Oils + Animals 101
Ancient cultures revered animals, celebrating their unique qualities, their perceived strengths, and the observed behaviours within the food chain. The Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Hindus all associated divine beings with animals. Native American cultures celebrated them as a rich part of their cosmology centering on the Great Spirit or the Great Mystery. They viewed seasons, weather, plants, animals, earth, water sky and fire as part of the whole collective of humanity.
With the domestication of animals, humans took on a greater responsibility—recognizing that their livelihoods depended greatly on the health and well-being of animals in their care. This tradition continued into the age of the Industrial Revolution. But over time, industrial profits and superfluous competitive breeding have compromised nature’s biodiversity, effectively threatening the health of our domesticated animals by diminishing the strength of their genetic code.
With industrial food production and highly refined diets, both animals and humans alike face challenges in getting proper nutrition and healthy support. Food contains more energy and fewer enzymes, potentially causing a rise in obesity and, inversely, a decline in nutrition. As a result, humans are faced with a choice: to enrich and supplement their diets or face a reduced quality of life. It is a curious irony that with technology and the ability to produce more efficiently than ever before, we have lost the effectiveness of one of our most powerful sources of health—the foods we ingest.
This same challenge has trickled down to the animals in our care. Animals and humans are more closely tied that the modern age would have us believe. When we feed our animals with inferior food products, we effectively ingest those same inferior foods. When we use hormones and genetically modified foods on animals that produce food products (or become food products themselves), we potentially affect our own hormone health.
Why essential oils and animals?
We love our animals as part of our families. We respect them, often times, as part of our livelihood. We hope for a quality of life that benefits us both.
We are all interconnected—animals, plants, and humans alike. We share the same atmosphere, the same water, and the same ground.
Anyone who has witnessed the suffering of an animal knows without a doubt that it can suffer. In addition, any person who has cared for an animal—only to watch it suffer and be told nothing further could be done to help ease its suffering—knows what it feels like to try whatever it takes to relieve the situation.
Have you ever considered what your personal home environment’s effect may be on your pets? The more ‘green’ and clean you can make your home (free of toxic chemicals, cleaners, scented candles, air fresheners, furniture and carpet sprays, etc) the healthier your pet will be.
Along with ordering my first oils, I ordered my “Bibles”, The Essential Desk Reference and my first Animal Desk Reference book by a holistic vet. I did my homework. I have an awful memory, so these books are it. They will tell you what oil for what condition and why. You can look up everything about the oils, including cautions.
There is a LOT of disinformation and fear mongering out there about essential oils and animals. As with everything, use your common sense. Why are you using an oil? What are you wanting to accomplish with it? Do you have a diagnosis for what is happening with your animal from your vet?
Cats – An IMPORTANT Note:
One of the main considerations when choosing an oil or oils for cats is the way the feline liver processes certain constituents of essential oils. Cats of all breeds have a deficient P450 cytochrome pathway, making it impossible for felines to break down certain metabolites of drugs, medications, and some essential oils. As a result, these metabolites can cause toxicity in the body. For example, cats cannot breakdown salicylate (a major component in aspirin), and this is why aspirin is contraindicated for cats. Wintergreen essential oil has naturally occurring methyl salicylate, so is generally not given to felines. Other products containing high levels of phenols should generally be avoided or used with caution. Phenols are another compound that cats have difficulty processing in their bodies. As always, consult your vet and/or your Desk References.
Animals respond in varying degrees of acceptance when offered an essential oil, regardless of the method used (topical, internal, or inhalation). Some dogs and cats readily lie beside a diffuser or near an open bottle of oil, while others will want to leave a room where oils have been applied or diffused.
When an animal shows an abnormally strong aversion to essential oils, it is usually because the oils chosen are too strong or the concentration of oils being diffused is too high. Adjusting the strength of the scent us usually enough to remedy the situation. Also, by wearing essential oils on yourself, you will become a “human diffuser”: and oftentimes the animal who detests oils on itself will accept oils on the caretaker.
Flea repellant: 4 drops of each of the listed ingredients in a 15ml bottle, I put a couple drops on daily when we head into the great outdoors.
Citronella: This oil is a powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antiparasitic, in addition to being an insect repellant
Eucalyptus: In addition to being insecticidal, this oil is an expectorant, antifungal and antibacterial.
Lavender: Another use for this workhorse oil, in addition to being an antiseptic, antifungal and relaxant and anti-inflammatory, bugs don’t like it either.
Lemongrass: In addition to being an anti-parasitic, this amazing scent is antifungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory.
If you don’t have all the above oils in your collection, a couple drops of peppermint are also VERY helpful repelling insects.
I use the raindrop technique on everyone! My dogs, my cat, the horses I work with, other dogs that come to my house, my hubby and 2 legged clients. As animals can’t speak English very well, they sometimes have a hard time telling you what’s wrong. Raindrop covers a wide variety of conditions and it works.
“Kitty Raindrop” Recipe (for cats and dogs):
It is a diluted version of the human Raindrop. I mix up the blend with a carrier oil (V6 vegetable oil). It is then only one application instead of trying to get your cat to sit still for the application of 8 oils. Every animal is different, this is why it is so important to do your research. For example: a raindrop treatment for a cat MUST be diluted. 90:1 carrier oil to essential oils.
To begin with the Valor you put it on your palms and allow it to soak into your skin before touching the cat.
With a dog, you may use undiluted oils and begin with the Valor on your palms in a puddle and then touch the dog. On a human, the oils are dropped neat from the bottle. On a horse (depending on the horse) the oils are also dropped from the bottle. However, not all horses like to be ‘rained on’, so I drop the oils into the palm of my hand, activate and stroke the back of the horse. Petting is a very effective way to get the oils onto any animal.
Oregano: antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, anti inflammatory, immune stimulant
Thyme: antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic
Basil: anti spasmodic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, muscle relaxant
Cypress: improves circulation and strengthens blood capillaries, anti infectious, antispasmodic, discourages fluid retention
Wintergreen: anticoagulant, antispasmodic, highly anti inflammatory, vasodilator, analgesic/anesthetic, reduces blood pressure, all types of pain
Marjoram: muscle soothing-helps relieve body & joint discomfort, helps soothe the digestive tract and is a general relaxant. Antibacterial, antifungal, vasodilator, lowers blood pressure, promotes intestinal peristalsis, expectorant, mucolytic
Peppermint: anti inflammatory, anti tumoral, antiparasitic (worms), antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, gallbladder/digestive stimulant, pain relieving, curbs appetite
Valor: blend formulated to balance energies and instill courage, confidence and self esteem. It helps the body self-correct its balance & alignment
Rosewood: anti infectious, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, is very grounding & strengthening
Tansy, blue: helps cleanse the liver & lymphatic system, helping one to overcome anger & negative emotions, promoting a feeling of self control
Frankincense: stimulates the limbic part of the brain, elevating the mind and helping overcome stress & despair. Used in European medicine to combat depression
Spruce: opens & releases emotional blocks, fostering a sense of balance & grounding.
Almond oil carrier: Ayurveda system (India) of health considers the almond a nutrient for the brain & nervous system.
With the horses, we have worked with a variety of conditions, lameness, nerve impingements, laminitis, west nile, thrush, emotional balancing.
I use DiGize for digestive challenges, as my cat is now 13 and still a voracious hunter and sometimes my dog helps him dispose of his kills. (This doesn’t always agree with my dog’s tummy.) I use Copaiba for when my animal is in pain or ‘just not right’.
Sometimes an oil application is just having the bottle in my pocket and letting them smell it, sometimes it’s putting some on my hand and having them lick it, sometimes it’s a full raindrop application or combination of aromatic, ingestion and topical, just like humans.
We just have to remember, with our animals, 4 legged, feathered or otherwise, what are we hoping to accomplish, what oil are we choosing and why. And using a reference source that you trust.
I use my oils everyday for everything. My diffusers go 24/7. I have a great relationship with my vets both traditional and holistic. They always know what I’m doing ‘on my own’ and why. We have open discussions about the oils.
It is EXTREMELY important to consider the entire picture of our animals health. The water we drink, do we live in a City environment where the water is chlorinated, does the park where our dog plays off leash fertilize with chemicals, what is in the food they eat, how much exercise do we/our animals get? All These factors impact our systems. When my dog has diarrhea, I treat him with probiotics, chicken broth and rice for a meal in addition to DiGize. With a laminitic horse, I don’t just leave her in a small grassy pen and give her raindrop, we change her food, administer recommended supplements, call in the farrier, move her daily AND give her regular raindrop treatments.