Safe Use of Essential Oils for Pets: A Guide and Recipes

Cats and dogs are much more sensitive to scents than humans. What you may think of as an unsaturated, mild scent may be too concentrated for the animal and its body cannot process it because it lacks the necessary enzymes to do so. We will take a brief look at how safe essential oils are for our pets.

Essential oils are highly concentrated and rich in active natural substances. They are rapidly absorbed both through the mouth and nose and through the skin and are then metabolized in the liver. Used incorrectly, they can also lead to behavioral changes, adverse effects on the central nervous system, and respiratory problems. Pets with respiratory problems or hypersensitivity are most at risk. At the same time, in accordance with the recommendations of specialists for concentration, essential oils can be of help to calm down hyperactivity or stress, as well as a means against fleas and ticks, etc.

Which essential oils to avoid applying on your dogs and cats

According to the Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA), cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils by contact with their fur or by scent alone compared to dogs. The reason is that they lack certain enzymes in their liver that prevent them from metabolizing them and ridding their bodies of certain toxins. In addition, some essential oils contain phenols and phenolic compounds to which cats are highly sensitive. The higher the concentration of the essential oil, the greater the risk to the cat.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the most common dangerous essential oils according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for cats and dogs, respectively. On the ASPCA page you will find a complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants for animals.

Some essential oils toxic to cats:

Cinnamon

Citrus oils

Carnation

Eucalyptus

Sweet birch

Mint

Pine

Tea tree

Ylang Ylang

Swamp mint

Oregano

Thyme

Wintergreen

Some of the essential oils toxic to dogs:

Pine

Tea tree

Cinnamon

Citrus oils

Mint

Swamp mint

Sweet birch

Wintergreen

Ylang Ylang

Anise

Clove

Thyme

Juniper

If you are concerned that your pet has been exposed, observe them for symptoms.

Most common symptoms of essential oil poisoning:

  • watery nose or eyes;
  • redness of the mouth, gums, or skin;
  • vomiting and salivation;
  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; cough or wheezing;
  • lethargy, tremors, or unsteadiness;
  • low heart rate;
  • low body temperature.

If you see one or more of these symptoms, we recommend consulting a veterinarian.

General safety guidelines

Use 100% natural, bio-certified essential oils without artificial additives.

Avoid applying essential oils to your pet’s sensitive areas – eyes, ears, nose, and genitals.

With all animals, avoid using oils with high phenolic content – such as oregano, wintergreen, clove, mountain savory, and thyme. This is especially important for cats.

Apply only externally diluted essential oils in a carrier oil in a concentration appropriate to the size of the animal.

Avoid using essential oils on birds. Birds’ respiratory tracts are very sensitive and can develop more serious problems if treated with essential oils, including when dispersed into the air by diffusion. The application of essential oils in any form is also not recommended for rabbits, hamsters, or hedgehogs.

Avoid adding essential oils to your pet’s food or treats – it is not recommended.

Avoid using essential oils in dogs and cats with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and liver problems. With animals of great age, pregnant, lactating, and babies under 8 months is also not recommended, except on the recommendation of a specialist.

Scented liquids may attract your dog or cat, so keep them out of their reach.

Using a diffuser at home

Using a diffuser to diffuse essential oil into the air for a short period of time in a protected area – one that your dog or cat cannot access – is safe. However, if the pet has chronic breathing problems, it may be best to avoid using one altogether.

If you are diffusing essential oils into the air in an area that cats and dogs have access to, always allow them to retreat to a ventilated area if they are uncomfortable. Start with 1-2 drops of the oil in the diffuser for a short period of time and observe if pets show intolerance.

Topical use

The size of your animal affects the amount of oil you should use and how much you should dilute for topical application. Do not use essential oils on or around cats or dogs under 8 weeks of age, as they develop at a rapid rate and the correct dilution for each breed can be confused.

Always use a carrier oil to dilute essential oils. Learn more about carrier oils in the article > Why plant-based carrier oils are important.

Specialists recommend the following ratio of essential oil to base oil:

For dogs under 10 kg. – 1 drop of essential oil per 85 – 100 drops of base oil
For dogs over 10 kg. – 1 drop of essential oil per 50 drops of carrier oil

Unless prescribed by a veterinarian, it is not advisable to use essential oils daily.

For easy and convenient application, rub the already diluted essential oil between your hands and then apply by stroking the animal.

Observe your pet’s reactions to see if he ingests the oil or shows signs of irritation.

For cats, some specialists recommend completely avoiding the topical application of essential oils and instead applying suitable floral waters – such as Chamomile, Salvia Sclarea, and Zdravetz water. They contain essential oil from the plant from which they are distilled, but the concentration is less, making them safer to use.

Learn more about floral waters in the article > Priceless floral waters – affordable and fresh organic skin care.

Local application in dogs is suitable for treatment and prevention against fleas and ticks, for providing first aid (bruises, sprains, small injuries), for arthritis, skin problems.

Essential oil recipes for pets

#1 Natural shampoo for dogs and cats

1 cup of water

1 tbsp. spoon of liquid castile soap

3 drops of Zdravets essential oil

2 drops of Chamomile essential oil

Mix all components in a glass bottle with a lid and shake well.

#2 Odor-neutralizing spray for dogs and cats

100 ml of floral water Salvia sclarea

5 drops of Zdravets essential oil

Spray on your pet’s fur and bedding.

#3 Dry shampoo for dogs

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp cornstarch

3 drops of Zdravets essential oil

3 drops of Lavender essential oil

In a glass jar with a lid, mix the baking soda and starch and add the essential oils. Shake well and apply a small amount of the powder with your hand. Avoid the areas around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Leave on for 5 minutes and remove the powder with a soft brush.

#4 Oil repellent for dogs

2 tbsp. liquid plant oil (almond, for example)

1 drop of Lavender essential oil

1 drop of Zdravetz essential oil

Mix the ingredients well. Pour a small amount of the mixture on your hands and spread it over the dog’s fur. Apply once every 24 hours as needed, but not for an extended period of time.

Suitable essential oils and floral waters

Lavender essential oil

Effectively repels insects and at the same time has antiseptic and soothing properties. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and relieves skin irritation. Accelerates healing processes thanks to the active ingredient – linalool with natural bactericidal and disinfecting properties. Not recommended for cats.

Lavender floral water

For deodorization, protection against fleas and calming for hyperactivity and nervousness. Relieves itchy skin in dogs and cats.

Chamomile essential oil

It has a calming, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating effect. Thanks to its powerful antiseptic action, it relieves inflammation from insect bites and stings. Soothes the itching and redness of the reduced areas.

Chamomile floral water

It has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Soothes irritated and inflamed skin, disinfects and dries the skin.

Zdravetz essential oil

It has powerful anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, insecticidal and neuroprotective properties. It acts as an antioxidant and improves cell regeneration. The azulene in the composition of the oil is also anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and soothing. It has a UV factor and is a natural repellent.

Floral water from Zdravetz

Zdravetz floral water has a regenerating and soothing effect thanks to the active component – azulene .

Salvia sclarea essential oil

It has an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-edema effect. Soothes nervous tension and stress. It has pronounced deodorizing properties.

Salvia sclarea floral water

The aroma has a pronounced anti-stress, calming effect. It has a pronounced hydrating and regenerating effect. Neutralizes unpleasant odors.

In case you have any questions about the products and how to use them – we will be happy to answer at hello@ecomaat.eu  or on our FB page.