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Using Essential Oils Around Your Pets

 

Using Essential Oils Around Pets

As pet owners, we often worry about how the products we use in our homes impact the health and well-being of our pets. Essential oils are natural but we may be worried that the wrong essential oil can trigger a negative reaction in our pets. However, aromatherapy can be just as beneficial to our companion animals as it is for ourselves. So if you are worried about using essential oils around your pets or are curious about the benefits of essential oils for your pets, here is a simple guide that can help answer your questions.

 

Be Careful With These Essential Oils

Every pet is different and may have different reactions to different essential oils. However, there are some essential oils that you may want to be careful using around your pets. If you have cats, you also need to be wary about certain oils. Cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils that contain polyphenolic compounds because they interfere with their liver detoxification processes. So if you have cats use extra caution around essentials oils like cinnamon, tea tree, thyme, birch, wintergreen, clove, and oregano.

There are also certain essential oils that should not be used for or around dogs including anise, clove, garlic, horseradish, juniper, thyme, wintergreen, and yarrow. These essential oils can trigger a range of issues from allergies and skin sensitivities to interference in their natural body processes.

If you use any of these essential oils for your own health, make sure you also exercise caution around your pets. If you use a diffuser, keep them out of the room during the treatment period. If you wear these essential oils on pulse points throughout the day, be careful when petting your companion animals.

Essential Oils That Are Great For Pets

Though there are some essential oils that can cause your pets problems, there are plenty of essential oils that can be used to help them. The best part is all of these essential oils have great benefits for you as well.  Here are some essential oils you can safely use around and for your pets:

  • Cedarwood: Helps repel pests and promote healthy skin and coat
  • Chamomile: Promotes relaxation and sleep and also support healthy digestion
  • Lavender: Relieves anxiety from separation or during long trips
  • Myrrh: Can help fight allergies and promote health skin and coat
  • Clary Sage: Calms nervousness and excitability
  • Geranium: Great for repelling pests and as a treatment for ear infections
  • Peppermint: Soothes the pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia and repels pests
  • Carrot Seed: Supports healthy skin as a topical treatment for dryness
  • Ginger: Relieves pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia and supports healthy digestion
  • Helichrysum: Used topically can help with pain relief and skin issues
  • Marjoram: Repels pests and helps treat skin infections and irritations

These are just some of the great essential oils that can be used. If you are interested in learning more, you can always talk to a holistic veterinarian for suggestions for specific ailments.

Safe Use Of Essential Oils

Whether you decide to use aromatherapy for your companion animal or just yourself, it’s important you exercise the safe use of essential oils. Pets have a stronger sense of smell than humans and smaller bodies, so the biggest mistake pet owners make is using too much essential oil.  One of the best ways to avoid this mistake is by using a high quality aromatherapy diffuser that you can control the amount of oil emitted. A high quality aromatherapy diffuser, like the beautiful hand carved diffusers from Organic Aromas can diffuse the perfect amount of essential oil into the air so neither you nor your pets are overwhelmed.

Use High Quality Essential Oils

Another important aspect of using safe essential oils around pets is to use only high-quality therapeutic grade essential oils. Other, lesser-quality essential oils are made with additives or are stretched with carrier oils that may trigger pet sensitivities. They also may be a blend of oils that include other botanicals or absolutes that resemble the smell of the botanical but potentially contain solvents that could be unhealthy for you or your pets. So make sure that you do your due diligence and get the best quality oils like our selection of organic, therapeutic grade essential oils at Organic Aromas.

Many people worry about the impact of essential oils on their pets. However, as long as you use the correct essential oils and avoid any of the oils that may trigger issues for your pets, they are perfectly safe. Also make sure that you are exercising best practices when introducing essential oils into your home by using a quality diffuser and only therapeutic grade oils in a safe and prudent manner. Finally, go slow and monitor your pets to see how they react. Since every pet is different, an essential oil that can benefit one might trigger a different response in another.

Consult Your Veterinarian

1. When it comes to animals and essential oils, we always recommend that pet owners consult with their veterinarian to get advice on the proper way to use them, particularly based on the individual pet’s species, age, size and health history.

2. Research does show essential oils can be safe for dogs and cats and even very effective, but only when diluted heavily and/or used in the appropriate way, time, place and on a specific subject in the correct amount.

3. Using undiluted essential oil on animals is always a mistake. Unless diluted correctly, it’s not recommended for cats, and while it might be effective for dogs, never apply it directly to the animal.

 

Using Essential Oils Around Pets Info-graphic

 

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Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Cat Food?

Cats and dogs have different dietary needs, and should eat food specific to their species.

The Consequences Of Dogs Eating Cat Food

Though these differences in diet may not seem that significant, the higher percentages of protein and fats mean more calories for your dog for the same sized portion of cat food. These richer feline diets can lead to weight gain and even obesity if eaten for extended periods of time.

Also, as a dog’s gastrointestinal system was not designed to digest consistently high-fat foods, cat food can upset the stomach resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Too much fat can negatively affect a dog’s pancreas, leading to pancreatitis, which can at least impact the efficiency of their digestion and at worst have serious health consequences.

Some of the newer cat foods contain an improper balance of vitamins and minerals for your dog, and this may lead to either deficiencies or excesses of these ingredients. As an example, cat food typically contains less zinc and vitamin E than dog food. Cat food also usually contains added taurine, something that dogs do not need in their diet. These nutritional differences can affect your dog’s overall health over a long period of time.

Cat food is richer and can cause your dog to become overweight or obese. vadimmmus/iStock/Thinkstock

Cat food is richer and can cause your dog to become overweight or obese. 

Dogs also need more carbohydrates than cats and often will not get the energy they need without these ingredients in their food. Dogs can consume a diet containing almost 50 percent carbohydrates to give them energy, while a cat gets the majority of its energy from fats.

The higher protein content of most cat foods can pose a metabolic threat to an older dog, especially one that has kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes. A proper dog-specific senior food should be fed to older pooches or a specific prescription canine diet should be fed to dogs with medical conditions.

One question that I am commonly asked, “Is it bad for my dog if it occasionally has some cat food as a snack?” This should not be any worse than if your cat has an occasional doggie biscuit. However, for optimal pet health, I would not recommend incorporating the other pet’s food into your pet’s diet — and instead do all that you can to feed each species of pet its species-specific diet. So as it relates to dogs, ideally I recommend feeding your pup food designed for dogs to avoid health issues.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Just to note, feeding a feline dog food is not advised. Dog foods have been and some continue to be deficient in taurine – an essential amino acid required for cats either not found in some dog foods or not at adequate levels for felines. Arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that cats need, is also often not found in dog food. Other unique nutritional needs of felines are that they cannot synthesize enough niacin, arginine, and vitamin A, along with arachidonic acid, or taurine, and they need five times as much thiamine as dogs do. Also, your pup’s food typically contains more fiber, and this can also upset a cat’s gastrointestinal tract.

Tips To Stop Your Pets From Eating Each Other’s Food

Sometimes the temptation of your cat’s food may be difficult for your dog to resist. To avoid having your dog eating your cat’s food:

  • Feed your cat in a separate room that your dog doesn’t have access to, e.g., feed the dog in the kitchen and the cat in the laundry room.
  • Separate the cat’s feeding area from the rest of the house with a gate that the dog cannot jump over or crawl under.
  • Feed your cat on a high shelf or counter.

If these techniques are not successful at keeping the pooch away, consider getting a cat-sized crate or box into which the dog cannot fit, and feed your cat in the crate/box. Finally, if all else fails, install a pet door to a separate room, such as the laundry room, that is either too small for your dog to use or that is activated by a remote on your cat’s collar. Close the door to deny your dog access to the cat food, and monitor feedings to make sure that each pet eats its own food.

The Bottom Line

So again, more often than not, cat-food-eating canines tend toward being overweight and may often suffer more gastrointestinal ailments because they eat the richer cat food. Diarrhea, vomiting and pancreatitis — which can be life-threatening — are all possible outcomes for either short- or long-term feeding of cat food to dogs. Kitten food, which typically has even higher protein and fat levels, is even less appropriate for dogs. And, again, older dogs and those with established medical conditions may be even more adversely affected by the higher protein and fat levels of cat and especially kitten food.

In many stores where you would purchase pet foods, the commercial dog foods and cat foods are labeled and sold separately for a reason. We should not be feeding our dogs cat food — and we definitely should not be feeding dog food to your cat. It is possible that a dog could eat some cat food as a snack on occasion or even could steal a meal from the cat, but this is not something that you want to promote on a regular basis, because of the potential health problems discussed.