Animal Wise: Essential oil safety

close-up-of-cat-s-nose

Some essential oils can be toxic to cats, even when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. (Foter)

When a journalist friend shared a Snopes Fact Check piece about essential oils being potentially poisonous to cats, I took notice.

Snopes is generally good at sifting out scams and misinformation, and I already knew cats are much more sensitive than other animals to essential oils. When used the wrong way or in the wrong concentration or amount, even diffused, some essential oils can be toxic. That is something every cat guardian — OK, cat staff member — should know. It’s why I am very cautious about using essential oils myself, and why I would never suggest a client use essential oils without first seeking reliable guidance on which oils to use, how, and with what species.

As another journalist friend and cat parent pointed out, the safety of particular essential oils for cats and other animals is best determined not by Snopes but by a veterinarian well educated and experienced in this discipline. That’s when I remembered animalEO, a line of essential oil products developed by holistic veterinarian Dr. Melissa Shelton. A veteran physical therapist and dog parent told me about animalEO, and Dr. Shelton’s Away blend was helpful during last year’s bad tick season. Her website is packed full of information, and there is a very active animalEO Facebook group hosted by Dr. Shelton herself. (Good luck keeping up with the high volume of posts.) Also see her response to the viral post that led to the Snopes piece.

If you are interested in using essential oils and live with any dogs, cats, birds, or other animals, here are my recommendations:

  1. Go to animalEO and find out more about how the animal’s condition might be, or not be, addressed with essential oils. Don’t even think of buying cheaper, lower quality oils, or using blends not formulated for animals.
  2. Take that information and run it by your veterinarian.
  3. If you use essential oils, use as directed. When in doubt, use less rather than more.
  4. Observe carefully. If any adverse effects occur, discontinue use and contact your vet.

Be mindful — not fearful — and remember that “natural” isn’t necessarily beneficial.

 

 

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