PET CARE with Essential Oils and their Friends

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Author: Jan Benham
Publisher: The Aroma Shoppe Ltd.
Book Publication: 2013

Everyone loves a little pampering now and again – even our pets. So if you happen to have a furry family member or two, Pet Care with Essential Oils and their Friends by Jan Benham will be a welcome addition to your library.

Known for her work as a cosmetic maker and holistic practitioner, Benham shows us how easy it is to make our own organic products at home with healthy and natural ingredients. Appalled by the lack of safe pet care products, Benham started creating her own products for use on horses, dogs, and cats. Benham’s formulations, unlike the synthetic commercial formulations found in the mainstream pet care industry, contain no mineral oils, animal products, synthetic preservatives, or dyes.

Essential oils are distilled – usually through steam – from plants, herbs, flowers, seeds, grasses, roots, trees, and fruit. Recognized throughout the world for their therapeutic properties, these oils are antibacterial and many are even antiviral and antifungal. In most cases, because they are highly concentrated these oils should not be used directly on skin but should instead be dissolved in either vegetable oil, alcohol, or water before using. Once diluted, oil formulations can be used in a variety of treatments from massage to hot or cold compresses and sprays.

Essential oils are often used for both emotional and physical health. While this practice can be extended to animals, Benham cautions readers to educate themselves as much as possible. While there are many must-have oils such as bergamot, chamomile, and cedarwood, there are other oils that should never be used on pets: oregano, cinnamon, clove, or any oil containing phenols can cause liver and kidney toxicity in cats, dogs, and horses. Tea tree oil should also be avoided, as it can be toxic to both cats and dogs; unfortunately this oil is used in many mainstream pet products – yet another good reason to always read the label!

In the book, Benham outlines simple ways to spot common pet disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, eczema, or psoriasis, then explains how to design your own blends to treat them.
Most animals have a keener and more heightened sense of smell than humans. Even wild animals often have an innate sense of which plants or herbs will heal them. The nose knows! And just as people differ in their reactions to essential oils, sensitivity to odours can vary from animal to animal as well.

So, how do you determine if your animal is interested in a particular homemade remedy? Stay alert for classic non-verbal cues. For example, horses, cats, and dogs will show interest in an oil by actively smelling it, following you around, or trying to lick the container. If they’re not interested, they will simply turn their backs on you and walk away. Be a good owner and take the hint from little Raggles and move on. With perseverance, you’re certain to find something that even a finicky dog will like.

While most oils can be inhaled or used topically once diluted, unless you have extensive knowledge of essential oils don’t even consider administering them orally without first consulting a holistic vet, the author warns. A cautionary word to cat owners – never allow your feline friends to ingest them. Curiosity, in this case, could be fatal. Be sure to have that cat hightail it out of there before you start mixing up these oils.

Benham has made it easy to create home remedies for pampering our pets as she covers the tools of the trade and what to have at the ready in this handy booklet. There’s even a glossary included, which lists items  needed for each recipe. Making the ‘Doggie Shampoo’ is an easy way to start, and if your dog (or horse) happens to have sensitive skin, he will be happy you did. After you’ve read up on oils and are ready to go to the next step, whip up a batch of the ‘Jojoba Conditioner’; this formula containing seaweed and nettle extract helps repair damaged hair. ‘Bad Odour Spray’, with its mix of cider vinegar, lavender, and peppermint, will transform that stinky dog to sweet smelling in two shakes. It will also prove to be another invaluable addition to your housekeeping arsenal when tidying up bedding, or after a rainy day muck about in the dog park.

And next time you’re about to ride off into the sunset with Brixton, make sure you’ve got Benham’s ‘Bug Spray’ on hand before you go. You wouldn’t want your faithful steed to get eaten alive by mosquitoes or black flies. This blend of cider vinegar, eucalyptus, and sweet orange also helps to repel ticks and eliminate fleas. Not only will this oil spray recipe do all that for your four legged friend, but people can use it too. Now that’s something to bark about!

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