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News from Optimum Choices, LLC

April 2003

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Using Essential Oils with Animals
Upcoming Classes
Book of the Month
Contact Us

Using Essential Oils with Animals

Because of the resurgence in aromatherapy today, domestic animals such as dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, gerbils, etc. are now becoming exposed to essential oils and the volume of case histories is accumulating. Although essential oils are "all natural", this doesn't mean they are always safe,particularly for animals. One case reported by a veterinarian was a cat found listless, unable to walk or crawl, after the owner applied just one drop of undiluted peppermint oil to the catís stomach. This article addresses some of the precautions to take in using essential oils with our pets.

When using oils with dogs, always avoid any oils high in phenols and ketones. Avoid stimulating oils of peppermint, rosemary, niaouli, 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 on puppies instead of essential oils.

Oil blends seem to work best on canines. Essential oils have a very profound effect on shelter, rescue and adopted dogs. They help the dog bond with the owner after such a traumatic experience. Dogs and horses, being similar to humans, tolerate oils better than other animals. Cats and birds are a totally different story.

Cat's livers do not have the necessary enzymes to break down and excrete certain chemical compounds in essential oils. The chemical compounds, therefore, accumulate in a cat's body and are sometimes toxic to the point of death. Cats are very sensitive to beta-carotene, morphine, certain sulfanomides, salicylic acid, acetaminophen, allyl propyl disulfide (onions) and compounds with the benzene ring (benzyl alcohol preservative). It is best to avoid any oil containing phenols: oregano, thyme, cinnamon (cassia), clove, savory, birch, and melaleuca (Tea Tree oil) or ketones: sage. A third group to avoid are the monoterpene hydrocarbons pinene and limonene most commonly found in the citrus and pine oils: lemon, orange, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit, lime, bergamot, pine, spruce, and any fir oil. Many household cleaners and even pet products have these latter substances in them to make them smell nice to the owners. Symptoms of a toxic buildup include being despondent, clumsy, uncoordinated, partially paralyzed, vomiting, drooling or in a daze. The diagnosis for toxic poisoning is a blood test that shows elevated liver enzymes. It is best to seek a veterinarian's care if toxic poisoning is suspected.

Hydrosols (by-products of essential oil distillation) are the safest to use on cats. This is because the monoterpene alcohols have an affinity for water and are safe for cats. Phenols and ketones do not appear in hydrosols. There are no known case histories of hydrosols or monoterpene alcohols causing toxicity in cats. It is best not to use undiluted essential oils on cats. Hydrosols of chamomile and a combination of rose, lavender, geranium and neroli are known to have a claming 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.

Birds are even more sensitive to essential oils than cats. The best recommendation is to use hydrosols only and in highly diluted form in the birdís water like a homeopathic remedy. For example, 2-4 drops of a hydrosol in a bowl of fresh water for the bird.

For further information on how to use essential oils safely with animals, e-mail Russell Louie at Russell@OptimumChoices.com or call him at (303) 271-1649.

Upcoming Classes

These classes are all taught in the Denver metro area by Russell Louie:

  • Beyond Aromatherapy - The Wonderful World of Essential Oils
    Sunday, May 4 @ 12:00-3:00 PM $20 through Apr 27 ($25 after Apr 27)
    Journey Books & Gifts, 6731 W. Colfax Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214
    next to Casa Bonita restaurant.

  • Living the Ancient Tao in a Modern World, Sat, May 31 @ 11:30 - 5:30,
    $65 by May 24; $75 after May 24
    Journey Books & Gifts, 6731 W. Colfax Ave, Lakewood, CO 80214
    next to Casa Bonita restaurant.

  • Tao Discussion Group, Monday, March 17, April 21, May 19, 7:00-9:00 PM,
    Metaphysical Bookstore & Center, 2178 S. Colorado Blvd. (near E. Evans Ave.),
    Denver, $7.
    Taoism is a way of life. Taoism teaches us to live in harmony with Universal laws and go with the flow of the Universe. Come with your questions and discuss how you can practice this simple philosophy in your personal and professional lives. More information at www.SpiritFire.com.

Call Russell at 303-271-1649 to register or for more information or see http://www.optimumchoices.com/classes.htm.

Book of the Month


Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell

Click picture to order from Dogwise


This recently published book (2002) is by Kristen Leigh Bell, who did her masters' thesis on aromatherapy and animals. Kristen's book uses more up-to-date case studies and practical research over the last ten years. Like Kristen, we believe in a moderate practice of using aromatherapy with animals. We like her approach in that she doesn't say all essential oils are too strong for cats like some experts. She tells you which oils to definitely avoid with cats, which oils she has used successfully with cats and the proper dilution to use with cats. If you want to safely use essential oils with your pets, we highly recommend purchasing this book to educate yourself.

To purchase this book online, click on the book picture above.

Contact Us

Click here to give your pet
the fountain of youth today!

General Information: Russell@OptimumChoices.com
Webmaster: info@OptimumChoices.com
        Newsletter Editor: Editor@OptimumChoices.com
        866-305-2306 (toll-free)
Location (call first for appointment)
416 Plateau Pkwy
        Golden, CO 80403-1533

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