Animal Aromatherapy 101

Most pet owners I know will do anything to keep their furry loved ones healthy, but are oftentimes unsure which natural products to use and which ones to stay away from. When it comes to animal aromatherapy, using essential oils on your pets and livestock, this is particularly true because of all the misinformation out there on the Internet. Trust me when I tell you that using essential oils with animals is certainly effective at warding off disease, but much care should be taken to use them safely!

Purity Is Key

No one should subject themselves or their pets to compromised essential oils, or worse, synthetic oils, fragrances, and air fresheners. Since there is more than one way to distil the volatile organic compounds from plants, the integrity of essential oils is the most important aspect of using them because not all methods are free from extenders or other additives that may be toxic to cats, dogs, birds, and other domestic animals. Many contaminated essential oils are labeled 100% pure, but they may contain these very toxins. The only way to know

for sure that the essential oil you’re using on your pets is pure and unadulterated is to vet the company out. Carefully review the information that I share, because it can make all the difference in the world between using a knock-off brand or the “real deal!”

Common Applications

Animals are exposed to essential oils aromatically, internally, or topically. Here’s a quick rundown.


• Nebulizer diffusers disperse essential oils directly from the bottle and into the air. Animals should not be closed in the room during this process.
• Water diffusion is a preferred method for animals, especially for newbies. It uses only 1 – 5 drops of oil and can be moved from place to place, and used in multiple situations (like open and closed rooms).


Essential oils can be consumed in wet food and drinking water if they are extremely diluted (for dogs, 1 drop oil to 2 cups water; for smaller animals and birds, 1 drop oil to 1 liter of water).


Essential oils can be applied by several different methods. Pets tolerate stroking along the spine better than most other methods. Ear

tipping should only be used for short-eared animals. Animals with long ears shake their heads, and transfer the oil from the tips of their ears to their eyes. If applied to paws, make sure that the focus is on the skin between the pads. You can also add diluted essential oils to shampoos, or try misting areas that your pet frequents like lounging and sleeping spaces.
With so many benefits and ways to accommodate your pets, using essential oils can make a big difference in the quality of their lives.

Traditional Pets

For the most part, as the long as your animal has room to move way from the source, diffusing most essential oils should be okay. The concern is when you topically apply specific oils on their bodies or put them in their food or water.
Besides certain oils that are just not good for a particular species, your pet may like or dislike specific oils as a matter of preference. Always be on the look out for unusual behavior and be sure to discontinue use if something doesn’t seem right.


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Cats are very sensitive to stimulants. Their livers don’t secrete an enzyme that significantly affects metabolism, leaving them vulnerable to toxins across the board from plants, most pesticides, and pain relievers to caffeine, chocolate, and certain metals, like zinc and lead.
Avoid applying essential oils high in ketones or phenols on their fur and be sure they have the freedom to walk out of a room if you’re diffusing oils like:

  •  Basil
  • Wintergreen
  •  Birch
  • Spearmint
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint
  • Melaleuca
  • Oregano
  • Nutmeg

Cats are also sensitive to essential oils containing d-limonene so it would be wise to avoid:

  • Bergamot
  • Tangerine
  • Dill
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Lime
  • Lemon


Animal Aromatherapy 101

Dogs are not nearly as sensitive to cats and seem to respond well to most essential oils that you would normally use. People regularly apply highly diluted solutions on their fur with no problem at all, diffuse throughout the house and even a drop in their food to combat infection. Nonetheless, it’d be wise

to avoid these:

  • Birch
  • Wintergreen
  • Camphor
  • Melaleuca


Animal Aromatherapy 101

Birds should only be exposed to water diffusion or water misting (1 drop oil to several ounces of water in a spray bottle).

Little Furry Cuddles

Animal Aromatherapy 101

Rabbits and other furry “cuddles” have highly sensitive digestive systems. It would be wise to avoid essential oils used for their antibacterial properties like:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Cassia

Pets With Special Needs

If your pet has a seizure disorder, then oils like basil, wintergreen, black pepper, rosemary, camphor, sage, eucalyptus, hyssop, and fennel should be avoided. They are associated with lowering the seizure threshold.

Disorders that involve bleeding or issues with blood clotting will be exacerbated by topical applications of birch, wintergreen, cassia, oregano, cinnamon, fennel, and clove.

Expecting or nursing mothers should steer clear of basil, white fir, cassia, wintergreen, cinnamon, thyme, clary, rosemary, and sage. Other “hot oils” like oregano should also be avoided or used sparingly and

extremely diluted.

Larger Animals

Larger animals, particularly those with hooves, benefit from undiluted essential oils applied on the spine, the coronet band, or along the area of the skin and hoof. Water misting is also a way to effectively apply these oils.

Common Situations For Essential Oil Use


Finding a treatment for allergies is time-consuming because sources of the irritation must be identified. A veterinarian will be a great help, and avoid unnecessary trial and error discomfort or illness. Generally-speaking for large animals and dogs, oral ingestion of lavender, frankincense, peppermint, and lemon, as well as a supplement of Omega 3, 2 – 3 times daily should help to improve the condition.

Using a natural ear cleaner regularly is a must when dealing with ear infections. Diluted basil, geranium, lavender, and frankincense may then be applied around the base of your pet’s ears. Treatment for generic cases of neoplasia can be enhanced by frankincense and sandalwood.

Seizures may also benefit from frankincense with an Omega 3 supplement.


Fear and aggression stemming from anxieties may typically be treated with lavender or a blend of lavender and vetiver. The

stress of transition, whether it is a new home or a temporary housing situation, or the deduction or introduction of another animal, may be alleviated using lavender and myrrh.

Rules Of Thumb For All Pets

Animal Aromatherapy 101

Always introduce pet-friendly essential oils gradually by diluting what you would consider a normal dose by at least a third (one-third less oil or three times as much carrier oil). A trial-and-error process will help to establish the most beneficial ratio for dilution as well as frequency.

The smaller the animal, the more care should be taken. Always pay close attention to your pet’s reaction to a new essential oil. Watch for signs of stress or distress, like making unpleasant faces in the direction of the source or leaving the room entirely.

And remember, journal your results! Using essential oils with your pets can be an absolute game-changer and you’ll want to keep notes in case you forget what oils and blends have worked for you along your

natural health journey. Trust me, your animals will thank you for it!