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Essential Oils and Your Dog – A Common Sense Guide

There has been some talk on social media lately about the potential toxicity of some essential oils in relation to use on pets.  While it is always good to know about potential side effects of anything that we put on our dogs it is wise to see the full picture.

Firstly, let’s look at what essential oils, sometimes called aromatherapy oils, are.

Essential oils are produced by tiny glands in the petals, leaves, stems, bark and wood of many plants and trees.  In nature these oils are released slowly, but when heated or crushed the oil glands burst, releasing the plants’ aroma more strongly.  To extract pure ‘essential oil’ a distillation process is used or a plant may be dissolved in alcohol or some other solvent, in which case the resulting product is called a ‘resin’ or ‘absolute’.

Concentrated oils, resins and absolutes must always be used with care as they can cause allergy or skin damage.  Any reputable company selling essential oils will always stress that these oils should not be used undiluted – i.e., at 100% strength.  They must always be diluted.

Essential oils should never be applied pure, directly to the skin, and they should not be swallowed.  It is fine to use small amounts of more than one oil at a time – again, always diluted.

When appropriately diluted essential oils are believed to have therapeutic effects.  The medicinal use of plant oils is recorded in some of the earliest Chinese writings but the first recorded use of plant oils in Britain was in the 13th century.  In the modern world, when people talk about the toxicity of essential oils, such as tea tree oil, they are talking about it in its undiluted form.

Using essential oils requires common sense.  Think about it – just because a substance is good for you it doesn’t mean that using more of it will produce a greater, beneficial effect.  For example, we know that for humans eating one small square of 70% dark chocolate every day is good for most people’s heart health.  That doesn’t mean that we should eat the whole bar!

The amount of essential oils used in our dog shampoos are at a safe level and, of course, are further diluted by water when used in your dog’s bath or shower.  We also provide full transparency of all our ingredients.  Just contact us if you want to know or more.

DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained here it is for educational purposes only. The writer of this article and Dog Hair Day can’t diagnose any physical, mental or behavioural condition in animals nor prescribe treatment. We urge you to consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog.