The use of aromatherapy has become widespread for the treatment of a variety of ailments, and many loving pet owners who have found good results from the use of essential oils for themselves have considered using similar products on their pets.
Unfortunately, essential oils that are safe for human use are not always safe for family pets–even if they are “all-natural.” Many essential oils promise to reduce your pet’s anxiety, help them battle toxins or aid them in fighting infections; however, used incorrectly, essential oils can do much more harm than good. Before trying out any essential oils on your pet, consider the potential risks very carefully–and always check with your veterinarian before introducing essential oils to your pet.
Essential Oil Use and Dogs
Of all common pets, dogs have the lowest risk of adverse effects from the use of essential oils. Caution should still be exercised when introducing any essential oils to your dog, however; certain essential oils such as thyme, tea tree, clove, cinnamon and oregano have known dangers associated with their use with dogs, so be certain to do your own research and ask your veterinarian before trying any new essential oil.
Even if your veterinarian has approved its use, take your cue from your four-legged friend and avoid the use of any oil that your dog shies away from. Your dog’s superior sense of smell means that standard essential oil concentrations can be too strong for them; always dilute the oil. Most importantly, make sure that your dog does not ingest any essential oil as even those oils that are safe for use with dogs can become dangerous when taken internally.
Essential Oil Use and Cats
Unlike with dogs, any use of essential oils can be extremely hazardous to your cat’s health. Cats do not have a key liver enzyme, glucuronosyltransferase, that is needed to break down the components of many essential oils. Without this enzyme, these components can reach toxic levels in your cat surprisingly rapidly. For this reason, essential oils should never be applied topically to a cat. The use of essential oils in the air is somewhat less dangerous; however, be certain that your cat has access to a room with fresh air where they can get away from the oil if needed.
Essential Oil Use and Birds
Birds, like cats, are extremely sensitive to all essential oils. Their size and natural composition leaves them vulnerable to many types of chemicals, and the fact that essential oils are natural doesn’t mean that they are any safer to use around your bird than cleaning products would be. The most conservative approach is to avoid exposing your bird to any oil, either topically or through the air. Be particularly careful with tea tree oil. This essential oil is often used to treat minor wounds in humans, but its use on birds–even in highly diluted form–can be fatal.
With any other type of pet–from horses to mice–speaking with Cypress Animal Clinic before using any essential oils is always the safest plan. Careful use of essential oils might help your pet; however, in conjunction with your veterinarian, you must decide if the potential benefits of essential oil use outweigh their hidden dangers for your pet.