5 Questions to Safely Use Essential Oils With Pets

We first brought therapeutic essential oils into our home in 2013 (Peppermint for nausea, Lavender for sleep, etc.). Our dogs (Finny and Bella) were 3 and 1 at the time. We would create nightly blends of essential oils for our diffuser and used a log book to track which blends were worth trying a second time. We experimented as much as we could, read heavily, and attended schools of aromatherapy in 2015 and 2016 so we could create more effective blends and better products.

The more we learned, the more we realized that essential oils can become overwhelming for new and even experienced users. There is a LOT of content out there, and not only that, each oil can be exceptionally detailed. Traditional Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) can consist of up to 61 different chemical constituents, and the ratios are influenced by season, location, climate, processing, storage, and more.

We wanted to make it easier for you to assess your individual safety needs, so have created a 5-question framework that will allow you to do that! Use the following questions to assess the pet safety of any active essential oil household; 

    Can your pet metabolize essential oils? 

    • This may sound complicated, but just remember that some animals have different liver enzymes than others, allowing or not allowing for metabolic breakdown of essential oils. We adapted the following cheat sheet from Holistic Aromatherapy and Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell on the subject;
    • No; Cats, lizards, birds, fish, small mammals (rabbits) and rodents cannot metabolize essential oils
      • DO NOT directly expose the animal through topical application or diffusion in a restricted airspace. 
    • Yes; Dogs, horses, cows, sheep, goats and large mammals can react very positively to essential oils, but introduce slowly and trust their lead. Never force oils on to an animal or through a muzzle.

    If applying topically or setting up your diffuser, can your pet lick the spot? 

    • No; You’re good to go!
    • Yes; Move the diffuser or try to apply topically on the base of the neck (think tick medication application) 

    Can your pet move freely?

    • No; If your pet is in a controlled environment (cage, tank, etc.) and cannot move, then set up your diffuser on the opposite side of the room, use 2 drops per 100 sq ft of room space, and leave a door or window open.
    • Yes; Leave a door open to allow the pet to come and go as they please.

    Can your pet access your essential oils?

    • No; if the spot is also consistently cool, out of light and out of reach of young children, they are in a great storage spot!
    • Yes; continue moving your collection until you can answer No.

      Have you searched for contraindications?

      • No; open up your favourite search engine and enter “contraindications for (    insert name of oil    ) essential oil and (    insert pet type    )”.
      • Yes; way to complete your research on the subject! 

          We hope this framework has allowed you to feel more comfortable and confident in your essential oil use around your home. If you are left with questions unanswered by this framework, comment below and let’s find the information you need! If looking to use essential oils for health benefits for your pets, please reach out to your vet to ensure that they will be a good fit for your pet’s health and wellness.