Wendy’s Animal Talk, Host Wendy Nan Rees, Guest Russell Louie
Safe Aromatherapy and My Pet, Part 2, June 16, 2009, 1-2:00 PM PDT
So, just to recap from our last show, how are essential oils Nature’s medicine chest?
Wendy, wild animals will instinctually seek out certain plants and eat them for the plant’s healing properties. For instance, when bears exit their hibernation cycle in the spring they eat certain berries and plants to purge their bodies. When wild dogs, wolves, cats and horses are sick they seek out certain plants to eat in order to get well. I am sure you have observed cats eating grass then throwing up to clean out their digestive tract. As we domesticated animals, they lost most of this instinct and their access to wild plants. By giving essential oils to our pets when they are ill, we provide them access to nature’s medicine chest.
If they are Nature’s medicine chest, as you say, why is the title of our show today Safe Aromatherapy and My Pet?
Well, Wendy, just like all medicines one needs to respect their therapeutic potential and not give an inappropriate dosage for their smaller bodies. Just because something is all-natural, does not make it automatically safe for their bodies. Cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils and one must be careful not to use citrus oil on or around them.
Let’s pick up right there, where we were talking about cats. One of my listeners had concerns about using any essential oils on cats.
This is certainly a subject for debate among aromatherapists. Remember from our last show, I stated cat’s livers do not have the necessary enzymes to break down and excrete certain chemical compounds in essential oils. These chemical compounds, therefore, can accumulate in a cat’s body sometimes to the point of toxicity. I don’t think there is enough research yet to conclusively prove all essential oils are totally safe for cats. On the other hand, many aromatherapist and holistic vets have been using essential oils on their cats for years without any apparent harmful effects. I even talked to an aromatherapist who worked at the Denver Zoo who used essential oils on cats.
So, in the absence of scientific evidence to prove or disprove essential oils are safe for cats I like to give listeners both sides and let them decide what is best for their cat. I personally would rather err on the side of caution rather than take a chance of causing long-term liver damage to my cat. I think an accurate statement would be that essential oil usage on cats have provided many visible short-term benefits but the long-term side effects are still unknown.
I like to keeps things simple for cats and use just the gentler essential oils like lavender or chamomile for their calming effects and rose or geranium for their healing effects on the skin. For arthritis and joint problems, I prefer to use homeopaths or acupuncture instead of the stronger essential oils.
Do you use essential oils on your cats?
I prefer to use hydrosols on my cats rather than essential oils. Hydrosols are the by-products of essential oil distillation. Hydrosols are the distilled water that is left after the essential oils are filtered out from the distillation process. The safer compounds have an affinity for water and are safe for cats. The caustic compounds, such as the phenols and ketones, do not appear in hydrosols but stay in the essential oils themselves. There are no known case histories of hydrosols causing toxicity in cats. Hydrosols of chamomile and a combination of rose, lavender, geranium and neroli are known to have a calming effect on cats. Wounds can be cleaned with diluted lavender, rose, geranium, and chamomile oil or their hydrosols. Itching can be alleviated using witch hazel, rose, lavender or German chamomile.
If one chooses to use essential oils around cats, what precautions should one take?
We have a chart entitled Essential Oils to Avoid on Cats on our website www.OptimumChoices.com. Here are some rules that I would personally follow when using any of these oils:
1. If I use any of the oils in the charts on myself or around the house, I keep the cats away for at least one hour. I never diffuse in the air any of the oils in the charts or blends containing these oils around cats. This is very important. When using a blend always look on the label for the individual essential oils it contains.
2. I never keep cats in an enclosed area when diffusing oils. I always keep a window open or put the cat in a different part of the house.
3. If I want to use essential oils on cats, I always use a highly diluted formula with essential oils. A 1% dilution would be one drop of essential oil to 99 drops of carrier oil. When in doubt I use hydrosols instead of essential oils on cats. Hydrosols are water-based, gentler and much easier to tolerate.
4. When using cleaning products with the above essential oils, especially citrus or pine, I keep the cats away and off the floor until it dries. I make sure I rinse and dry the surface as thoroughly as possible.
Can I use essential oils straight out of the bottle?
Most companion animals have considerably less body mass than a human adult, so I always use diluted essential oils. The rule-of-thumb I use for small animals is to start with a 3–4% dilution: that is 1 drop essential oil to 24 drops of carrier oil or 24 drops essential oil to one ounce carrier oil. The carrier oil can be any non-scented nut or vegetable oil used for massage such as sweet almond, sesame, jojoba or hazelnut oil. Of course, olive oil works too. For giant breed dogs, one can use a slightly stronger dilution, say 5-7%. Horses can tolerate a greater strength and sometimes even undiluted essential oils.
What essential oils can I use on my dog?
Lemongrass is known to help regenerate connective tissues, dilates blood vessels and therefore improves circulation and promotes lymph low. So, just like in humans, lemongrass is good for torn cruciate ligaments and joint injuries in dogs. For arthritis a diluted blend of peppermint (good for cooling inflammation), cypress (increases circulation), juniper berry and lavender are good to help the body deal with any arthritic inflammation.
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is excellent for not only for repelling insects and insect bites but also healing sores on the skin.
For an actual insect repellent, one can use a mixture of 10 drops each of citronella, eucalyptus globulus and peppermint in an 8 ounce spray bottle with water. Remember to shake the bottle vigorously before each application, since essential oils and water do not readily mix.
Another recipe from Sandra Topper, a trained aromatherapist in Canada, is 30 drops lavender, 20 drops geranium, 30 drops Tea Tree oil, and 16 drops of citronella oil with 4 ounces of water and one-half ounce of vodka. Mix this recipe in a spray bottle and shake before using as an insect and mosquito repellant.
How about those pesky fleas and ticks?
Fortunately, we do not have much of a flea problem in Colorado. But I can give you a recipe from Kristen Leigh Bell’s book, Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals, for fleas.
Kristen uses ½ ounce (or 15 ml) of a carrier oil such as hazelnut or sweet almond oil as a base. To this carrier oil she adds:
4 drops Clary Sage
1 drop Citronella
7 drops Peppermint
3 drops lemon
This should be stored in a dark glass bottle, because essential oils are sensitive to light. One can apply 2-4 drops, depending on the size of your dog, to the neck, chest, legs and base of the tail of the dog. One can also put a few drops on a bandana or cotton collar. I like this latter method because then the essential oil soaked collar can be taken off in the house or whenever the scent is not needed.
Now Kristen uses an entirely different blend for ticks.
Oh, give our listeners that recipe too.
Sure, Wendy. Again Kristen starts with a base of ½ ounce (or 15 ml) of a carrier oil such as hazelnut or sweet almond oil. To this base she adds:
2 drops Geranium
2 drops Rosewood
3 drops Lavender
2 drops Myrrh
2 drops Opoponax
1 drop Bay Leaf
One can apply 2-4 drops, depending on the size of your dog, to the neck, chest, legs and base of the tail of the dog. One can also put a few drops on a bandana or cotton collar.
Any other special steps you would take when using essential oils on animals?
In addition to the oils on our chart at our website, I would also avoid stimulating oils of peppermint, rosemary, melaleuca (Tea Tree), spearmint, ravensara and eucalyptus unless in highly diluted form. It is also recommended to avoid rosemary on dogs that are prone to seizures or with epilepsy. It is not recommended to use essential oils on medium to large breed puppies younger than eight weeks. For small or toy breed puppies wait at least until they are older than ten weeks. When in doubt use the gentler hydrosols (by-products of essential oil distillation) on puppies instead of essential oils.
Here are some more general rules for all animals:
1. It is best to avoid the “hot” spice oils such as oregano, thyme, cinnamon (cassia), clove, and savory. I know oil of Oregano is a very beneficial oil for humans to support bacterial infections, fungus, parasites and candida conditions but I would use extreme caution when using oregano essential oil on or around animals.
2. Only use oils of birch and wintergreen in highly diluted form and sparingly due to the fact they have methyl salicylate a compound similar to Aspirin.
3. Only use therapeutic-grade melaleuca or Tea Tree oil that has been certified to meet the Australian standards. Many cheaper melaleuca oils are not tested for their content of cineole and terpinen and can have a caustic effect on the skin.
How do you determine what essential oil to use on animals?
Rather than assume a certain protocol or suggested oil is good for an animal I always test the essential oil first before using it. I introduce the essential oil to the animal by letting them sniff it and watch for signs of acceptance as mentioned before. I also use kinesiology with a human surrogate tester for the animal. I also use a dowsing pendulum or one of the many electronic radionic devices for testing oils safe for animals.
Optimum Choices only offers therapeutic-grade essential oils. 98% of all essential oils produced are not therapeutic grade. Most of these essential oils are used in the fragrance or perfume industry. They have not undergone the rigorous growing restrictions and passed a gas chromatograph test to insure the purity and chemical content. Because the FDA does not consider essential oils to be of therapeutic value they are regulated by the perfume laws. A majority of the store-bought oils are not therapeutic-grade but will still say “100% pure essential oil” on the label. This does not guarantee that all the oil in the bottle is pure essential oils by volume. What it means is that the bottle contains anywhere from 5–95% pure essential oils and the other 95–5% can be a non-scented carrier oil and they don’t have to specify this on the label. For therapeutic results, always look for the words “therapeutic” or therapeutic-grade” on the label. Of course, the therapeutic-grade essential oils will be more expensive.
So, we can get the essential oils from you. Do you also supply the hydrosols?
Hydrosols are really hard to come by. You see, hydrosols are also used in personal care products like people shampoo and lotions. We have a few bottles of chamomile hydrosol in stock but I can recommend a line of hydrosols for cats from AromaCat.com. They make three hydrosol products specifically for cats called Catnap (calming), Purrfect Ears (waxy ears and ear mites), Meow Ouch (antibacterial and anti-inflammatory as well as calming formula) and Scat! No Fleas Please. For dogs there is Arf-ritis Pain Relief which has rosemary and ginger increase the circulation to the area, while juniper acts as a detoxifier, lavender and birch for calming and to help relieve pain. You can order directly from the supplier at www.AromaCat.com or www.AromaDog.com and tell them Optimum Choices sent you.
Where can my listeners get more information about essential oils?
They can go to our website http://www.optimumchoices.com/, on the home page click on the Services button across the top menu bar. Then on the Services page, click the Aromatherapy button in the left column for a description of aromatherapy.
More detailed information can also be found starting at our home page and clicking the Products button across the top menu bar. Then on the Products page, click the Essential Oils button in the left column. Here we have buttons for subsequent web pages on Science, History, Application and Animal usage.
Sounds like essential oils are very powerful?
Essential oils are a holistic tool that honors the whole body and can move mental, emotional and even stuck physical energy. It is not a substitute for proper veterinary care.
You seem to have wealth of pet knowledge. How can we access more of your 57 years of holistic wisdom?
One way is to go to our website, http://www.optimumchoices.com/ and sign up for our free monthly e-newsletters. We have written articles on such topics as, Is glucosamine the answer for arthritis? Healthy water for you and your pets and Whole Food Nutrition vs. Supplements. All past articles are archived online and one can search for a specific topic. If your listeners will check the box at the bottom of the subscription form, we’ll send subscribers a free report entitled What Pet Food Companies Don’t Want You to Know. This report contains 11-points some of which we covered today.
What other holistic resources do you have that would be of interest my listeners?
We have written a series of Holistic Choices e-Books. Readers can take advantage of the latest holistic research we find and absorb the information in a small chunk rather than a 100+ page book. The first three titles that have been published are:
· Save Your Dog or Cat
· Secrets of Longevity (for people )
· How to become a canine massage provider
We start off by telling the reader what Nature designed wild dogs and cats to eat. Then we compare all the various food options from dry kibble to raw food to the optimum diet in Nature. We educate the readers on how to find good premium pet food by reading the labels. Next we discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of a raw food diet and how to transition to a raw diet. We also have a section on what human foods are toxic to pets. Many people don’t know that grapes, onions and Xylitol, a sweetener, can be toxic.
Sounds like I need to get a copy of your Save Your Dog or Cat e-Book. How can I and my listeners get a copy?
Go to our website www.OptimumChoices.com and click on the [Products] button on our home page, then the [Books] button on the subsequent page. As a special offer, I will give your listeners one e-Book of their choice free with their first purchase. Just have them say, “Wendy sent me” and ask for the free e-Book title of their choice with any product purchase.
Come back in July, when Russell will discuss— Is Doggie Massage Just a Spa Thing? He will discuss how dog massage can benefit your dog and how to find a qualified canine massage provider.
For more information on Optimum Choices and holistic options for your pet, go to Russell’s website at http://www.optimumchoices.com/. You can call toll-free 866-305-2306 or email them at info@OptimumChoices.com.