Essential oils can promote feelings of peace and calm for humans, creating a pleasant atmosphere in our homes and workplaces. But many wonder if we can provide the same type of feelings to our furry friends. Fortunately, some essential oils are safe for pets and can help alleviate common problems like odors and insects as well as encourage relaxation.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?
Yes and no. There are dozens of essential oils that are safe for pets that you can use, but others are toxic to different animals so it’s important to educate yourself on which essential oils can be used for your pets. Although there are safe essential oils for pets, you should never intentionally let your animals ingest these oils or apply directly to their skin undiluted. A few essential oils can be applied topically to horses or dogs, but must always be diluted first with carrier oils before application. Essential oils can be diffused in a room to allow you and your pets to experience the benefits. Because animals have a heightened sense of smell, you must dilute the oils before using them for your pets.
Essential Oils Uses for Pets
Though our pets are friendly companions that share our home, explore the outdoors with us and cuddle on the couch at night, there are some downsides to owning pets. Dog and cat owners often complain about animal odors that may linger around the house as a result of owning an animal. Like humans, all dogs possess their own specific scent as a result of sweating from their paws, light perspiration from their hair follicles and other normal body smells. Regularly bathing your dog can help to reduce the odor, but this smell often clings to areas of the house like the couch and carpet.
Essential oils can help diminish this unpleasant scent and create a refreshing, welcoming smell throughout your home. The best way to incorporate essential oils and pets into your home for this purpose is by first identifying areas of your living space where you notice animal odor to be particularly noticeable. Then, incorporate essential oil diffusers near these areas and fill with oils that are approved to be used around dogs.
The beauty of using an essential oil diffuser is that you can create your own blends for a unique smell. Follow Plant Therapy’s Pup & Pony diffusion guidelines to determine the amount of oil to use and how long to diffuse. Generally, we recommend allowing the scent to spread throughout the room for about 10 to 15 minutes every few hours.
Aside from removing pet odors, essential oils can be used to repel or eliminate pests as well as stimulate feelings of tranquility. When it comes to essential oils and pets, dogs and horses are the two most common animals that oils are used with. It is not recommended to use essential oils with or around cats, birds, reptiles or rodents.
Common Pet Issues
As mentioned, animal odor is one of the most common pet issues that owners use essential oils to overcome. However, fleas and other bug problems can sometimes be managed with essential oils. Other common problems that pet owners experience include uncontrolled urination, nervousness or skittish behavior and muscle spasms or stiffness in horses. Not all animals have adverse reactions to the same oils, so before using essential oils on pets, you should be sure to familiarize yourself with oils safe for that specific species and common uses for each.
Essential Oils for Dogs
Dog owners tend to have a very special connection with their pet, bringing their canine friend along with them on vacation, to the beach or just for a car ride. Because we are often so close to our animals, we may forget that their bodies do not necessarily respond to things in the same way that we do. Essential oils have a myriad of uses for humans and can be used topically or through diffusion, but dogs are very different.
Should you decide to try using these oils for dogs, be aware that essential oils are potentially toxic to canines: Tea Tree, Sweet Birch, Cinnamon, Garlic, Thyme, Clove, Juniper and Yarrow. Still, toxicity is not limited to these oils. If your dog has a diagnosed medical condition or takes medications, please speak with a veterinarian before trying these oils for the first time.
Essential Oils and Common Dog Issues
Before using essential oils with pets, please keep in mind that an animal’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours so some essential oils scents can be overpowering and irritating. For this reason, you absolutely must dilute your oils before exposing your pets to them. Inhaling an essential oil’s fragrance is typically all an animal needs for the oil to produce a result, so do not let your animal intentionally ingest these oils and do not apply them topically undiluted. Our Paw Pal Diffuser is a perfect way to passively diffuse oils around your pet.
Essential oils that are safe for dogs can help with a variety of issues such as dog odor throughout your house and car, indoor urination and insect problems. Using a diffuser inside near areas where animal odor is strong will help reduce the smell. Eucalyptus oil can help eliminate the smell of urine. As for insects, there are many essential oil blends that people use to repel insects, though these blends do not kill insects. These blends are best used in tandem with a medical solution from your vet.
Essential Oils and Common Dog Conditions
While essential oils can be used for odor-related problems, there are some additional common conditions that dogs experience which may be improved through the use of essential oils. Many dogs experience feelings of nervousness or tension when traveling, during thunderstorms or when interacting with other dogs. If you have a rescue dog, he or she may be more prone to these feelings because of negative past experiences with other owners.
Lavender and Chamomile are two essential oils safe for dogs that are highly praised for the ability to promote a calm state of mind. Blend these two oils together and dilute or try using them separately and let your dog have a few sniffs before a long trip to help them feel calmer and more relaxed. Don’t ever force essential oils. Allow your dog to get closer and smell the blend if they’re interested.
Using Specific Essential Oils with Dogs
One of the most commonly used essential oils, lavender is safe for dogs and can offer a plethora of benefits. Lavender can help with animal odor and work as an insect repellent. Lavender essential oil is also known to promote a sense of peace and security in both humans and dogs. Our Show Ready essential oil blend, which contains lavender oil, was created specifically to support good health in dogs and horses, especially when traveling.
Chamomile promotes similar effects as lavender when used around dogs. Some people suggest mixing Chamomile and Lavender with aloe vera jelly, dog-safe soap and other safe essential oils to create a homemade dog shampoo that will keep your canine smelling good and free of dirt. Chamomile is also known to lessen the effects of minor skin irritation and encourages a healthy-looking coat.
Spearmint oil is a common essential oil used to deter insects and can help to support a healthy digestive system. Though some people suggest avoiding spearmint with dogs, it is safe for canines as long as it has been properly diluted and only used in very small doses.
Eucalyptus oil has a long list of uses for dogs–from bug repellent and deodorizer to reducing the effects of some skin irritations and promoting a nice coat.
Rosemary oil is often used in blends created to discourage fleas and other insects. For these types of repellents, you should not directly apply oils to your dog’s fur. Instead, dilute and blend oils to create soap or shampoo that can be used to keep your dog clean and pest-free.
Essential Oils for Horses
Although horses are much larger animals than dogs, they are still sensitive to particular essential oils. You should be well aware of which essential oils are safe with horses and which to avoid. Many horse owners tell of the benefits they’ve seen with using essential oils for horses–from a heightened sense of security and calm to diminished effects of skin irritation. However, you still need to properly dilute the solution before using it in any manner.
Essential Oils and Common Horse Issues
Horses can also possess an animal odor much like your dog or cat, but this is usually not as big of an issue for horse owners because their animal is not a household pet. Instead, essential oils are usually used to discourage insects from bothering horses and soothe the effects of minor skin irritations.
Because horses are large and powerful animals that are often used as a mode of transportation, they will experience issues later in life such as muscle tension and joint stiffness. Using essential oils with your horse may help ease some of this tension.
Essential Oils and Common Horse Conditions
Much like dogs–and humans–horses can experience feelings of nervousness or restlessness, which can also cause problems with sleep. Many essential oils safe for horses possess relaxing properties that can promote feelings of calm and fight occasional nervous tensions. Our Horse Whisperer essential oil blend was formulated to support horses through emotional distress and promote general ease. Horses also tend to experience issues with their hooves throughout their lives and using essential oils in this area may reduce discomfort.
Using Specific Essential Oils with Horses
Lavender: Because lavender is such a popular essential oil, it should be mentioned again as a reminder that this oil is safe for horses and can encourage feelings of relaxation. Horses can become easily startled by a new person or experience that is not part of their everyday routine, so using lavender in these instances may ease their experience.
Using clary sage with horses can be helpful to lessen feelings of tension and soreness, which horses often experience because of their regular physical activity.
Bergamot can promote feelings of calm in horses as well as lessen the effects of minor skin irritations.
Essential Oils and Horses that Compete
Many horse owners compete with their animals in horse shows. These large and beautiful animals require regular physical activity because they are designed to be athletic creatures. However, strenuous activities like horse shows can put a strain on horses over time, leading to aches and pains. Many people who compete with horses will use essential oils to reduce nervous tensions, lessen muscle aches and promote feelings of relaxation. Our Show Ready blend is perfect to use when traveling for these stressful competitions.
Essential Oils and Pet Safety
Essential oils can be safe for your pets if used properly. If you’re interested in trying aromatherapy for animals, please talk to your vet beforehand to ensure that you are not exposing your pets to toxic oils and study up on proper handling methods.
Want to learn more?
Check out this interview with Emilee Hughes, the Aromatherapist behind our Pup&Pony line!