Natural healthcare remedies are popular with many people, and the use of essential oils to treat common ailments has grown in recent years. Considering the explosion in essential oil popularity, you might be wondering if what’s good for humans is also good for dogs and cats. But before you attempt any home remedies for Mittens or Lucky, read up on essential oils and pets. Their systems work a bit differently from ours!
First, keep in mind that “natural” does not always equal “safe”. There are plenty of things in nature that can harm or kills us (pets too)!
Second, we must remember what essential oils actually are. Although made with natural ingredients like herbs, they are manufactured to extract the plant compounds and then distilled. The end result is a highly concentrated liquid – not exactly something you find growing in your backyard. With concentrated compounds, strong effects and overdoses can occur.
Oils can be used via ingestion, inhalation, or simply rubbing them on the skin. Please keep in mind that anything rubbed on the skin will be absorbed, and does end up in your (or your pet’s) bloodstream. So, topical applications are not always as harmless as you might think!
Cats, in particular, lack the liver enzymes to correctly process essential oils out of their systems. Their systems work differently from ours, and therefore an accidental overdose and liver toxicity are much more likely in felines. Dogs, too, can react differently than expected.
Having said all of that, essential oils might be of therapeutic use to pets in very specific situations. But we urge you to consult with us first, so that we can assess your concerns and make safe recommendations for their use. Attempting a home remedy with a pet can quickly lead to disaster, even with substances that are generally safe for humans.
Finally, accidental ingestion is one of the primary dangers of essential oils and pets. Even if you never attempt to treat your pets with oils, they might still get into your collection. Dogs, especially, sometimes ingest oils and other substances that can surprise us. Keep your oils put away, out of reach, and be on the lookout for these signs of poisoning:
- Increased heart rate or breathing rate
- Squinting eyes
- Odd behavior
If you suspect an accidental overdose, contact us right away, and bring the essential oil container to your appointment.
Again, we highly discourage the use of essential oils in pets, unless you have sought the advice of a veterinarian first.