Essential Oils for Pets: What Works and What to Avoid

If you’ve fallen in love with essential oils for yourself and your family, you may have wondered if they can be safe and effective for your pets as well. The answer is yes – but only if administered in the right way and if you avoid certain essential oils that may be harmful to them. Here is an introduction on how to use essential oils for pets to enhance the health of your four-legged family members.

Essential Oils and Pets: 5 Key Considerations Before Using Essential Oils With Your Dog or Cat

Before we dive into what essential oils are considered safe for pets in specific situations, here are some overarching guidelines for using essential oils with your furry friends:

#1 – Remember that your pet is “wired for smell.”

According to research from Alabama A & M University and others, humans have about 5 million olfactory receptors in our nasal passages, which are microscopic proteins that allow us to detect odors. That sounds like a lot, but this number pales in comparison to how many your dog has.


A dog has anywhere from 149 million to 300 million, which makes their sense of smell 10,000 to 100,00 times more acute than a human’s sense of smell.

To put it into perspective, while you might be able to detect a teaspoon of sugar in your cup of morning coffee (if you’re awake enough), Fido can detect that same amount of sugar in the equivalent of two Olympic-sized pools worth of coffee.

Your pooch’s sense of smell is very sensitive so take it slow when introducing a new essential oil.

The same guidelines apply with other domestic animals. Although dogs rule the roost when it comes to their sniffers, cats have up to 80 million receptors while rabbits have about 100 million. According to David Whitaker, PhD, of Middle Tennessee State University’s Horse Science Center, “Horses depend on their sense of smell the way we depend on language.”

If your main goal is to eventually use an oil topically or internally (only under vet guidance) with a pet, you may consider wearing a small amount of the essential oil yourself first and allowing your pet to get used to it by simply being around you.

Another method to gauge their reaction is to let your pet sniff the bottles with the covers firmly closed. Some experts even recommend letting your pet “choose” what oils they’re attracted to. Many different oils will usually work to accomplish the same goal. Therefore, you can set out 3 to 5 different appropriate oils on the floor (spread apart) and allow your pet to sniff the closed bottles and “select” the one they’re most interested in.

If you diffuse essential oils in your home, make sure your pet isn’t trapped in a room with the diffuser with no way to get away from the smell.

#2 – Keep your pet’s size in mind.

This may seem like common sense, but it’s worth stating. Remember that essential oils are powerful concentrations of plant essences. A little goes a long way – especially when used on animals and dilution is incredibly important.


Essential oil particles (also called esters) are so small that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream with equal potency whether inhaled, ingested, or applied topically. Once in there, they work quickly on the body and brain.

Pet animals (usually) have much smaller bodies than humans, so proceed slowly and cautiously so you don’t overwhelm their senses. The smaller the animal, the more diluted an oil will need to be.

#3 – Keep it all-natural.

Don’t expose your four-legged family members to harmful chemicals that may do them more harm than good. These days you simply can’t assume that because an essential oil product says “all-natural,” that it’s chemical-free.

Read labels carefully. A truly natural essential oil will usually say “food grade,” “supplement grade,” or “100% organic” somewhere on the packaging. If you’re not sure, check out the company’s website or contact them directly.

If you’re still not convinced that the oil is of the highest quality and purity, it’s best not to use it. (Hint: If you purchased the essential oil at a grocery store, drug store, or gas station, chances are it isn’t the quality you should be using for health purposes.)

Fragrance oils and fragrances in products like air fresheners are harmful to your pet. Your precious pets can’t tell you they don’t like the products you’re using around them, so you need to pay attention to their needs and reactions.

#4 – Don’t use essential oils with pregnant, nursing, or baby animals.

Unless you’re working with someone qualified who can properly advise you, the safest bet is just to avoid using essential oils with any animal under 8-12 weeks as well as pregnant and lactating mothers.

Cat and Dog together in bedroom

It’s difficult to make blanket statements about essential oils for “pets” because cats have some extra considerations even beyond those for dogs.

For example, many holistic vets recommend avoiding citrus oils and certain kinds of cedar essential oils with cats. Yet these oils are often included in DIY flea treatment recipes for dogs. “Warming oils” such as cinnamon are also usually NOT recommended for cats.

If you have both a cat and dog in your home you may need to limit what oils you use with your dog to accommodate your cat’s sensitivities.

Tea Tree Oil for Dogs & Other Pets: A Little is Beneficial. A Lot Can Be Deadly.

As mentioned above, a small amount of the right essential oil may be beneficial for your pet but too much may cause harm. This is especially the case with tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca).

While tea tree oil is safe for most adult humans, it can be downright lethal for pets if used undiluted.

A 2014 report published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association analyzed case studies obtained by U.S. Poison Control Centers over a 10-year period.

In close to 350 dogs and over 100 cats who were exposed to 100% (meaning undiluted) melaleuca essential oil, 77% developed toxicity-related reactions. Symptoms included weakness, lack of coordination, muscle tremors, drooling, depression, skin rashes, elevated enzyme levels in the liver and, in some cases, vomiting and coma. Smaller animals such as cats and kittens were most affected.

tea tree oil on a leaf

That being said, holistic vet experts such as Dr. Karen Becker, owner of Natural Pet Animal Care in Chicago, support that a VERY WEAK dilution of 0.1% to 1.0% strength* (diluted in water) of tea tree can be safely used on dogs to treat skin irritations or “hot spots,” wounds, infections, and even drug and environmental allergies. An important note that tea tree oil dilutions should be given to animals as a topical only, never orally.

*For reference, a 1.0% dilution is basically one (1) drop of essential oil in one (1) teaspoon of carrier oil or water. Therefore for a 0.1% dilution, you would use one (1) drop of essential oil to ten (10) teaspoons of carrier oil/water.

Using Safe Essential Oils Topically With Your Pets

Experts also state that for the topical use of safe essential oils for pets, very small animals like small dogs, cats, and rabbits can start out with 3 to 5 drops of DILUTED essential oil at a 0.25% dilution rate.

As an example of how to get a 0.25% dilution, you would mix 4 teaspoons of carrier oil and one (1) drop of essential oil together. You would then use a maximum of 3-5 drops of that diluted mixture with your pet. Again, this is ONLY with essential oils considered safe for pets.

If you’re unsure whether a dosage or a particular oil is safe for your pet, please connect with a local holistic veterinarian or qualified aromatherapist who can guide you. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has a “Find a Vet” link on their website that can help you track down a holistic vet in your area.

Good Carrier Oils to Use With Pets

When you’re diluting essential oils there are many different oils that can be used. Some goods carrier oils to use with pets for topical application include:

Essential Oils for Pet Problems

Now that you know what to watch out for when it comes to your pets and essential oils, when might you consider using essential oils for pets? Below is a listing of some common pet health conditions that often benefit from essential oils.


Ticks & Fleas

Ticks and fleas are probably the most widespread concern for spreading certain kinds of diseases and also for just being downright annoying for humans and pets alike. Many pet owners are also concerned with the toxicity levels of commercial flea & tick collars, topicals, and pills.

This concern is founded on a stark reality: many of the top flea- and tick-killing brands contain carcinogens and chemicals that can affect the nervous system.

You can make your own natural flea & tick repellents for your dog and cat using safe, high-quality essential oils for pets. Rosemary, lavender, and peppermint essential oils are popular in DIY recipes for dogs – both for their fresh small, as well as the ability to help to repel fleas.

There are a variety of recipes available online – just be sure you’re getting your information from a reputable site and using high-quality oils. Also, remember the tip above to pay special attention to oils used with cats.

Itchy skin

We already mentioned that small, very heavily diluted amounts of tea tree may do the trick with dogs, but there are other essential oils that can also calm hot spots. For example, small amounts of yarrow (especially from deep blue flowers), can help with these conditions. It can also stop bleeding for minor cuts and scrapes, such as trimming a nail too much into the quick, since it acts as an anti-inflammatory.

According to Janet Roark, DVM (aka “The Essential Oil Vet”), frankincense “helps soothe skin that is irritated, itchy or damaged, particularly when used in conjunction with lavender. It also relaxes and soothes sore muscles and joints in older animals.”


Ever had a cat that wouldn’t go into the cat cage no matter how much cajoling you did? Diffusing a little lavender essential oil may do the trick! Linalool and linalyl acetate are the terpenes (plant chemicals) in lavender that are most responsible for its calming effect on mammalian nervous systems.

Of course, cats are unique creatures and there are felines that absolutely detest lavender. If you have a lavender-hating cat, never try and force the issue.

For cats and dogs that seem amenable to it, you can use 100% organic lavender essential oil in a cold-mist diffuser in your home an hour or so before you’re ready to go or apply a tiny amount (again, heavily diluted in a carrier oil as stated above) on the back of the neck. Lavender is also great for dogs and cats who get jittery before traveling in general.

Confusion – For Dogs Only

Natural Lemon Oil

For dogs that have moved homes a lot, need to learn new information, or are getting a little confused, diffusing lemon essential oil is uplifting and clarifying. It is also reported to help increase trust in others, which can be helpful if you’re introducing a new family member.

Lemon oil is also an antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic agent which makes it great for helping to clean the air in homes. Reminder: Lemon oil is a citrus oil and should not be given to cats topically or orally.

Immune System Support

Frankincense oil has been known to boost immune system function. Take caution when using frankincense on pets, however. A tiny amount of diluted oil is all that is needed. You may wish to increase your dilution rate and get the guidance of your vet before using this potent essential oil.

Essential Oils Bad for Pets: The Ones to Avoid!

The discussion continues between animal experts as to which herbs and essential oils to completely avoid with pets. The following generally make the essential oils bad for pets list (i.e., the ones to always avoid).

Once again, be sure to contact your veterinary health professional if you are ever unsure about whether or not an essential oil is safe to use with YOUR pet and ALWAYS ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.

Essential Oils Generally Considered Safe to Use With Animals

Natural Essential Oils by Organixx

The following list contains oils considered safe for use with animals in general. This doesn’t mean these oils are safe for all animals, nor does it mean they’re all good for your individual pet.

Animals, like people, are unique and what works for one may not work for another. As mentioned above, always seek guidance from a professional if you’re ever unsure what you’re doing.

Closing Points to Consider When it Comes to Using Essential Oils With Pets

Just like the human body, the bodies of dogs, cats, and other pets contain innate healing mechanisms within. When given a chance, the body will naturally move towards balance and potential healing.

Using essential oils responsibly and conservatively can, in many cases, help bring an animal’s body back into balance without the potential side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

For people who are afraid of using essential oils with and around pets based on stories they’ve read on social media, rest assured that most toxicity or adverse events are the result of gross misuse and overdosage situations (i.e., full undiluted applications).

Melissa Shelton, DVM, and author of Animal Desk Reference: Essential Oils for Animals offered this advice in response to a viral Facebook post about a cat dying after being exposed to essential oils.

So often, essential oils are the obvious thing to blame when an animal all of a sudden appears ill. And the internet is an easy way to find support of this theory. However, in true clinical evaluation, I often find very poor cause and effect relationships. With the vast number of people using essential oils in their home, we can be quick to get into a trap of blaming any illness upon the presence of essential oils. And this, we need to be careful to avoid.

I have consulted with many veterinarians who missed the true diagnosis for weeks, due to the assumption that the essential oils were at the root cause. While I will never say essential oils cannot hurt an animal, we also need to be realistic that when a Facebook post is shared over half a million times, all to animal loving people – the statistics are in the favor of someone also having an animal that falls sick at the time of reading it.

The key takeaways when it comes to essential oils for pets are: quality matters, introduce slowly, dilute heavily, and seek guidance. If you follow these guidelines you’ll undoubtedly experience the amazing positive benefits of using essential oils with your precious pets.

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Is Your Dog or Cat's "Healthy" Diet Missing These 7 Key Elements?

Dog and cat food comes in all shapes, flavors, varieties, and formulas. But it might surprise you to learn that even high-end dog and cat food brands that you assume are “healthy” are often still missing one vital ingredient… enzymes.

In fact, much of the pet food on store shelves is lacking in at least seven unique enzyme types that are critical for healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. Enzymes are inherently delicate and very easily damaged or destroyed by heat and other factors [1].

Enzymes are typically absent from anything that’s been cooked or processed – including most major pet food brands on the market today. This is a serious problem. Without enzymes in their diets, dogs and cats are deprived of an important energetic substance that directly contributes to [2]:

All of these are vital for your four-legged friend to live a long and vivacious life.

Without Enzymes, Pet’s Bodies Are Forced to Compensate

dog waiting for food by bowlThere are essentially two classes of enzyme that dogs and cats need for optimal health [3]:

  1. digestive enzymes
  2. metabolic enzymes

The two are very similar, with the primary difference being that digestive enzymes are supposed to come from food, while metabolic enzymes are manufactured inside the body.

When animals consume what they were designed to eat (living foods that haven’t been cooked or otherwise altered), they get plenty of digestive enzymes naturally.

This allows the metabolic enzymes to perform their respective duties. Unfortunately, most pets aren’t given the raw food diets of their wild ancestors, and their bodies need to adjust to make up for the enzyme deficiency.

Metabolic enzymes can be repurposed to serve as digestive enzymes when necessary. Your pet’s body can produce a finite (limited) amount of enzymes before exhausting itself and depleting its internal stores. This is when problems like digestive dysfunction start to arise, which can eventually progress into various chronic diseases.

This grim scenario is obviously something that every pet owner wants to avoid, which is why it’s critical to take action before the situation spirals out of control. This requires either completely revamping your pet’s diet to include more raw and native foods, or actively supplementing it with digestive enzymes in order to fill the nutritional gap.

A Healthy Diet for Dogs & Cats Requires Enzymes

Not everyone has the time and budget to prepare a well-balanced raw food diet for their pet on a daily basis. Many conscious pet owners choose to enhance their pets’ existing diets with a high-quality enzyme supplement, making them more nutritionally complete.

But what, exactly, constitutes a high-quality enzyme supplement? And more specifically, which enzymes are most critical for the health of your pet?

It all starts with the four basic types of digestive enzymes: amylase, protease, lipase, and cellulose [4].

#1: Amylase, an enzyme primarily found in saliva and pancreatic fluid that’s responsible for converting starches and glycogens into simple sugars. In essence, amylase catalyzes the conversion of carbohydrates into smaller monosaccharides like glucose, fructose, and galactose that a pet’s body can actually absorb. These monosaccharides travel through the intestines into the blood and liver, where they’re transformed into a usable source of energy.

If your pet pal seems to lack energy on a regular basis, this could be a sign of an amylase deficiency. This is because carbohydrates consumed aren’t being broken down into their simplest and most usable forms for energy production. Other common symptoms of amylase deficiency include skin rashes, constipation and gas, and blood sugar problems [5], which represent many of the same symptoms associated with other enzyme deficiencies.

#2: Protease, or proteolytic enzyme, is responsible for hydrolyzing, or breaking down, the peptide bonds of food proteins in amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins that a pet’s body utilizes for basically every essential biological process. Whether it’s generating new cell tissue, building muscle mass, manufacturing hormones, or balancing fat stores, amino acids are there to make it happen [6].

#3: Lipase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lipids, which are also known as fats. In the presence of triglycerides, lipase works alongside liver bile to split fat molecules into their base components, which include fatty acids and monoglycerides: two fundamental fat compounds that function as backup sources of energy for a pet’s body, as well as fuel for the central nervous, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems [7].

#4: Cellulase is an enzyme that tackles the breakdown and assimilation of vegetable fibers and other cellular material found in plants. Like other enzymes, it converts larger, less-absorbable substances into smaller, more absorbable substances. Unlike amylase, protease, and lipase, cellulase isn’t produced inside a pet’s body at all, which means it has to be supplemented through nutrition.

You may be surprised to learn that your pet may not be getting everything they need from their food. Watch this video to learn more about the seven critical nutrients that are likely missing from your pet’s diet.

#5: Bromelain is another digestive enzyme similar to protease that helps ease the burden of breaking down proteins. Most commonly found in the flesh and stems of pineapples, bromelain has been found to support healthy inflammation levels, help relieve pain, reduce swelling, and boost wound healing [8].

A 2010 mouse study published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease reported that bromelain given to mice with colitis “decreases inflammation severity and the incidence and multiplicity of inflammation-associated colonic neoplasiahas [9].”

#6: Xylanase plays a more distinct enzymatic role, breaking down a very specific type of fiber known as hemicellulose, found in vegetable and plant matter, into a simple sugar known as xylose. Xylanase works to produce more food matter for the beneficial bacteria that live inside a pet’s gut, as this collective microbiome is responsible for extracting and assimilating nutrients while further supporting the digestive process [10].

#7: Beta glucanase is actually a grouping of enzymes that, similar to amylase, is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates. It differs, however, in the fact that it targets a specific type of polysaccharide known as beta glucans that, without the presence of beta glucanase, can’t be digested naturally by your pet’s body.

Beta glucans function as a type of intestinal fiber that helps to promote regularity, balance cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also prevent the formation of damaging bacterial growths known as “biofilms” that directly contribute to the formation of malignant yeast overgrowths like Candida albicans [11].

Why Your Pet Needs More Enzymes

When all of these powerful enzymes are joined together, they create a digestive army of synergistic crusaders that ensures every last nutrient in your pet’s food is put to good use.

This enzymatic entourage also frees up your pet’s metabolic enzymes to perform their normal functions, rather than picking up the slack of the digestive enzymes that are nowhere to be found in most store-bought kibble.

Remember: Even if the food you give your pet falls on the healthier end of the spectrum, it’s more than likely still deficient in enzymes. That’s why most pets can still benefit greatly when their food is fortified with natural, living enzymes.

Oh, and by the way… people need enzymes too!

Organixx Enzyme 17 contains a whopping FIVE kinds of powerful protease enzymes in combination with one of the most advanced enzyme blends on the planet. It’s scientifically designed to help your body break down and process nutrients for better absorption, digestion, and overall health.

ENZYME 17 - Advanced Enzyme Formula