Do you have a box of essential oils and you’ve been wondering if they’re safe to use around your dog? There’s a common misconception that natural ingredients are always safe but in fact, some natural substances can be highly toxic and irritating even though they are obtained from plants. Poison ivy is a great example. It can be a real pain when rubbed on the skin! I repeat 100% natural does not man 100% safe.
Due to their high concentration, essential oils are especially prone to misuse.
Most aromatherapy books will discourage you from using certain essential oils. Please don’t be curious and decide to try them. Not even on yourself. You could suffer from a range of mild to serious consequences.
With dogs, avoid essential oils that are high in phenols and ketones as well as all essential oils considered toxic. At the end of this blog I will share the list of essential oils that I recommend avoiding with animals.
Why should you avoid essential oils high that are high in phenols and ketones?
Here’s a little bit of chemistry. I know that just the thought of organic chemistry can be daunting but bear with me and stay till the end. I’ll keep it as simple as possible and you may even find it as fascinating as I do!
Simply said, each essential oil has a dominant chemical group or groups which determine the effect of the oil. For example, esters are the calming components of certain essential oils, aldehydes have generally speaking sedative and antiviral effects and monoterpene alcohols have tonifying, antibacterial and antiviral effects.
These above-mentioned phenols are very strong and stimulating compounds. They have very powerful antibacterial properties but are, however, highly irritating to the skin. Some oils that are high in phenols are Oregano, Savory and Thyme.
Although my focus has been dogs, let me just mention that cats are particularly sensitive to phenols and you should avoid essential oils high in phenols with animals in general.
Another chemical compound that should be avoided are ketones. Ketones are very powerful chemical constituents that aid in tissue regeneration and have a strong mucolytic effect, meaning they help in the production and elimination of mucous. They are also potentially neurotoxic and abortive. Saying this though, not all ketones are bad. Some essential oils like Helichrysum, Peppermint, Vetiver and Eucalyptus contain small amounts of beneficial ketones. Oils with a high ketone content and that should be avoided are: Rue, Santolina, Mugwort, Thuja and Pennyroyal.
Tea Tree oil
A special mention must be made to Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Tea Tree essential oil has strong antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral insect repelling properties.
There were reported cases when the oil was applied dermally to dogs and cats. In most cases, the oil was used in inappropriately and in high doses The high demand and mass production of Tea Tree oil opens the gates for adulterated and poor quality oils to reach the market. This is resulting in more adverse reactions and irritations in humans and animals.
Don’t use undiluted Tea Tree oil on skin, because of the risk of sensitization. And it’s very important to avoid old or oxidized oil!
Try instead the more gentle yet powerful relative of the Tea Tree oil, the Niaouli.
I hope you found this video helpful and if you have any questions please comment below.