What are Essential Oils?
Highly concentrated volatile aromatic compounds obtained from different parts of plants: Flowers, Leaves, Stems, Roots, Bark, Grass, Needles, Twigs, Resins, Seeds, Fruit. They are extracted by Steam Distillation or Cold Expressed.
How do they work?
By producing chemical changes in the body by influencing hormones, enzymes, pH balance, etc. They can affect the nervous system or endocrine system. The emotional response through inhalation can cause positive mental and physiological changes.
The body is always striving to achieve balance.
Benefits of Essential Oils:
- Help the pet’s own healing mechanism
- Stimulates the immune system
- Antibacterial, and antifungal properties, helping with different infections
- Antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief), relaxing and anti-tumoral properties
Uses of Essential Oils:
- Physical benefits: burns, warts, wounds, bruising, allergies, medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, hormonal problems
- Emotional benefits: helps different fears, phobias, anxiety
How can we use them?
Aromatherapy (diffusing), topically (on the skin diluted in a carrier oil), internally (mixed with food or water).
Can I use any Essential Oils?
No, just the natural ones are safe to be used, not the synthetic ones.
Are they safe?
- Yes, if you are guided by a Certified Aromatherapy Specialist for Animals.
- Not all oils can be used internally
- There are specific oils that should not be used for cats
- There are specific oils that should not be used for pets with different conditions (seizures, pregnancy, asthma, etc.)
- Natural essential oils are very safe. Safety comes from the way an oil is extracted, processed, stored, and used. Using oils from companies that have a process for testing the quality and purity of an essential oil is important. Some of the testing includes microbial testing (bacteria, virus, fungi, mold), heavy metal testing, contamination testing (pesticides, chemicals, etc.)
How do we use Essential Oils in animals?
- Aromatic (diffusing in a diffuser, spray in the air, humidifier, etc.)
- Topically (ONLY DILUTED!!!) on the spine, tips of the ears
- Internally in capsules or no more than 1-2 drops mixed in food.
NOT ALL OILS CAN BE TAKEN INTERNALLY!
Always dilute essential oils and keep in mind each animal is different, some can be more sensitive than others.
Oils to avoid for certain conditions: here are just a few examples, there are other oils to be avoided based on the condition of each pet:
Pets with seizures, do not use wintergreen, eucalyptus, camphor, rosemary, and others.
Pets during pregnancy, do not use basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, and others.
Pets with asthma, do not use peppermint, oregano, rosemary, and others.
Essential Oils and medication: there are interactions between essential oils and certain medications. For example, if your pet takes anticoagulants, avoid wintergreen, cinnamon, oregano, and thyme. If your pet is on medication for diabetes, then avoid oregano, turmeric, melissa and others. There are other essential oils that should not be used with medications for anxiety and thyroid medications as well.
What possible adverse reactions can you see: Skin irritation is most common.
Discontinue use if you see: distress, drooling, squinting, rubbing face, vocalization, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea.
These effects tend to be seen more often with synthetic oils or if essential oil therapy is not done under the guidance of a certified aromatherapy specialist.
Oils to avoid with dogs: Birch, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Wintergreen
Use caution with hot oils (Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme).
Oils to Avoid with Cats: Birch, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen. Caution with Hot oils for cats as well (Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme).
We perform “self-selection” where the pet gets to choose the preferred oil out of a group of oils for that condition.
Short history lesson about Essential Oils:
- Babylonians have used Myrrh, Cedar and Cypress (1800 BC).
- Egyptians (3000 BC) have used Essential Oils in massage and reflexology.
- Mummies have been embalmed with Cassia, Myrrh and Cedarwood.
- According to Wikipedia: in 1937 an Aromatherapy French book was published: Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales by René-Maurice Gattefossé, a chemist. An English version was published in 1993. In 1910, Gattefossé burned a hand very badly and later claimed he treated it effectively with lavender oil. (“Aromatherapy – Wikipedia”). A French surgeon, Jean Valnet, pioneered the medicinal uses of essential oils, which he used as antiseptics in the treatment of wounded soldiers during WWII.