Every day more and more people are learning about the therapeutic properties and benefits of using essential oils and are quickly making them a part of their daily lives. I am a huge advocate for them and enjoy using them for preventative care, in my beauty regimen and when making cleaning products!
I have been seeing some negative light shed on them lately, especially when talking about animals and I just wanted to put some information out there to ensure that if you are using essential oils, that you are being mindful and using them properly.
As with anything, moderation is key. For the safety of any little ones, your furry friends and of course, yourself, you do not want to be running a diffuser all day. These oils are extremely concentrated and you and your loved ones need a break to be able to get them out of your systems. This is the biggest concern with animals and what affects them the most.
Understanding that we are all different, humans and animals alike and will respond to different oils just as we respond to different plants, medicines, foods, etc., is the first thing we want to make sure that we understand. What works for one is not always going to work for or be good for another – not on a species basis but per individual. Just because your friend’s dog reacts oddly to a certain oil doesn’t mean that yours will and vice versa.
When choosing what types of oils to use around your animal, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. There is a lot of talk about phenol oils (Wintergreen, Basil, Tea-Tree, Peppermint) and their toxicity to cats but to my knowledge there has only been one study and it was done in 1972 BUT it had nothing to do with essential oils and everything to do with benzyl alcohol being injected as a food preservative to meat.
If you have searched online in an attempt to find a “safe list” for your cat or dog, you’ll know that many of the lists out there contradict one another and trying to get through them can become mind numbing. Slowly introduce different oils to your pet to see how they respond and moderate use.
There is such a thing called “Zoopharmacognosy”, founded by Caroline Ingraham which uses essential oils to let animals experience what they would if they were in their natural environment. A piece from her website states,
“Applied Zoopharmacognosy (IAZ) enables self-medicative behavior in domesticated or captive animals by offering plant extracts that would contain the same, or similar constituents to those found in an animals natural environment. The practice encourages and allows the animal to guide its own health, since unlike their wild counterparts, captive and domesticated animals rarely have the opportunity to forage on medical plants.”
This is our version of her method:
Choose an oil that you would like to test. Dilute with a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, argan, avocado) and wear it on your clothes or skin and see how your animal reacts. Never hold an open, undiluted bottle out to your animal, they have an incredible sense of smell and dogs especially can smell the scent even through a closed bottle. Once it seems they are fine with it, feel free to use it in your diffuser. Make sure they have a zone with fresh air that they are easily able to get to and never trap them in a room with a diffuser for any amount of time.
Understanding how to purchase and choose the right brand of essential oils will make a huge difference in your experience as well. The best providers are either aromatherapists themselves or supply to many aromatherapists. They should willingly provide the botanical name, country of origin and extraction method.
Pay attention to the pricing of the oils that a given brand provides. Sandalwood and Lemon should not be the same price. Not all oils are equal and the price should reflect that.
Understand the marketing terms. This is a big deal. There is currently no government grading system for essential oils. Everyone is selling “Therapeutic, Grade-A, Pure ” oil. These words have no power behind them so don’t get impressed with all of the “safe” sounding words. They are a marketing ploy.
Do-terra has created their own internal grading system and commercial trademark, “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” but it means nothing besides it is “certified” by their own standards. It turns out you can put a sticker on something and make it “special” and people will believe you!
There are tests and reports that you can obtain, some companies provide them freely to the public and others you may need to contact to get the information but they should have no issue providing it to you. A GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) is used to analyze and identify a specific substance in a sample.
The Essential Oil Analysis Foundation has a website that can be found here where you can find test reports for different companies as well as sign up for updates on new reports. Essential Oil Consumer Reports is a Facebook Group that you can join. It is a good place to gather non-biased information from tried and true consumers as well as ask questions and take part in discussions.
The majority of oils you buy will be 4OZ and in an amber colored bottle. At times, the larger amounts will come in clear or plastic bottles, if this is the case try to find out beforehand when it is placed into the clear glass or plastic. You want to make sure that they are putting it in right before being shipped and not any sooner. Once you receive the bottle, immediately transfer them to dark colored bottles.
Also, do not leave in the rubber bulbs, take them off and use a glass dropper. The essential oils will eat away the rubber and taint the integrity of the oil. Aluminum bottles may also be used but they must be lined. Orifice reducers are fine.
A 100% Pure Oil should be that you are buying the unadulterated oil with no fillers or additives. Never buy anything labeled “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil”, sometimes also sold as an “Aromatherapy Oil”. These are chemical products that likely have a few drops of the actual oil in them and none of the healing properties which are what makes essential oils so great!
What it comes down to is the distillation process and how well the oils are treated and stored up until the time of purchase. Companies that work hard at creating the best oils take pride in their work and are going to be more than happy to tell you about their process and what sets them apart from the rest. Give them a call and don’t be afraid to ask questions or request additional information.
Ask your veterinarian about using essential oils especially if your furry friend is 10 weeks or younger or has a pre-existing medical condition. If you own a bird, fish or other small animal be aware that even over time, these animals may have adverse reactions to oils.