Aroma therapy for Pets?
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Rachel
Posted on: November 18, 2008

I am a small home business that makes natural pet treats for cats and dogs. I have made a lavender aroma therapy collar for my chihuahua who has anxiety. I would like to make some to sell in my store, are there herbs that you can recommend and/or herbs to be avoided?

There is no definitive list of herbs to avoid in pets, keeping also in mind that whatever list there would be, would be different for cats than for dogs. Cats, as a completely separate species from dogs, do not react in the same way to many herbs, so caution must be exercised. In addition, I am not a big fan of employing aromatherapy in pets. All the data we have on essential oils has been based on the experience of humans, who as yet another species, have an olfactory system (sense of smell) that is completely different from either cats or dogs. For instance, here is a quote from "The Physiology of Domestic Animals" (Reece, 1997): "The individual olfactory receptor of the dog is probably no more sensitive than that of the human, but their larger olfactory region allows dogs to detect odorous substances at concentrations 1:1000 of that detectable by humans." Therefore we, as humans, have no idea how strong an individual scent might be to a dog (much less a cat), nor do we know how a dog or cat may react to an individual scent. And vice versa. Most humans dislike the odour of Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis). However, dig up a Valerian plant and cats from miles around will appear to sniff, chew and roll around on that plant, even more so that catnip. I think we must be very careful in assuming what works for one species will benefit another. In addition, the ingestion of essential oils by dogs or cats can be deleterious. Unfortunately, one can ask a human not to eat his collar, but try doing that with your favourite pet?

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