Click here to learn more.
Many of us love the smell of lavender, cinnamon or jasmine, but what about our pets?
Aromatherapy has been touted to reduce anxiety, enhance energy and induce relaxation in people. But there are few scientific studies that have looked at the use of aromatherapy for pets and whether it has the same effects in them. As a result, there are certain rules of thumb that should be followed whenever you use these products around your pets.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to create all those wonderful scents that we humans love to breathe in deeply and enjoy. It’s important to realize, however, that many of these substances that seem relaxing to us are, in fact, volatile compounds, which means they can be potentially toxic to pets at certain concentrations. Animals and people are different in how they react to these substances, and your veterinarian should always be consulted before using these products around your four-footed family members. Keep in mind that what is safe for use around humans is not necessarily safe to use on or near our animals. These essential oils can be inadvertently inhaled by your pet, consumed by licking or actually eating the substance, or absorbed through the skin. This is a concern because many of these substances can be harmful.
One of the key things to understand is that dogs and cats have a much better sense of smell than we do. What smells good to us may be overwhelming for them. You wouldn’t want to be trapped on an elevator with an overly perfumed companion, so always make sure your pets have a way to escape from the smells that you think are wonderful — those same scents may be irritating to them. A dog’s sense of smell may be thousands or tens of thousands of times more sensitive than ours. And while cats are not as talented in the sniffing department as dogs, their sense of smell is still far more sensitive than ours. Birds in particular need to be safeguarded from strong scents — they have a very different and more sensitive respiratory tract than do humans, and the inhalation of essential oils is not recommended.
Many “natural” pet care products also appear to contain the same substances that are used in aromatherapy products. However, that does not mean that any aromatherapy product should be used indiscriminately on your pet. Essential oils in pet care products are generally constituted in greatly diluted amounts. For example, many natural flea shampoos or dips may contain essential oils, but because of the dilution of these oils with other ingredients, they are safe to use according to label directions. Always follow the directions and never assume more is better. In addition, keep in mind these are active compounds that may interact with any other medications your pet may already be prescribed.
For these reasons, do not apply 100 percent essential oils from aromatherapy products on your pet, especially on broken skin. The volatile compounds can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and possibly damage vital organs. Cats in particular are missing some detoxifying liver enzymes (when compared to dogs or people) and are highly sensitive to "hot" oils like cinnamon, oregano, clove, wintergreen, thyme and birch. Skin application of 100 percent tea tree oil has caused liver failure in some cats, for example. Essential oils should also never be given orally because some very common oils, including eucalyptus, tea tree, pennyroyal and thuja, can damage the liver. Seizures are possible with large doses of some essential oils. If your pet has ingested essential oils, call your veterinarian immediately.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Tracy and Terrance Hatcher were able to
save a neighbor from her burning home
after their dog alerted them to the…
From the water-loving Portuguese Water
Dog to the fetch-obsessed Labrador
Retriever, these breeds love to have fun.
Dr. Laurie Hess shares her expert advice
for avoiding preventable exotic animal
emergencies during the holidays.
Does your pup snatch treats and toys
from your hand? Mikkel Becker offers tips
on stopping grabby behavior.
We’re honoring a service dog who dialed
911 for a veteran, a therapy Pit Bull who
overcame terrible trauma, and…
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.