I was waiting at the counter of my dentist's office. They were printing my receipt and the receptionist was making small talk with me.
"So what are you going to do today?" she asked.
I replied, "I'm going home to do some work. "
"Oh, what do you do?'
"I'm an aromatherapist."
I love seeing people's reactions. Either they have no clue what I'm talking about or they get super excited and ask me questions. The receptionist was the latter of the two.
"Can I ask you a question? My dog had a bad reaction when I ran my diffuser. Is it okay if dogs are around essential oils?"
First, let me give you a disclaimer. I have NOT been clinically trained in animal aromatherapy. It is on my wish list for the future, but right now I'm focusing on helping the human species. :) But I will give you some basic information I have learned through my own self-guided education. If you would like to learn more, my suggested reference is Kelly Holland Azzaro. She is the animal aromatherapy guru. She is a Registered Aromatherapist with MANY other certifications and licenses. Her Animal Aromatherapy Practitioner Certification Course is NAHA approved. For more information about Kelly, feel free to check out her website.
Here are some general guidelines that I have learned:
1. Avoid use of essential oils with cats. They lack enzymes that allow them to metabolize oils. This can lead to a toxic overload. No one wants that to happen.
2. When diffusing essential oils, make sure your animal is not crated/caged and can leave the room if they want to. Oils can be overpowering to them.
3. Dogs like to lick the area where an essential oil is applied. If they have an adverse reaction, wash the area with soap and water.
4. Essential oils should always be diluted when applied topically. Avoid eyes, ears, mouth, genitals, and nose.
5. Never give essential oils orally to an animal.
Basically, do NOT force essential oils on an animal. We know that animals have a greater sense of smell than humans. What they don't have is the ability to talk. So their way of telling us that they don't like being around the essential oils is by leaving the room. Let them.
Essential oils can be wonderful for pets when used properly. I have diffused Lavender during our neighborhood fireworks to calm my aging dog. Essential oils seemed to really help her in her last few months and she enjoyed them. But my current puppy tends to leave the room when I diffuse certain aromas. I respect that and diffuse a very minimal amount and far away from where she is resting.
Just like people, dogs can have different reactions to essential oils. When diffusing, go "low an' slow" (aka minimal amount for a short time.) Check your animal's behavior. Does something seem off? If so, stop diffusing and get the dog to fresh air. Major adverse reaction? Call your vet.
Before using any essential oils topically, I would seek guidance from an aromatherapist who specializes in animals. There are some oils that are contraindicated for animals. They can give you proper dilution ratios and protocols for your animal's needs. It's always worth it to check with a professional first. Your furry friends will thank you!