Click here for information and latest updates on our activities (COVID-19)

Using Essential Oils with Pets: the myths

Let's clear up some important details about essential oils and their use in animals!

Myth # 1: Essential oils are a safe and gentle medicine

According to the definition of alternative medicine, NO, the use of essential oils is not one. There is potential for toxicity and damage depending on the concentration, dosage and use of the oils.

Knowing this,YES, it is possible to make safe use of it for oneself, for children and for animals by respecting certain basic principles and by informing from valid scientific sources.les.

Myth # 2: All essential oils are toxic to cats

There is a lot of confusion about this. Dr. Melissa Shelton makes a good summary in the chapter « Metabolism Theory »1 and in the following, « Just the science », including 8 pages of bibliographies of scientific articles showing that cats are cats, and do not metabolize molecules in general like dogs and humans !.ns!).

Basically, the confusion for phenols comes from research done in 1972 (there has been, research and medical advances since that time!) which, when you read it correctly, does not refer to the use of essential oils, but rather to the injection of benzyl alcohol, which is a synthetic molecule from the phenol family.

That is not here the presence of phenols which one should be wary of with cats and other animals, but rather the quantity and quality of the oils used. For example, an oil that is of low quality will have greater toxic potential than a therapeutic grade oil, even if they have the same percentage of phenols in the analyzes. And it's not just phenols that are targeted with cats!

That being said:Can cats metabolize essential oils?

Yes, they can, no, their effects do not accumulate in the liver. Cats are cats. They are individuals of a particular species, who function differently from dogs and humans. This means that a cat's metabolism can be faster or slower than that of a dog or a human for the same molecule. It is the basis of the concepts of dosage of drugs the doses for a dog, for a cat and for a human are not the same!).

Essential oils should always be seen as medicine: each species has its safe dosage, its frequency of safe use and its safe modes of use.

The metabolism of a cat can very well eliminate a certain component which is formed naturally in its body let us take the example of billirubine, whereas when these enzymes are formed to metabolize phenols, there is a smaller quantity which is eliminated than when they are natural.

Research shows that cats have a weakened ability to metabolize phenols through the liver, which does not mean that they do not metabolize them at all. Research suggests that phenols are not only metabolized by the liver in cats. Indeed, although cats have deficiencies in the enzymes of the liver compared to certain other species, it seems that their way of metabolizing phenols is simply different and slower.

Most cases of toxicity reported in cats (and other animals, and children!) are cases of misuse, poor quality and / or wrong dosage. Few scientific studies prove the real toxicity of the presence of certain components in essential oils for animals in diffusion. We especially see cases of severe skin irritation or intoxication by ingestion, but always in uncontrolled settings.

Another common example: the teatree. Yes, this oil killed cats. The cases reported concern cats in which a low quality of probably synthesized oil has been used, and in large quantities. Another case involved a cat who had contact with an essential oil store from a natural health product store, had seizures and died the next day. The most used research to talk about the toxicity of this oil, on the other hand, is a reported case where three cats had more than 60ml of essential oil on them to keep away the fleas with which they were infested2), and licked it. This is an obvious case of overdose, where even a human would have had harmful effects!

Some research has made oils toxic by ingestion of more than 50ml by rabbits. First, 50ml of liquid at once, for a dwarf rabbit, it's like 2L for a human... there is a risk of drowning just at this amount. In addition, giving pure essential oil to drink to an animal, and above all in these quantities, is a form of mistreatment.

1 SHELTON, M. The Animal Desk Reference II: Essential Oils for Animals. Self Published, 2018. ISBN: 9781986827010. Pages 34 to 53.

2 BELL, K. L. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & amp; Hydrosols with Animals. Inner Traditions / Bear, 2012. ISBN: 9781844099603., Pages 164-165

Myth # 3: Essential oils are just used to smell good

Well no! Not only can they be used to soothe muscle pain, but also to help sleep, to increase concentration, to boost the immune system, to counter certain diseases and even to help manage emotions.

They can be used in the kitchen, as in diffusion on a jewel or a fabric to better concentrate in the office, but also to help to calm down or to calm other people around... Aromatherapy!