Are essential oils safe for pets? What does the term essential oils even mean and how is an essential oil different from a flower essence or from aromatherapy or herbal therapy? And how can these types of natural healing options for pets work together with animal communication for improved quality of life for your pet? Animal communicator and Reiki master practitioner Shannon Cutts unpacks this complicated topic to deliver the basic facts.
Essential oils and their counterparts have become very (VERY) popular. Have you noticed?
When big chain stores and discount dives begin selling essential oils, flower essences and herbal products in bulk, you know their day in the sun has at last arrived.
Not to mention all the other products that are now openly proclaiming how safe and healthy they are because they are “essential oil-based” or “aromatherapy-based” – this meaning everything from toothpaste to shampoo to lotion to perfume to cleaning products.
Somehow natural has come to mean safe. Healthy. Smart.
Consider this, however. Willow bark is a plant. It is also the natural precursor to one of the most powerful and widely-used medications of all time….aspirin.
Poppies can make opium, heroine, quinine, codeine, and….morphine.
Coffee, tea and tobacco come from a plant. So do CBD and marijuana.
Point being (if it isn’t already obvious) natural doesn’t always mean safe…for pets or for their people. Plants can be very powerful. At their best, plants can be beneficial. At their worst, plants may be lethal.
When I recently interviewed aromatherapist and pet holistic care practitioner Amy Williams DeLong for the Animal Love Languages “Let’s Talk to Animals” podcast, we talked through another common conundrum for essential oil-interested pet parents.
What is the difference between essential oils and pet aromatherapy?
On that same topic, is there a difference between pet essential oils and flower essences for pets or pet herbal therapy?
Let’s take a side-by-side look at each.
Essential oils pet therapy.
Essential oils represent a distillation from one or more very specific parts of a given plant. The very act of separating all the parts of the plant, using some and discarding others, can potentially change the way each of those components naturally work.
This is also what makes pure essential oils one of the strongest treatments for pets. There is nothing else in there! No carrier oil, no other ingredient to dilute the full force of the distilled oil.
Consider this: if you sniff a pure essential oil and think “wow that is strong” imagine what your dog or cat or parrot or tortoise’s senses are picking up!
Aromatherapy (aroma oils) for pets.
Aromatherapy is sometimes called aroma oils but this is a misnomer. Aroma oils may include additional ingredients, whether carrier oils, other essential oils or even synthetic fragrances.
Aromatherapy is different.
The end game when you are using pet aromatherapy for healing or wellness is to factor in the influence of all ingredients, including the natural essential oils, the hydrosols (water plus distilled essences), the aromatics (naturally-occurring chemical compounds), and any preservatives or carriers (oil, water, etc).
Flower essences for pets.
The best-known flower essences are the Bach Flower Remedies. However, today there are many flower essences for pets.
With a name like “flower essences,” you might think these would be quite strong-smelling. The opposite is more often the case.
Oddly, many flower essences don’t have much odor, if any. Rather, the distillation process captures the energetic imprint of the flowers and preserves it, usually in liquid form.
Many flower essences combine multiple blossom varietals in a single formula. A great example is the best-known Bach Flower Essence for pets, Rescue Remedy, which has five different flower essences plus water and the preservative vegetable glycerin.
Pet herbal therapy (herbalism).
Pet herbal therapy, or herbalism for pets, takes a step beyond either essential oils or flower essences (blossom-based distillations).
Here, the goal is to identify all beneficial part or parts of a given plant and use those as appropriate to address specific health issues or needs.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that pet herbal therapy often overlaps with pet essential oils, aromatherapy for pets and pet flower essences. But they are not one and the same.
By the way, veterinary herbalists are recognized as veterinary professionals, with all the same education, training and credentialing requirements as other veterinary specialties.
Now, I am not an aromatherapist. Or an essential oils for pets expert. Or an herbal medicine practitioner. And I didn’t know anything about aroma oils until I googled the term just now.
But what I am – just like you I’m guessing – is an interested pet parent with a proactive and open attitude towards anything that could potentially improve quality of life and health for my precious ones.
Plus, I have personal experience with many of these options. From this I have developed my personal vetted short list of holistic pet practitioners – all of whom I have either personally interviewed or worked with – that I can turn to when one of my pet clients needs a trusted referral.
I am also a professional animal communicator and a Reiki master practitioner who has talked with hundreds upon hundreds of pets and their worried pet parents, many of whom have run up against frustrating dead-ends when relying solely on traditional western veterinary medical approaches.
In that capacity, I have seen the need for as many options as possible when a pet is struggling and the pet parent has tried all the obvious options to no avail. Sometimes, such a seeming dead-end may mean the pet is making their final transition. And sometimes, it may mean it is time to dig deeper. Look further. Consider, even, that the pet may know what they need better than any person, no matter how well trained.
Here is an intriguing fact to support that. Did you know that many wild animals engage in an intriguing practice known as “zoopharmacognosy?”
Essentially, this means animals are self-medicating with plants.
Whether the animal in question chooses to use the plant in question topically or internally, they are following a type of inner guidance I am intimately acquainted with.
Often in one of my animal communication or energy healing sessions, it is my pet client who requests a more natural approach for their healing or wellness needs. Sometimes the pet even requests a specific remedy by name.
And this is where the work I do through animal communication and Reiki healing intersects with other wellness, health and healing modalities for pets.
Are you struggling to find ways to help your pet through the healing process after an injury, illness, trauma or some other life-limiting health issue? I can help.