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Essential Oils and Animals

Posted 06.15.16 by Karen Gant, DVM

As I am delving into the world of essential oils for myself, I have found many people asking me about use in and on their dogs and cats.  First and foremost let me clarify I am NOT a holistic veterinarian (there are tests and lots of qualifications that go into becoming a true holistic veterinarian). I am just an interested vet wanting to pass along what I have learned to you about essential oils and animals.

essential oils cat dog

This is a very controversial topic in the veterinary world. There have not been many studies on the use of oils and aromatherapy with animals, and dosages/applications  and safety is obscure at best.  Sure, Pinterest is teeming with recipes for ‘essential oil flea and tick prevention’ as well as ‘shampoo’ made with the oils, but beware. Just because one person tried it on their pet does not mean it is safe for yours.

There is an internationally recognized holistic veterinarian, Dr. Melissa Shelton, who has authored two books on essential oils for pets, and has her own online website,, that I reference. You may want to check it out, too. To quote her about which oils are safe to use around your animals “You may not know until you use them! I know, that is not the answer you would like to get. You want a cut and dried, “use this oil, but not this oil” sort of scenario. But, it is just not accurate….the most important thing to know is “which oil are you using and where did you get it?”. There are many different grades of essential oils, and some are created for the ‘scent and flavor’ industry.

To read more on  this or explore her blog posts and information, visit her website!

pinterest essential oils

A perfect example of the articles you will find on Pinterest promising you that essential oils are safe for your pets…

A few safety precautions to keep in mind when combining essential oils and animals:

  • Keep all oils and aromatherapy products out of reach of children and pets
  • Do not give your pets essential oils internally
  • Do not get any oils near or in the eyes
  • Never apply essential oils directly to an animal’s muzzle area or inside  nostrils, ears or mouth
  • Do not force essential oils onto animals by way of a head or muzzle mask breather-type device
  • Do not apply undiluted essential oils to animals
  • Remember essential oils are very concentrated

Always consult with your veterinarian before using these with your pet!  Become educated enough to make proper decisions about their use. Improper use of even high quality oils can lead to burns, respiratory issues, GI upset and more! Keep in mind that pets cannot speak and tell you when “Ouch, that hurts/burns!” Unfortunately, Pinterest cannot always be trusted.

-Dr. Karen Gant



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