Animals and Aromatherapy: How to Safely Use Essential Oils Around Pets
This content was updated for accuracy and relevance on January 25th, 2022
Our favorite friends to give gifts to are often times our furry ones! Whether it’s a treat, a toy or just walking through the front door, our pets are always generous receivers. And while we may love sharing the goodness of essential oils with all those who cross our path, your four-legged friends will thank you for not always sharing essential oils with them.
Essential oils have become a staple in natural remedies, and while we always want what’s best for our pets, essential oils can do more harm than good if they're not used properly. For example, it’s not hard to tell from the outside that animals are different than humans. But just as all people have different medical histories, allergies, health needs, etc., so do animals. And what works for one animal, may not work for another.
They also have a unique physiology, and cannot metabolize most essential oils as we can. Especially when you consider that the average adult is a lot larger than the average pet – therefore, pets can be much more sensitive to a human's dosage of essential oils. If you have pets in your home, we suggest speaking with their veterinarian before using essential oils on or around them.
We see so many blog posts and articles online that champion essential oils as natural remedies for pets with issues ranging from ticks to bladder problems. But we rarely see these articles backed by scientific studies or animal aromatherapists. While they may not necessarily be wrong, they could be wrong for your animals.
Another example would be using the same EO recipe on a small Boston Terrier and a large Great Dane. This is why if you are considering using any oils on your pets we strongly suggest working with a veterinarian.
The most important thing we want to stress is that your pets do not have a voice and cannot tell you when something is hurting them. A major sign to watch out for would be behavioral differences, such as whining, scratching or acting loopy. These types of signs are a red flag and a prime reason to stop using EOs around them.
Exploring Safety Further
But not all hope is lost when it comes to using essential oils to help your beloved pals. With proper use, and under the supervision of a certified animal aromatherapist, essential oils can be beneficial to animals. For more information on animal aromatherapy, we recommend picking a copy of Kristen Leigh Bell’s book Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals or joining an animal aromatherapy Facebook group like Kelly Holland Azzaro's Animal Aromatherapy (Safe Use).
Finally, Here Are Some Guidelines on Using EOs on Pets
Do not use essential oils with the following:
- Fish and reptiles (due to their pH levels and aquatic environments)
- Birds (due to their respiratory and metabolic systems)
- Pet rodents and small mammals (gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, rats etc.) (There is not enough research on this topic, other than actual animal-testing and research results gained for knowledge use with humans).
- Azzaro, Kelly Holland. Animal Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Safety. N.p.: Ashi Aromatics Inc, 2013. PDF.