Natural flea control is a good alternative to using topical flea control on a pet who has had a reaction to commercial flea treatments or may be sensitive to these products. Essential oils are recommended for natural flea control and other uses for pets, but are they safe? Peppermint oil is also recommended for natural flea control and there is a difference between the two oils.
Peppermint oil is perfectly safe for cats and dogs and you can find peppermint essential oil in dog food, which is safe. Peppermint oil has been used for years as a natural way to repel fleas and help pet owners get ahead of a flea infestation. Adding 15 to 20 drops of any kind of mint oil into a cup of warm water and then combing the mixture onto the pet can repel fleas for up to a week. Continued use for a month to six weeks can help break the life cycle of fleas and give relief to pets who are more sensitive to commercial flea control or have had a serious reaction to them.
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquid from the plant they’re derived from and are considered to be the true essence of the plant. The flowers, leaves, stem, roots or bark are put through a process of distilling by using steam or water to extract the liquid (oil) from the plant. Then a carrier oil is added to dilute the oil. The most common carrier oil used is vegetable oil or olive oil, but Emu oil, which comes from the Emu and marine oil that comes from fish can also be used.
There are two ways essential oils are made. One method distills the liquid at a low temperature and low heat. These oils are considered to be “therapeutic grade” because the plants are usually organic. The other method uses a much higher temperature and is processed quicker. The plants are probably not organic and they can have other chemicals mixed in with the distilled oil. These oils are considered to be “perfume grade” which doesn’t have the therapeutic properties of the other method. What this means is, not all essential oils are equal.
Inhaling the fumes and topical use of essential oils on cats can be toxic for them. A cat’s liver can’t process compounds found in the oils properly and with continued use, the toxins build up in their system and produce a toxic reaction. Since the oils are so concentrated, it’s easy to apply too much to a cat’s body and the fumes are easily inhaled. It was once believed essential oils were safe to use on cats, but evidence has been mounting that has prompted warnings about using essential oils on cats. Unless you’ve done extensive research and talked to your vet and a qualified aromatherapist who has had experience using essential oils on cats, don’t apply any essential oil to your cat. I know from experience unintended results can happen. My cat was fine after his experience, but some aren’t as lucky. The oils can burn their skin and cause their hair to fall out as well as cause death with continued use.
We don’t always stop to consider an essential oil that smells good and helps to calm or relax us may not be healthy for our cats. Essential oils can help treat certain conditions in dogs, but as responsible pet owners, we need to be careful and never assume something is safe for pets just because it’s safe for us. If someone has recommended use of an essential oil for your cat, research it extensively before applying any oil to them. Be wary of claims that say essential oils can kill ear mites or that peppermint essential oil can cure a cat’s respiratory infection. Neither claim has been proven to be true and you can be doing more damage to the cat’s ears that could lead to deafness or burn your cat’s skin by applying the oil directly on them. Test it out for yourself by putting a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil on your cheek and leave it there for about a minute and you can experience what your cat feels.
Some of the essential oils that are toxic to cats include, peppermint, (which is different from peppermint oil), lavender, tea tree, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and cedar. Cat owners need to be extremely careful with these essential oils. If you are unsure or have no knowledge about an essential oil, it’s best to not use it on your cat. Aromatherapists are knowledgeable about how to use the oils for human use, but they are not licensed vets who understand how quickly a toxic build up can happen in a cat’s liver.
Essential oils are also found in air fresheners and incense. If you use either one in your home and share it with a cat, read the packaging information carefully to see if the product contains essential oils. Inhaling the fumes can build up in a cat’s system and cause harm.
Most pet owners would never do anything to hurt their pets. Owners with pets who are sensitive or have had serious reactions to flea medication turn to natural remedies to help rid their pet of fleas. Essential oils are sold as natural flea remedies and to help calm or relax pets, but for cats, rubbing these oils on their bodies can cause serious burns and most of the oils are toxic to cats. Before using any essential oil on your cat, research first so your cat doesn’t suffer harmful consequences.
Caution your kitty: Why essential oils can be toxic to cats, Essential-Oil.com
What are Essential Oils?, AromaWeb
Natural Flea Control, Eartheasy