Have you ever wondered just how common it was to own a pet in the U.S.? Well, today is your lucky day because we are here with the official 2021 statistics. With more than 2/3 of American households containing a pet and 1/3 of households worldwide, pets are a central part of life. If that number sounds high to you, it might be because it's growing. Younger generations are more likely to own a pet than older age groups; in fact Millennials and Gen Z make up 57% of nationwide pet ownership with roughly 3 in 4 owning a pet. Clearly, pets are increasingly part of life for a majority of Americans, which is why it is important to examine the impacts of essential oils on our furry friends. You may have heard varying opinions on the topic of using essential oils around or on pets or perhaps you have never given it much thought. Either way, it's an important subject to consider in context with the myriad of benefits that essential oils provide to humans.
Which essential oils are best to use around pets?
First, let's start with the essential oils that are ideal to use around your pets. Some essential oils are not only safe, but also come with benefits for the four-legged folks. And some are safe for dogs but not cats and vice versa. Since cats and dogs are by far the most common pets, this article will be focusing on them (as a side note, you don't really have to worry about essential oils hurting fish as long as you don't pour the essential oil into their tanks).
When it comes to dogs, lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and cedarwood are all healthy essential oils to use around dogs. Lavender is great for calming your pet down and can be used as an ointment on wounds and itchy spots on your dog. Peppermint can be used, along with many other remedies, to prevent fleas while chamomile and cedarwood are important for their anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties that can aid with everything from skin irritations to kennel cough. This means that these essential oils are safe to use on and around your dogs as they will likely benefit from them in similar ways to you!
Spearmint, cardamom, fennel, and helichrysum oils are all great options for cats. Their benefits range from helping with digestive issues (spearmint and cardamom) to boosting the nervous system as well as skincare recovery (helichrysum) and helping detoxify the glands (fennel). Oils such as these can be of huge assistance to your cat's overall health and you can use them yourself without any concern for your feline's wellbeing.
When using essential oils on pets specifically, make sure to always dilute the oil to a level proportional to their size. You can research more on the exact proportions based on your pet's breed and weight or even ask your veterinarian. It's never advisable to use essential oils around your pet's sensitive areas such as the eyes, ears, or private areas. And, of course, observe your pet the first few times you use an essential oil to make sure that there are no adverse reactions.
What essential oils are bad for my pets?
Just as there are many healthy and beneficial essential oil choices for your pets, there are also some that can cause them great harm. While it's important to consult your vet regarding specifics, here are some essential oils that are wise to avoid using with your pets.
For dogs, stay away from rosemary, wintergreen, tea tree, cinnamon and thyme. When it comes to cats, make sure to avoid citrus, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, peppermint, tea tree, cinnamon, and thyme. As you can see, there is some overlap between cats and dogs but there are also significant differences between what dogs and cats can tolerate. Depending on the level of toxicity, you may need to steer clear of these essential oils in your home entirely or just avoid applying them topically to your pet directly.
There are also a few essential oils that you should not use on any animals. These include juniper, cassia, oregano, and rue, among others. Check out Ancient Nutrition's website for more information on the do's and don't's of specific essential oils and how they may affect your pet.
How can essential oils harm my pets?
It's important to remember that every pet is a little different. What harms some dogs may not harm all dogs; however, there are a few universals. Citrus harms cats because they lack the proper enzyme to break down the compounds which can result in them drooling excessively, becoming lethargic, or even vomiting depending on the level of exposure. Remember, pets have a stronger sense of smell than humans, so what may seem like a very minor scent to you is going to be way more intense to them and to their bodies to process. To put it into perspective, one researcher estimates that dogs and cats have a sense of smell roughly 20 times strongly than ours! So, in a nutshell, essential oils can harm your pets by inundating them with an odor that they find overpowering. This may result in similar reactions as cats have to citrus: drooling, lethargy, vomiting, or other uncharacteristic behavior.
Can I still use essential oils that are toxic to my pets as long as I keep them out of reach?
Now we reach the point at which the rubber hits the road. Let's say you have a cat but also love using a eucalyptus bundle in your shower. Does the fact that eucalyptus is on the no-fly list for cats mean that you can't use it in your house anywhere or just that you shouldn't target its usage directly at your cat? These are tricky questions, especially when an animal that you love is involved.
The first step is to research each essential oil you are considering using individually. Some are more toxic than others. For example, citrus oil can quite literally lead to a condition in cats called citrus poisoning. However, others may just cause issues when a cat is exposed too an excessive concentration. To return to our eucalyptus example, most experts concur that it is fine to use a eucalyptus in your house in areas that are separate from your cat, particularly in areas that your cat cannot reach. So, a eucalyptus bundle hanging from the shower head is an ideal location - most cats aren't in the habit of climbing shower heads (if yours is, I want to see some pictures). However, if you have a shower curtain that your cat is prone to climbing or you're worried that it will somehow end up in the room while the eucalyptus is diffusing during your shower, make sure to keep the door to your bathroom closed and your cat in a different location.
Essentially, the main thing is to monitor the usage of your essential oils around your furry friends. When considering using essential oils directly on pets, make sure to do extensive research to make sure that it is an essential oil that will benefit and not harm them. Remember, essential oils that work for you may not have the same effects on pets as their bodies and sizes are so vastly different. At the same time, this isn't a call to throw out your rosemary shower bundle because rosemary essential oil isn't beneficial to dogs. Just use discretion and make sure not to put your pet in harm's way by overstimulating them.
While your pets may (and should) impact your choices of essential oils and when and where you use them, you have plenty of options to choose from at Self-Care Shower. Whether you choose a pure lavender bundle for its calming effect on you and your dog alike, or a vibrant myrtle bundle for variety, with these tips for using essential oils in a home with pets, you will be prepared to optimize your usage. No matter what you choose, you can bring a winsome scent into your bathroom with a Self-Care Shower bundle, sustainably hand-picked and grown in the United States!
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