Essential Oils for Dogs: Are They Safe?

If you are reading this, you may already be acquainted with essential oils, and how to use them. However, if essential oils are new to you, let’s take a moment to talk about what they are and how they are commonly used.

Essential oils are the effervescent, highly-concentrated organic element of plants that give each plant its characteristic smell and taste. They are found in all parts of the plant, such as the stems, leaves, roots, nuts and seeds. Essential oils are thought of as being volatile, as they can easily change from a liquid state into a gas or a scent. This happens easily, when you open up a bottle of essential oil and the strong aroma escapes.

A Word About Aromatherapy

When used on humans, aromatherapy can be beneficial in so many ways. Essential oils can be used by diluting them in a carrier oil, and applied directly to the skin. They can also be added to a diffuser, which mists the oil directly into the air. For humans, when used correctly, essential oils can be used to help remedy a myriad of different conditions. People who love their essential oils may have a tendency to think that what is good for them is also good for their pets. However, the truth is that this may be a dangerous assumption.

Can Essential Oils Be Helpful for Dogs?

There are many holistic veterinarians who recommend the use of essential oils for their canine patients. With that being said, here is what the AKC says regarding the use of essential oils for dogs. Although there are ways to use them safely, there can be serious risks associated with using essential oils incorrectly.

A Risky Situation

Many people assume that just because something is natural, that means it is completely safe. However, this is a common misconception. Quite potent in nature, essential oils are quite risky for you to use for your pets without proper guidance from a veterinarian.

Even if we are talking about just a few drops of a chosen essential oil, applied topically they can irritate the skin of both you and your dog. Obviously, this is not what you want, if you are looking to improve the quality of your dog’s health.

Essential oils contain chemicals that are quickly absorbed by the body, no matter whether the oil is applied topically or whether the oil is ingested. The oil is then quickly metabolized by the liver. This makes essential oils particularly dangerous for dogs who have liver disease, as well as senior dogs, or young pups.

If you put essential oils onto your dog’s coat and he or she manages to lick it off, they are likely to experience an upset stomach, indigestion, nausea or vomiting. You should never leave your essential oils in a place where your dogs can reach them, in order to protect your pets.  

Keep in mind that even using essential oils in a diffuser affects your pet, because he or she breathes in the aroma of the powerful oil.

The golden rule of essential oils for dogs is that you should NEVER give them to your pets to ingest.

Here is a list of essential oils that are known to be HARMFUL to dogs:

Anise, Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Garlic, Juniper, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet Birch, Tea Tree, Thyme, Wintergreen, Yarrow, and Ylang Ylang.

Should your dog ever accidentally consume essential oils, immediately contact your veterinarian, as well as the poison control center at 800-213-6680.

Poisoning Symptoms

Not sure if your pet has ingested some of your essential oils or not? Here are some symptoms of poisoning:

  •         Smelling the scent of the essential oil on their fur, breath, skin or vomit
  •         Your dog is having a difficult time breathing
  •         Excessive drooling
  •         Tiredness
  •         Weakness
  •         Trouble walking
  •         Muscle tremors
  •         Pawing at the face or mouth
  •         Vomiting
  •         Burns or redness on their tongue, skin, lips or gums

Safely Using Essential Oils

Is there a safe way to use essential oils for dogs? One alternative is to try purchasing precisely-formulated products that contain specific essential oils that have been tested and proven safe to use on dogs.

Most veterinarians will instruct you to not use essential oils topically. However, if they allow it, they will have you mix the essential oil with a carrier oil, which may include almond oil or olive oil for example.

The bottom line is this. The only safe way to use essential oils on your dog is to get approval and specific instructions from your veterinarian. 

Author Bio:

Pamela Gentry is a writer and parent of two children.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family.
She is passionate about inspiring others to rescue animals!

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