Introduction to Using Essential Oil for Animals

What is Essential Oil?

Essential oils are aromatic, naturally occurring chemical components of plants that are usually extracted by distillation. Thorough lab testing of these chemical constituents has led to an understanding of their benefits, and in recent years, interest in therapeutically blended essential oils for animals has increased.

Every batch of a medical drug must by law be identical to the batch that preceded it. Plants, on the other hand, adapt and change with the tiniest variable in their environment, for example, a change in the water supply. So essential oils, created from ever-adapting plants, never reach a point where pathogens become resistant to them. They stay at least one step ahead – which makes them much smarter than anything we can create in a laboratory.”


The Benefits of Essential Oil

Essential oil is one of my favorite treatment method and here are a few reasons why:

  • it works on physical level to easy the physical symptoms

  • it affects the animals at the cellular level

  • it works on the emotional and psychologic level

  • it helps behavior modification

Their uses include blends for increasing appetite; boosting the immune system; combating fatigue; and dealing with puppy teething, ear cleaning, bad breath, colds and congestion, separation anxiety, and many more. Application methods range from soaps and shampoos to salves and sprays.

Most essential oils have been found to confer benefits of one kind or another—among them, anti-infectious (antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial), sedative, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), immunostimulant and expectorant.

Using Essential Oil For Your Animal Companion

One of the expert vets in using essential oil, Dr. Melissa Shelton, DVM, stated she was cautious when she first introduced essential oil for her pet cats. She watched them closely and she did countless blood and urine test to make sure the cats stayed healthy and that there was no toxicity caused by the oils. Over time she felt confident of using essential oil for pets and now she has been using this modality in her practice for many years.

In a survey sent to members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, 15 respondents reported significant use of essential oil in their practices, and in quite disparate ways (Keith, Elizabeth Rowan. 2010. “Essential Oil Use in Canine Veterinary Medicine.” Dissertation, South Dakota State University (click here for the abstract).

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I am aware that there is some controversy in using essential oil for animals, especially for cats. Some complications have been reported as well, but we cannot conclude that essential oil is dangerous without knowing the details of the oils used, especially when there are research which state that essential oil causes significant health change in animals. There are many factors that can cause problems from essential oil usage, some very common ones are the quality of the oil and the amount of the oil applied. Make sure you only pick medical grade oil and use only a small amount diluted in carrier oil because animal’s sense of smelling is more sensitive than human’s.

Using cheap but poor grade essential oil will likely cause more health problems than curing the animals. Just like any other health related products, you want to pick one which has the best quality for the best result and if any problem occurs it is fair to say that the brand is not of the best ones. For example: canned food. If your pet becomes sick to a poor quality canned pet food, we cannot outlaw all canned food , but we have to find better quality.

For essential oil, make sure you pick a brand that has medical-grade oils, because you want to use the oils for medicating your pets. Otherwise, non medical grade oils may not show any health improvement when used for your pets. As another general rule of thumb: find information about the essential oils and animals from a reputable source.

Upcoming next: DOs and DONTs when applying essential oil for your pets.

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A Very Simple Enrichment for Your Pets

What is enrichment?

Enrichment is something to keep the animals occupied for a while and chase the boredom away. Usually it involves treats to attract animals’ attention but enrichment could be anything as long as it stimulates the animal’s sensory organs and can keep them busy with the enrichment.

The simplest way to explain is: enrichment = toy.

Examples of common enrichments are scratch board for cats, toys, balls, Frisbees for dogs, water sprinkler, kong toys, and many more, bones. While some of you may think pet’s toys are expensive, you can make simple enrichment with very basic household equipment. One of my favorite enrichment is essential oil.

There are a lot of essential oil brands out there, some with good quality, which is of course pricey, while some cheaper brands only offer fragrance oil instead of essential oil. A good essential oil brand doesn’t add chemicals to enhance the fragrance. A truck of herbs or flowers may only result in/only yield/only produce a few drops or a few milliliters of pure essential oil, that’s why they are expensive.

Here are some reasons why essential oil can be a good enrichment for your pets:

  1. Your pet’s olfactory organ, especially dog’s, is better than any other sensory organs (sight, hearing, taste, touch). They are very observant with various smells surrounding them. You only need a drop or two of essential oil to make them busy for a while until the oil evaporates and the smell is gone.
  2. Essential oil is natural. A real essential oil is made of pure natural substance, such as flowers and leaves. When used correctly/when using the correct oil safely, a drop of essential oil is much better than a pack of chemical-loaded snack or plastic toys.
  3. Animals have amazing natural instinct. If the oil is dangerous for them, they might not like it. Always check with your veterinarian before giving an oil that you’re not familiar with. If you are not sure you can ask me for advice.
  4. If used regularly it can calm them down when they smell the oil. It can resolve ‘home sick’ problem (or master sick, in this case) when you are away from them
  5. You can use the oil for other purposes. For example, eucalyptus can be used as disinfectant; lemongrass can be used as insect (and external parasite) repellent; lavender is good to treat skin problem and to calm the nerves down; lemon oil can be used for cooking and making drinks; peppermint can soothes itchy skin and has energizing property.

Check the video of essential oil enrichment that I gave to Rambo the leopard at our rescue center. A few drops of various essential oils around his enclosure kept him busy for the whole afternoon!

Tips: Experiment with different smell and make note of which smells your pets like. The effect is similar to catnip effect in cats.

Always check your essential oil before giving them to your pets! Your pets may be allergic to it. Some oil can be dangerous for specific animals. If you are not sure you can contact me for free consultation.