Essential Oils for your Pets: are they safe?

Essential Oils for your Pets: are they safe?

Let’s get right down to business on this subject. I hear or am asked the following regularly when the subject of essential oils comes up:

Are essential oils safe for my dog? 

I’ve heard I shouldn’t use essential oils around my cat. 

I heard essential oils are not safe to use around my pets.


My answer: This issue is Quality.


Most essential oils are purchased from third party vendors. There is no information regarding the quality of the oil, what conventional or organic herbicides or pesticides have been used, what other plants could have been harvested with the plant material the oil was made from, the distillation process (which could produce a LARGE amount of powerful smelling oil but with little therapeutic compounds – kind of like overcooking broccoli. The whole house, or camper in our case, could smell like broccoli after boiling it on high for 10 minutes but the nutritional value is null.), how many times the plant material was distilled, and if the oils was tested for not just purity, but also potency- which will determine not just its safety but IF it could have a therapeutic benefit- whether that be for muscular skeletal relief or for creating a more peaceful environment for your four-legged family members during 4th of July fireworks or a long car ride.


The facts are that most essential oils are labeled 100% pure and even organic and that neither case is true. We are still working with the perfume/cosmetic industry and not only are there no checks and balances, a company can basically say ANYTHING they would like on the label. This has led to well-intended consumers being misled and thinking they had a pure and safe product, basically using harmful chemicals on or near their beloved pet. And yes, using harsh, toxic chemicals could have fatal outcomes, but more often these harmful, everyday products (that are hiding in most of our homes) cause more subtle damage to the integrity of our health, and that is one reason I am so grateful that this subject comes up. It is an opportunity for all of us to dive deeper and open our eyes to the chemicals we may unknowingly expose our beloved pets (and ourselves) to on a daily basis.


Yes, we will discuss shortly how to choose essential oils that ARE SAFE for your fury family members but, first, let’s take a deeper look at everyday products that could be harmful, maybe not right away, but there is a toxic load of bioaccumulation over time of many household and personal care products. We think because a product is on a shelf that it is safe. Did you know that in Europe over 1300 chemicals have been banned and of those only 11 have been outlawed in the US? I have had many newly pregnant friends whose doctors have advised them to change laundry detergents, certain cleaning products and to even stop wearing certain perfumes. 

Our homes are often FULL of endocrine disrupting chemicals and our dogs and cats, small children, and those with compromised immune systems are even more sensitive.


The MOST EMPOWERING thing you can do for you and your pets health is to switch to safe, plant based personal care, cleaning and household products. Some of the most toxic things in our home are our laundry supplies and air fresheners. Have you heard that “fragrances are the new second hand smoke?” Fragrances are NOT pure essential oils. They are synthetics made in a lab! Often essential oils that are labeled 100% pure or even organic are synthetics as well, or cut with synthetics of toxic additives or fillers. How do you know how to choose an actual pure and safe essential oil? Keep reading! But I couldn’t NOT take the opportunity to share the importance and power in reducing toxics in our homes.

Take the ‘Switch to Safer’ Challenge with me! I’m happy to lead you through changing everything from toothpaste (does your toothpaste have a label on the back of it that if you ingest more than a tablespoon to call poison control?), to deodorant (does your deodorant have aluminum?), to your makeup, (check out to explore the chemicals you may be using daily in your beauty regimen!),to clearing out any cleaning products that would be worthy of one of those Mr. Yuk Stickers from the 80s! I invite you to check out ‘All things THIEVES!’ Thieves products are not just plant-based but they are safe and actually beneficial to your immune and respiratory system!

Even if you never use therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe and can be SO beneficial for you and your pets, just ‘Switching to Safer’ Household products can be a game changer for you and your pets wellness!

So, let’s get down to the question at hand! How do you know that your essential oil choices are any different than some of these household products you may have already discovered are misleading yet labeled at ‘natural’ or ‘pure?’ You must do your own research and most companies are not transparent. I choose Young Living Oils because they have a 26 year history of integrity, their OWN farms and distilleries, as well as testing equipment and no other company has. They call it the SEED TO SEAL standard.   All of this makes THESE essential oils SAFE and beneficial for your WHOLE FAMILY, including fury family members. 

Why is it important to have that kind of transparency? Their own farms and distilleries? Let’s take Lavender oil for example. Lavender is probably the most well know essential oil and quite beneficial for skin support when used topically and creating a calm environment when used aromatically, however, if you don’t know how the plant was grown and harvested, there could be problems. As you learned above if you looked more deeply into the Seed to Seal process, Young Living doesn’t even use organic herbicides or pesticides, grow on soil that isn’t virgin or free of conventional farming for at least 50 years (to be considered organic the conversion time is less than 5 years, and that is not enough time to clean the soil!) Young Living is therefore ‘Beyond Organic’ if that’s a question you have, but let’s go further using Lavender as the example. Lavender, bought from a third party, can actually be Lavadin. It smells similar, is a different species, and is TOXIC to small dogs. Even if the farm is growing lavender, and even if it is organic, it most likely is growing with camphor. Camphor is also toxic to small dogs! Young Living hand weeds camphor from their lavender fields.

That is just ONE example of how important quality and transparency is. Young Living has been using essential oils safely for over 25 years. Now that we have found a quality that is safe, the rest is easy! Let’s discuss how to use essential oils safely not just aromatically and topically, but –yes- even internally! I told you these are NOT perfume oils! 

 I believe that animals have an innate ability to know what they need for health. When working with essential oils, we use their natural instinct and allow the animal to choose what products they prefer. This method is safe, effective, and simple, and it strengthens the bond between you and your animal. Simply allow the animal to choose by keeping the lid on the essential oil and let them smell it. I stress ‘by keeping the lid on’ because having them smell it directly can be TOO STRONG! The average dog’s nose is 1000x’s as sensitive as humans. A domestic cat's is about 14x’s as strong. Introduce SLOWLY. Believe me, they can smell the oil with the lid on! 

Their "choice" or a positive sign looks like prolonged sniffing, interest, or even licking indicates they like the oil and it can be used. I often have dogs and horses licking my hands after I’ve applied essential oils! (That’s a positive response!!) A negative choice will be completely ignoring it, barely giving it a sniff, or actual avoidance. Never force a product on an animal.


Using Essential Oils* Aromatically

If you are diffusing or using oils for yourself while your pets are around, make sure there is an open door or window so they can leave.  Do you know any cat that will stay put when it doesn't like something going on? I didn't think so. With all the hype going around about essential oils and cats, I understand people are very sensitive and cautious. Good, I'm glad you are.

The three most important things when being cautious on behalf of your pet while using oils are to check the QUALITY of oil (not all are created equal*), letting your pet CHOOSE, and providing an OUT.


1. Let them come to you & let the first oil you introduce be a gentle oil like lavender

2. When diffusing, be sure there is ventilation and the animal is not confined. 

3. Start diffusing in short segments and gradually increase the time.

4. If you don’t have a cold-air diffuser, try a cotton ball or unbleached coffee filter! They can easily be hung in a stall or car vent 

5. Placing an oil on their favorite toy is a great introduction! 

6. Placing oils on US is aromatherapy too!


Topical Application Dilution Ratios for our Furry, Feathery and Scaly Companions

When using essential oils topically, dilute with a carrier oil to a ratio dependent on their size. A carrier oil is any organic vegetable oil such as coconut, olive or grapeseed!


  • Cats, Ferrets, Rabbits, Reptiles: 75-90%
  • Hamsters, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, etc: 85-90%
  • Birds, Amphibians : 90-95%
  • Horses, Cows, and other large animals- Neat (undiluted) Except for ‘hot’ oils like oregano or cinnamon
  • DOGS

            Small dogs: 75% (1-25lbs)

            Medium dogs: 50% (26-50lbs)

            Large dogs: 25% (50-75lbs)

            Extra Large: 0-25% (76+ lbs)

  • CATS 

Because of the special nature of cats, use Essential oils only as needed for acute care and on a daily basis only in chronic cases. Cats who live in environments where Eos are used are already getting plenty of beneficial molecules on a daily basis!


            Spread a small amount of EO dilution on your finger and allow the bird to perch or spread a small amount diluted on the birds perch inside the cage. A gentle floral midst of oils like lavender, orange, lemon or grapefruit is like home for birds! A toothpick may be dipped in a diluted EO and very gently used on the bottom of birds feet


Where is the BEST place to apply topically?

Applying to the bottoms of feet, paws, hooves are great options! 


Oils can also be applied to the tips and auricular points of the ears. This application is known as ‘tipping.’ **Only apply to the backs of FLOPPY EARS as to not get Oils iN the animals eyesdog ears.jpg



Now that we know how to introduce, use, and apply..... let’s talk Oils! 



Everyone has heard of Lavender. It is frequently referred to as "the Swiss army knife of Oils."

Well, just as lavender can be calming to you and me, it can be to your animal as well. It’s also wonderful for skin support!


DIY hack

Make your own Skin Soothing Essential Gel Recipe for your animal!

- approximately 50 mls of water-based gel (aloe vera)

- 5-20 drops of essential oils (max of 5 different oils)

- whisk together and you are done!

Apply this calming gel to underbelly or any sensitive skin areas when needed. 

Cedarwood & Geranium & Frankincense

Cedarwood → Can be calming and grounding.

Frankincense → Incredibly grounding. Calming. Soothing to the skin.

Geranium→ Mix with Cedarwood & Lavender for an outdoor spray. Supports healthy skin. Can be balancing and grounding.

DIY Collar for Dogs

1 cup of water

5 drops Lavender

2 drops Citronella

1 drop Cedarwood

2 drops Geranium

Mix in a bowl, put in your pet's collar, soak for 5 minutes, remove from liquid, and then let it dry before using.

***Make sure you listen to your animal and that they approve of the whole concoction first.



Citrus Fresh™

Citrus Fresh is relaxing and calming and it smells SO good. Think citrus with a hint of mint.

Ever tired of that "dog" or "cat" smell?

To help with pet odors, diffuse this blend around the house or wherever the litter box is located. You can also create a spray and use it on your furniture. If you notice your pet is avoiding the Citrus Fresh spray, you can either use that to your advantage (to keep the cat off the couch) or switch to a different oil to freshen the air such as Purification, Lavender, or anything else you enjoy.  

To create your room freshening spray, add 20 drops of Citrus Fresh or your oil of choice to distilled water in a 4 oz glass spray bottle.


Single oils contained in this blend:

- Orange brings peace and happiness to the mind and body.

- Tangerine is calming to the nervous system.

- Mandarin promotes happiness. It is also refreshing, uplifting, and revitalizing.

- Grapefruit is balancing and uplifting to the mind.

- Lemon promotes health and physical energy.

- Spearmint is uplifting to one’s spirit.


Would you like more information? Enjoy this Pets & Oils 101 Class and learn more about introducing your cats, dogs and even horses to essential oils and some of the oils that can become such beneficial household favorites for you and all your fury family members! You can also learn more about Young Living’s Animal Scents line, specifically formulated for our fury family members in their catalogue.