Essential Oils and Animals

This has nothing to do with ritual, magic, or anything esoteric, just one of my frequent freakouts over people using essential oils in dangerous ways.

My sister-in-law is a veterinarian in northern California, where a lot of people are really concerned with keeping things as natural as possible.  A few weeks ago, a dog died in her arms.  A perfectly healthy dog, whose owners had decided against a flea treatment like Frontline because of their concerns over pesticides.  They’d done some online research and discovered that certain essential oils can repel fleas, so they bought a bottle of pennyroyal essential oil and rubbed a small amount into the dog’s skin.

24 hours later, the dog died of liver failure brought on by pennyroyal poisoning.

This is not unusual, sadly.  Pennyroyal, which is extremely toxic to dogs, is touted in a ton of places online as a very effective flea deterrent.  Search “natural flea treatment” or “essential oils for fleas” on Google or Pinterest or almost anywhere you CAN search and someone will have helpful directions about using essential oils to treat a flea infestation.  Among the most popular – Pennyroyal.

“A 1992 study (Sudekum M et al, Pennyroyal oil toxicosis in a dog, JAVMA.1992) reported that .07 oz of pennyroyal essential oil was applied to a dog’s skin to help control fleas. “Within 1 hour of application, the dog became listless and within 2 hours began vomiting. At 30 hours after exposure, the dog exhibited diarrhea, hemoptysis (coughing up blood) and epistaxis (bleeding from the nose). Soon thereafter, the dog developed seizures and died. Histopathiologic (tissue) examination of the liver showed massive hepatocellular necrosis”. In other words, the dog died of liver failure.” [source]

.07 oz is less than half a teaspoon.

On the face of it, using essential oils to repel bugs is really sensible.  We use citronella candles with essential oil of citronella, after all, to keep mosquitos away.  People even use citronella sprays.  No big deal.  Plant based, natural, no dangerous pesticides.

Except one of those natural bug repellents is virulently poisonous, and less than half avteaspoon applied to the skin (not consumed, just rubbed on the skin) will kill a dog.  That part didn’t make it into the webpage or pinned recipe for flea repellent.

I have another post in the works on the many, many Pinterest recipes floating around, for human and animal use.  Put it on your skin, take several drops by mouth, diffuse it into the air so you/your kids/your pets/your guests can breathe it into their lungs.  Get the essential oil into your body, they say, because it’s natural and nontoxic and healthy and safe.

Essential oils are the most concentrated form of a plant that exists.  They can make humans and animals sick or dead.  MLM companies want to sell oils; the more you consume in more ways (skin, ingestion, diffuser, etc.), the more you’ll buy from them.  They are salespeople.  Not herbalists, aromatherapists, doctors, nurses, homeopaths, naturopaths, or anyone else who has been through training regarding the safety of essential oils.  Some of them are knowledgeable, I’m sure, but the are first and foremost salespeople trying to sell you something.

Be careful.  Please.  Essential oils are strong, and they can make people and animals very ill, or even kill them.  Never base your use of oils on a salesperson’s pitch, an essential oil company’s instructions, or something you found on Google or Pinterest.  If you’re interested in essential oil use, learn from a qualified program before you use them on yourself, your dog, your kid, or your clients. These pet deaths (the dog my sister-in-law saw was just one of many households pets sickened or killed every year when people try to treat a problem with herbs or oils) are completely avoidable.  Not one of those animals had to die.  They were victims of a “natural medicine” craze that turns salespeople into instructors, advising their customers on the use of oils to maximize their own profits.

 

1 thought on “Essential Oils and Animals

  1. I have always disliked the words “all natural.” It’s rather cultish. The following are also all natural: Arsenic, Cyanide, Lead, Mercury, Plutonium, Uranium etc. These can all be found in The Periodic Table of the Elements. All are found in nature. Apple seeds for example contain arsenic. I am a real microbiologist and a chemist and I wouldn’t be pushing essence of apple seed on anybody. These people are brain/washed with pseudo science. And by the way, GCMS does not quantify. It merely identifies.

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