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written and submitted by Bonnie Dunlop, Botrina Kennels

Twelve Essential Oils For Animals 

Any of the following oils or their hydrosols (flower waters) may be appropriate for use with your pet.  However, DO NOT apply full-strength essential oils. 

1.         Basil (ocimumbasilicum) or French Basil, also referred to as common basil, has a colorless or pale yellow hue which is has a light, sweet, fresh, spicy fragrance.  It is an anit-depressant, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, gas reliever, digestive aid, expectorant (meaning it helps remove mucus congestion from the lungs), fever reducer, nerve tonic, adrenal cortex stimulant and general tonic.  It stimulates milk production in nursing mothers, treats respiratory infections (when applied to the skin or fur), helps relieve arthritis pain (when applied to joints and muscles), treats indigestion/nausea and flatulence (when taken orally – by mouth), and in all applications it helps relieve  depression/fatigue and insomnia. 

Exotic basil is NOT recommended for use in animals either externally or internally. 

            All basil oils should be avoided during breeding and pregnancy.

 2.         Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

Bergamot oil is distilled from the rind of an Italian citrus fruit and should not be confused with bee balm (commonly called bergamot)

It is used to treat fevers and worms.  This oil has analgesic or pain-relieving, antiseptic , antispasmodic,         antitoxic, gas-relieving, digestive, diuretic, deodorant,  laxative, stimulant, tonic and worm killing properties.  Can be used as an appetite stimulant for anorexia.  Taken internally it can help clear bladder infections.

Bergamot oil applied topically should be greatly diluted as it can make bare skin photosensitive.

3.         Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, known as German true or annual chamomile, and Anthemisnobilis, Roman or perennial chamomile)

The oil of annual German chamomile is thick and blue with an intense, sweet herbal fragrance.  The oil of perennial Roman chamomile is clear and yellowish-green with a sweet, clean, fruity odor.

Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antispasmotic, gas-relieving,  fever-reducing, antiseptic, wound-healing digestive aid and calming herb of the highest order.   Used to treat burns, cuts, infections and abscesses when applied topically.  Used for colitis, intestinal infections, gallbladder problems, colic, flatulence and gastritis when taken internally or orally.  It makes a spirit-lifting  air freshener when sprayed in the air.  It is safe for puppies and nursing mothers as well as during pregnancy. Its calming influence relieves tension, depression and anxiety.  When put in shampoos and conditioners, it improves coat condition while highlighting red, yellow and light coloured coats.

4.         Cinnamon Oil (Cinnamomumzeylanicum and other species)

It is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves, twigs and dried inner bark of the tree.  The oil is pale to dark yellow or brown oil and has the familiar cinnamon odor.

The leaf oil is relatively non-toxic, though should be used in moderation around mucous  membranes.  The bark oil is a serious irritant to the skin as well as mucous membranes.  It should not be used during pregnancy, labor or whelping.  It is safe for internal use.  Used externally for repelling lice and other small parasites.  Diluted cinnamon oil warms and relaxes arthritic muscles and joints. Internally it stimulates appetite, helps prevent colitis and heals intestinal infections.  As a spray (in the air), it helps improve circulation and boosts the immune system.  Freshly ground cinnamon can be added to pets food.

5.         Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) is a close relative of garden sage.  Garden sage (salvia officinalis) is toxic in very small doses and should NOT be used in or on animals.

Clary sage is much milder and has a reputation as an aphrodisiac.  It may be used in a spray on or around dogs during breeding.  It is also used as an antidote to the stress of travel, competition and performing.

6.         Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata, E. Aromatica, E. Caryophyllus) does more than numb the gums.  As an effective antiseptic, it can be applied to infected wounds and when diluted to 1 percent, clove oil is up to 4 times more effective than phenol in killing bacteria.  It is an effective insect repellent, can be used on herbal flea collars or added to herbal sprays.  Orally or internally, it helps prevent flatulence, digestive problems and diarrhea.  It is an effective vermifuge or worm killer.  It is thought or was thought to strengthen the uterus and aid in whelping.

There are three types available : clove bud, clove leaf and clove stem.  All three can cause skin irritation and mucous membrane irritation so should be well diluted if used topically.   Clove bud is the least toxic. All three are safe for internal use.

7.         Eucalpytus or Blue Gum ( Eucalyptusglobulus).  The oil is colourless, but turns yellow with age and has a harsh, woody, camphor smell.  Externally it is non-toxic and when diluted won´t irritate the skin, but it CAN be toxic if swallowed.  Less than a teaspoon can be fatal to a human.

8.         Lavender( lavandulalatifolia or spike lavender; L. Angustifolia or L. Officinalis,  true lavender; and Lavandula x intermedia or lavandin, a cross between true and spike lavender)

All the different lavenders share the same basic actions: analgesic or pain-relieving, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmotic, antitoxic, gas-relieving, bile-stimulating, deodorant, diuretic, insect-repelling, relaxing, circulation-stimulating, tonic and worm-repelling.  It is also effective in treating burns and scalds because it neutralizes the venom of insect bites and stings as well as some venomous snakes. 

Distilled lavender oil is clear or pale yellow with a sweet, herby, woody scent. It treats respiratory conditions when inhaled or ingested; relieves nausea when taken orally; prevents flatulence , helps alleviate cramping, improves digestion and clears urinary tract infections, ringworm, lice, scabies, sores, sunburn, dermatitis, earache, wounds and inflammation.  It relieves anxiety and lifts the spirits. It is safe for dogs of all ages.

9.         Myrrh( Commiphoramyrrha and other species) 

The essential oil is steam- distilled and acts as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, gas-relieving, expectorant, sedative, fungicidal and revitalizing. It has a spicy, medicinal odor that stimulates the lungs.  Ringworm and other fungal infections respond to preparations containing Myrrh.  It should be well diluted.

10.       Orange ( Citrusaurantiumvar, amara, or bitter orange, and Citrus sinensis, or sweet orange)

Both bitter and sweet orange oils are called phototoxic because treated skin reacts to sunlight, producing a rash or burn.

Orange flower or neroli oil has a light, sweet, floral fragrance and is used as an antidepressant, antispasmotic, deodorant, gas-relieving, and mild sedative.  It is a cardiac tonic, digestive aid and antiseptic.  It is neither toxic, irritating, sensitizing nor phototoxic.  It can be applied to pet´s scars or wounds to stimulate healing.

11.       Sandalwood( Santalum album)

Its pale, viscous (thick) essential oil has a distinctive, soft, sweet, balsamic fragrance and is nontoxic, nonirritating and nonsensitizing.  It is well tolerated by people and animals just like Lavender and Chamomile, even at full strength.  Applied topically, it helps heal dry, cracked, chapped skin.  It can be used to treat a greasy coat or skin. It relieves nervous tension and encourages restful sleep.

12.       Tea Tree or Ti Tree( Melaleucaalternifolia)

Because of its unpleasant taste, some pet guides recommend using it to apply to the body parts of an animal that chews or licks incessantly.  High concentration or over use on an animal can cause a toxicosis with symptoms such as depression, weakness, incoordination and muscle tremorsThe symptoms can start within 2 to 8 hours of  application and take 3 to 4 days to subside.  It is not recommended for internal use.