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Conscious Living: Essential Oils for Your Pet’s Well-Being

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Have an anxious dog? Working on eliminating some unwanted behavioral issues with your cat? Consider using essential oils as part of a well-rounded treatment plan.

An essential oil (EO) is a highly concentrated, aromatic chemical compound distilled from a plant. Before using any products with your pet, it is important to note that not all EOs are created equal. Many EOs on the market are considered “perfume grade,” and while they may boast “100% pure” on the label, they could contain substances that are toxic to animals and should be avoided. To ensure the highest quality products, be sure they are third party tested and considered pharmaceutical grade—meaning they are safe to use topically or internally. If you are not sure as to the quality of the oil you are purchasing it is best to consult with an expert, such as your veterinarian. If the label says “for aromatic use only,” avoid using it with your furry family members.

EOs have emotional as well as physical benefits for your pets. In conjunction with training, they may help with behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, inappropriate elimination, or negative fear- based behavior. Often these behaviors are very complex and require a multi- angle approach, but incorporating some lavender EO in a stressful situation has calmed many a canine and feline.

Because EOs are lipid soluble, they can be absorbed into cells through the cell membrane—this is one reason they are so effective. Since they are distilled from plants, and no two plants are the same, EOs do not show the same bacterial resistance as some synthetically-made therapies.

A lot of EOs can be safely used around pets in many types of applications— either through diffusion (I recommend a water diffuser for most animals if they are going to be in the same room as the diffuser), applied topically along the spine, or given internally, provided the EO is diluted first by mixing it with wet food or given in a capsule. Diffusion or topical application is typically sufficient to receive the desired result.

As with any new thing you introduce to your pet, caution should be used when starting EO treatment. Start with a small amount of a diluted EO and observe your pet’s behavior. If the response is neutral but you are not getting the therapeutic effect desired, you can always add more EO or increase the frequency of application.

Since every animal is different and has her own unique body chemistry, different animals tolerate EOs to a different extent. For example, my puppy absolutely loves EOs no matter which one I choose, whereas my older Scottish Terrier is much more sensitive and prefers diffusion. Be sure to observe your pet’s behavior. If she is behaving normally, all is well. If she is behaving abnormally—such as trying to rub the oil off of an area where EOs were applied, squinting, rubbing her nose, or trying to get out of a room where you are diffusing—then she may be sensitive to that particular oil. If this happens and the oil was applied topically, dilute it by applying a vegetable oil such as fractionated coconut oil directly over the area. Be careful not to use water, as that will drive the oil in deeper.

While caution should be used and EOs introduced carefully and slowly to your home, they have amazing properties that will greatly enhance the health and wellness, as well as the quality of life, of your four-legged family members.

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Note: be sure to dilute EOs when using them with cats. One drop in a teaspoon or more of carrier oil.

Visit Facebook.com/EODVM for more information or to consult with Dr. Roark directly.

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