Essential Oils for Animals


Essential oils are an effective, natural alternative for treating a variety of health challenges and long-term illnesses, but would you use them on your pet? Do you trust they work as effectively as medical treatments? Or, would you use essential oils only after traditional medical options failed?

Essential oils are a bit of a controversial topic among vets, mainly because the impact of their use isn’t thoroughly tested. There is also a bit of murkiness regarding label wording and FDA approval (especially if it’s qualified as a fragrance or food instead of an actual drug.) However, some vets (and lots of people) swear by them, using them in combination with other therapies to maximize the health impacts for pet patients.

To learn more about essential oil basics, and move past strictly online opinions, I talked with Margy Mazur, local essential oils expert. She currently hosts a local Meetup called Aromatherapy and Essential Oils,  helping educate people on the most important things to know when choosing and using essential oil therapy for themselves or pets. Mazur has also successfully treated her horses, dogs and cats for years using essential oils.

Essential Oil Basics and What you Need to Know Before you Purchase

“The first, most important thing people need to know about any essential oil they purchase is the quality. Pure, therapeutic grade is best, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a quality oil. Some products will list pure as part of the labeling, but unless it says 100% pure, there is no way of knowing the purity percentage – and that directly impacts effectiveness,” says Mazur.

Mazur also mentioned that the distillation process is the most critical piece of the development process. If an essential oil is not distilled at the right temperature, or if a company uses a chemical to (extract) more from the raw ingredients, it can deeply impact the quality and effectiveness of the oil.

“Any extras used in distillation also transfer to the oil and are absorbed by the body or animal. The oil needs to be handled in a pure environment from ‘seed to seal’ in order to be considered 100% pure,” adds Mazur. What does that really mean? That a company must oversee every step in the oil creation process, starting with making sure the raw material is organically grown, using no pesticides, and has vigilant quality control throughout the development process.

Mazur also mentioned that one to two drops of essential oil is all that’s necessary on animals, as they respond much more quickly to the treatment than humans. “That’s why a lot of common animal treatments are blends, so you can get more of a “punch” without having to apply several different oils in one sitting. Animals don’t tend to enjoy that! You can also apply essential oils as a spray, which is perfect for treating hot spots that need healing but are raw to the touch,” adds Mazur. “Just remember to cover the animals eyes and membranes, or spray on your hands then rub on the animal.”


Common Essential Oils to Use Safely on Pets

If using essential oils as part of your pet’s regular health care regimen sounds intriguing, there are some basics Mazur shared that are great for everyday pet care or for treating long-term conditions safely. She has sold Young Living Essential Oils for years, but these combinations can work with any high-quality essential oil.

This natural flea and tick protector is good for 30 days. Take a cloth collar and soak it in this mixture:

  • Half tsp alcohol or vodka for a base
  • Drop of cedarwood
  • 3 drops purification (if you want to blend your own purification, here is what’s in it- Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Melaleuca (Melaleuca alternifolia) lavandin (Lavandula x hybrida), and myrtle (Myrtus communis).
  • 2 drops lavender
  • 2 drops citronella
  • 1 drop thyme
  • 3 drops of orange oil

If you are interested in putting together a essential oil first-aid kit for your pet, here are some suggestions. Dr. Mary Elizabeth Hess is a holistic veterinarian who also uses the Young Living brand, and has seen great success with animals. The Young Living site is very informative, letting you search for each blend  and also providing the specific ingredients so you know exactly what you putting on your pet. Here are the essential oils that are good for everyday pet care.

  • Peace and calming blend for travel anxiety, going to the vet, or treating a herd animal in the road
  • DiGize for gastrointestinal problems
  • Purification to help with fleas and ticks and other parasites
  • RC respiratory connection for urinary and bladder issues
  • Theives for dental issues or gum problemss or wounds
  • Panaway for aches and joints issues
  • Salve blend to help coat an open wound
  • Animal Scents ointment; acts as a seal on a wound until you can get to medical attention

Lavender is also good all purpose solution that really helps with injuries while hiking or riding, repels parasites and helps shrink tumors, and helps with lacerations or burns, so it’s good to have on hand.


If you are interested in learning more, Hess has a book that includes insight on the best places to apply essential oils on animals, including, how to put oils on the paws, hind legs, as well as which area of the paw represents a different health issue and what point works best to treat it. Cats are especially sensitive, as their liver processes things differently than other animals, so be extra careful when working with them, but essential oils care really work on any animal, when applied in the proper doses on the right spots. Melissa Shelton, doctor of veterinary medicine has a book called the Animal Desk Reference about essential oils for animals and it addresses everything – birds, cows, horses and more, if you wanted more specific insights.

If you are considering blending your own oils, Mazur suggests you take a class or do thorough research before using them on your animal. The potency of a blend is very important to get right, and that isn’t something that can be “guessed”.

Clearly there is WAY more to cover that I’m able to write about in one post, so it pays to learn more on your own. If you would like to check out other essential oil companies, doTerra Essential Oils are also considered high-quality, or ask your vet for some suggestions.

Additional resources for reference:

Photo credit: Horses: Evan LeesonDog paw: Angelica Portales Cat: Ellie 

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