. German camomile, lavender, valerian are analgesic and anti-inflammatory. I would definitely add some Hyssop too as it will be good for his immune and nervous systems.
      You can do a spray with the essential oils you choose, some floral water like lavender, a dash of vodka to help the lot dissolve, and some coconut oil or flaxseed oil. This way it won’t be too oily and it’s easy to apply. Of course you can still do a massage oil and massage him daily. You would need to do it twice/day. As for dilution, I’d stay in the lower range, like no more than 30 drops for 100ml bottle. Let me know how you go and how it helps him.
      Thank you

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