We love our fur babies! For many Aussies and Kiwis, our pets are part of our family. Is it safe to use Essential Oils around our pets? Can Aromatherapy actually be helpful for cats and dogs?
We often get enquiries from customers asking if Essential Oils are safe to use around pets. We do not have an official position on this. There are no cautions or regulations from the TGA on this matter, and there is a lot of conflicting information to be found on various online sites. It’s therefore difficult to produce a perfect set of safety precautions.
However, there is some reliable information on the safe use of Aromatherapy with pets and to help make sense of it, we asked two of our resident experts, Tricia Granata and Renae Cooper, to share their research and experiences. Collaboratively, Tricia and Renae have compiled the following information which you may find useful. Please note, LeRêve does not take an absolute position on this and always encourages our customers to err on the side of caution when experimenting with something new.
The Differences Between Cats & Dogs
Let’s start with the obvious ones… Cats are more independent and less demanding of their owners. Dogs are more affectionate and obedient but require more attention and exercise. We love both!
There is a metabolism difference between cats and dogs which is an important part of this discussion. Cats don’t have the liver enzyme to metabolise Essential Oils. This means we need to take more precautions with cats than dogs when it comes to using Aromatherapy.
Diffusing is generally safe for dogs but think of them as children! Use lower doses than you would for an adult human being. Fewer drops in the Ultrasonic Diffuser and always dilute for topical use. If you use too many drops, it can adversely affect your canine. Less is best! You would normally only use a maximum of 10 drops in your Diffuser for a large room or 4 to 5 drops in a bedroom.
For cats be extra cautious and do give them a break from diffusing. Practise one hour on, then a half hour break, then clear the room by putting a fan on or opening a window.
Also ensure that your dog or cat can easily leave the room. Don’t lock them in a room with a Diffuser running.
Remember that diffusing without Essential Oils (just water) allows the other functions of the Ultrasonic Diffuser to work (air purification & ionisation). This leads to healthier air.
Another option, especially for dogs, is to let them smell directly from the bottle (due to their excellent sense of smell, they can smell it even when the lid is on)! Let them choose what Essential Oil they need or want. Don’t force it on them; allow them to guide you about what smells are too intense and what they enjoy.
Dogs have a staggering 278 million sensory receptors, so they can smell things we can’t! It’s interesting that Rose Pure Essential Oil can reduce adrenaline levels in your dog by up to 30%. Rub a few drops of Rose between your palms and let them sniff to help dogs cope with stressful situations.
There are great differences between humans and pets. Human epidermis skin has 6 to 8 cells thickness, with maximum of 30 cells for palms & feet. Most other animals have thinner skin.
For dogs, dilution is important. Use 1% dilution, that is one drop Essential Oil per 5mL of carrier oil base. LeRêve Baby Care Bath & Body Oil is ideal because it’s already diluted and ready for use on dogs suffering skin irritations.
For cats, NEVER use Essential Oils topically. Remember they can’t metabolise Essential Oils so you must be careful to protect their liver. Because they like to lick themselves, you must never put Oils on their skin or fur.
While we’re on the subject of liver protection, NEVER add Essential Oils to your pet’s food or water – this goes for dogs, cats, horses, goldfish… any animal! Everything taken orally goes via the liver and Essential Oils are too potent.
Tea Tree in high doses (First Aid, Winter Wellness Blends)
Ylang Ylang in high doses (Love Story Blend)
Ylang Ylang, which some Aromatherapy sites say isn’t suitable for dogs, is used by the famous Caroline Ingraham, the founder of Applied Zoopharmacognosy. She found Ylang Ylang was the preferred Essential Oil for epilepsy inhalation selection. Plus, emotionally it was used for bullying, self-worth, lack of confidence and male over-dominant behaviour. Frankincense and Vetiver Oils are a good alternative option.
Kymberly Keniston-Pond (2017) “Essential Oils 101 – Your Guide to Understanding and Using Essential Oils”.
Chrissie Wildwood (1996) “The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy” Healing Arts Press.
My Personal Experience by Renae Cooper
Renae is an Agricultural Scientist, animal lover and a foster carer for animals. Her pets are central to her life and part of her heart. She always greets her fur-babies first and asks them how their day has been, giving lots of affection and love.
We have 5 dogs and 5 cats plus a blue tongue lizard and fishy. At times we have young foster rescue puppies too. So we have to be careful what we use around our sensitive pets.
I have been using Aromatherapy for over 20 years, and over 10 years with LeRêve. My 19-year-old cat used to curl up to my Aromatherapy oil box to sleep!
I use Stress-less Blend on my 11-year-old English staffy for anxiety. I put 1 to 2 drops onto his thick cotton collar so he can inhale but not have skin contact with the Essential Oil. We also diffuse this Blend in the main lounge room most days. We sometimes use Breathe Easy or Feel Good Blend. Not only does my staffy calm down, relax and play, but all the cats and dogs seem more relaxed too. This is a very open area and we only use 3-4 drops so it is diluted to child’s dosage.
We also use Baby Care Bath and Body oil on my 9-year-old Great Danes on dry patches on their heels and foot pads, plus for belly rubs when there’s a slight rash from allergies. They find this very soothing and relaxing plus it gives relief.
At night-time we have the Luna Diffuser going all night with either Breathe Easy or Sweet Sleep, using no more than 3 drops. We have 2-3 dogs plus 2-3 cats that will come into our room at night to sleep. We leave the door ajar so they can leave at any time but they choose to stay.
I do have a particular cat who loves Spearmint Oil, so when I use our Intuitive and Wise Roll On, I have to be careful as she wants to lick it off. Most cats will not go towards Peppermint or Spearmint as it’s too strong a scent. In fact, some experts advise using these Oils as a deterrent for cats – but it doesn’t deter my feline friend!