How to use essential oils for dogs & cats! Read all the Do's & Don'ts!

Essential oils have been used for the longest time as a natural medicine to treat various ailments. Essential oils can provide amazing health benefits for humans, and can offer the same benefits to our beloved pets.

However, essential oil blends that are safe for humans, may not always produce the same effect in our pets. Some of these essential oils are actually TOXIC and therefore considered UNSAFE for dogs or cats! Let’s take a look at the DO’s and DON’TS of essential oils for pets.

About essential oils

Essential oils contain powerful compounds which when used correctly can have positive effects on health. They can be used to treat a variety of conditions in pets ranging from anxiety, stress, wound care, flea infestations, ear mite infestations, upper respiratory problems, arthritis, motion sickness and much more.

Do’s of essential oils

1. Applying essential oils
Essential oils are absorbed by inhalation and contact with the skin. Never use essential oils orally or give them to your pet to swallow. This can be very dangerous! Essential oils can be applied by putting  a tiny drop on pet beds or collars or sprayed onto their fur. They can also be applied directly onto the body – dab onto your pooch’s ears, spine or paw pads.

2. Always use therapeutic grade oils
When you buy essential oils, make sure that you are buying therapeutic grade oils from a reputable company. It is always best to check that you are using an essential oil of good quality. The reason for this is that some essential oils contain contaminates and when released, can lead to more serious health issues.

Because essential oils are very precious and expensive to extract (which is why a little goes such a long way!) some companies dilute them with synthetic substances which can reduce their health benefits.

3. Make sure that essential oils are highly diluted
Keep in mind that only small amounts of essential oils are needed to produce desirable effects for pets. Their sense of smell is quite sensitive and that’s why vets recommend that oils are highly diluted before used – use carrier oils such as olive oil, coconut or grape seed oil.

For instance, one drop of essential oil diluted in 50 drops of a pure base or carrier oil such as grape seed oil is generally enough to use for pets. If your pet doesn’t like it, don’t force him to like it. Evidence has shown that cats in particular are at risk as essential oils can be toxic to them. In most cases, these oils are used sparingly on our feline friends.

4. Safe oils to use

  • Lavender

Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils used by humans and also for their pets.  This is a must-have oil for your pet first aid kit – it is an excellent antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial remedy for dogs. Known for its calming and soothing properties, lavender is used to clean and disinfect wounds as well as burns. Its soothing scent helps to calm stressed pooches when travelling and also acts as a mild sedative to make them feel sleepy.

Dogs that are anxious or nervous will also benefit from using lavender. It’s safe enough to diffuse in the room, rub on your dog’s paws and collar and spray on bedding. Itchy dog? No problem! Simply dab a small amount of diluted lavender on dog’s itchy spot for instant relief. 

  • Roman Chamomile

Roman Chamomile is safe for both cats and dogs. If your furry friend is nervous or skittish, a few drops of Roman Chamomile will do the trick to keep him calm and relaxed. While Roman Chamomile is known for its calming effect, it is also known to soothe allergic reactions, skin irritations and burns. It also helps to relieve muscle pain and cramps and is even good for teething pain.

  • Spearmint

Spearmint essential oil works well for digestive upsets such as diarrhea, nausea or colic in pets. Spearmint that is highly diluted will also help kitties with iffy tummies and gastrointestinal problems when used short term. Overweight pets can definitely benefit from a daily dose of spearmint as it is believed to reduce weight and balance the metabolism. 

  • Frankincense

Frankincense essential oil strengthens the immune system of pets. Studies show that it has been effective in the treatment of some cancers and has even reduced tumors.
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -    

Don’ts of essential oils

1. Avoid using oils not suited for a specific pet species
Animals react differently to essential oils. It is very important to know species-specific differences before using oils.

The liver of cats in particular does not metabolize the various compounds in essential oils which can cause toxicity either very quickly or over a longer period of time. This often happens when essential oils are applied internally, externally or inhaled. It’s extremely dangerous and can lead to liver damage or even death.

In fact, because cats are so sensitive to essential oils, it is best to use them for cats only under supervision or when recommended by someone who is knowledgeable about essential oils for cats and the dilution to use. 

2. Overuse of essential oils in your home
Pet owners have a tendency to overuse essential oils in their homes. We, humans enjoy the fragrance of essential oils when they are released from a burner or when a room mist is sprayed. However, our furry friends don’t always enjoy them!

They are sensitive to the smell and when these compounds are emitted, they can cause allergic reactions for both cats and dogs. So if you have dogs or cats at home, go easy on the burner oils and watch out for any negative reactions.

3. Avoid eyes, nose, genital and anus areas when applying essential oils
When applying essential oils on dogs, there are certain areas of the body that must be avoided – these are  the eyes, nose, genital and anus areas when applying essential oils.

Feel free to apply oils to the ears, spine, paw and foot pads. With cats, on the hand, you have to tread very lightly. Their ears are out of bounds and essential oils should never be applied into the ear canal.

4. Never use essential oils on young, old or pregnant pets
Keep essential oils away from puppies and kittens under the age of ten weeks old. Very old dogs and cats as well pregnant animals are also at risk of toxic exposure. As their immune systems are quite fragile when they are so young, old or pregnant, every bit of care should be taken to protect them.

5. Avoid tea tree essential oil
Tea tree oil is a wonderful essential oil with a number of therapeutic uses when applied correctly. However, according to evidence in recent years, tea tree oil has been found to be harmful and toxic to pets when used in improper dilutions and taken orally. Never use tea tree oil undiluted on your dog or cat!

However, there are number of pet products that contain tea tree oil in small amounts (1%:1%) and are generally well tolerated and safe for cats and dogs.

If you are looking for an essential oil alternative for tea tree oil, try niaouli. This essential oil contains antibacterial properties and also acts as an antihistamine – perfect for skin allergies and ear infections. Another must-have for the pet first aid kit!

NB: Please note Feelgood Pets PetAlive stocks a wide range of essential oils from SOIL. – available at the Feelgood Health Shop, Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town (Phone 021 7970193)  

In our own pet range, we also have various remedies containing essential oils in safe dilutions for dogs and cats and these include:
Ear Dr to treat ear infections in both cats and dogs
Vondi's Tick & Flea Pet Shampoo to gently cleanse and wash your dog or cat's skin and also repel fleas and ticks 
Vondi's Diatomaceous Earth, Skin & Coat Tonic and Immunity & Liver Support to treat an infestation of mange in dogs or cats 
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -    


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