Pet owners everywhere are discussing the potential effects that essential oils can have on their furry friends.
Essential oils can be used in many different ways. Whether it’s by applying the oils directly on the skin or using a few drops in a recipe, many people swear by these oils to alleviate pain, anxiety or just to purify the air around them.
Recently, essential oil diffusers have become a staple in households across Canada. This new trend brings aroma to a room but has also brought about a new controversy – can these oils be toxic to animals?
Deirdra Johnson, a veterinarian at the Paradise Animal Hospital andWellness Centre, says peer review is lacking on this topic.
“Anecdotally, there have been reports of essential oils causing problems in dogs and cats when applied topically or when ingested,” said Johnson. “However, evidence that essential oils can cause respiratory problems when inhaled is lacking.”
Johnson says if an animal has an underlying respiratory disease essential oils might irritate the animal’s respiratory tract, but the level of irritation or toxicity cannot be predicted.
“Reports of toxicity are dose-dependent,” she said. “The higher the dose and the smaller the animal, the greater the number of reports of toxicity.”
Johnson recommends that any essential oil use in animals be preceded by a consultation with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate product, dose and method of application.
Nancy Day and Jason Iamundo of Baby Face Bullies did just that when they noticed a cyst growing on one of their dogs, Nova.
They contacted Kelly Mark who runs Canada’s Oily Vet. Mark was a practising veterinarian for 15 years when she was in a car accident and was forced to retire.
Healing with essential oils
Mark was looking for a natural way to manage her own pain when she discovered DoTerra essential oils and soon began researching the benefits for animals.
She instructed Day and Iamundo to do a warm compress using frankincense and lavender oils and also to give the dog copaiba (a spicy oil).
“I was mind blown,” said Day. “Literally within minutes, the cyst started to drain and Nova immediately felt better.”
Since then, Day says, she and Iamundo have used essential oils to treat everything from allergies, skin conditions, pneumonia, anxiety and digestive issues with their dogs.
Mark warns her clients to be aware of the health of their pets and to do their research before using essential oils.
“The number one thing you’re going to hear from any veterinarian using oils is that brand is extremely important,” said Mark. “Don’t buy it from a store, Kijiji or Amazon. It’s important to be using only pure products.”
“It irks me that there are products out there now that aren’t what they say they are,” she said. “But it’s a huge market now, and everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie.”
Essential oils to avoid
Oils to avoid topically and internally with cats: Basil, citrus oils (bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine), birch, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, melaleuca (tea tree), oregano, peppermint, thyme, rosemary, spearmint and wintergreen.
Oils to avoid topically and internally with dogs: Birch, melaleuca (tea tree) and wintergreen. Use caution with hot oils such as oregano, cassia, cinnamon, clove, rosemary,and thyme.