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Common and dangerous Essential Oil mistakes you need to know

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Hello Happy Fluffers! I know it's been awhile since you've heard from me. Well, alot has happened at Happy Fluff since. Not only have we moved to a new HQ... we've also adopted a new family member, a little Pomeranian, aptly named Joy :D

Joy the Pomeranian

Today, we would like to share with you some important bits of information about essential oils.

First off, did you know that essential oils, though natural, may be unsafe and dangerous to our furry friends?

But how come Annie?!

This is because there are companies out there that aren't completely honest about their products.

The truth is, essential oils come in many different grades and purity levels. The high grade-high purity essential oils are extracted from a huge amount of plant matter through removal methods suited to the specific plant, and can only produce a small amount of oil.

For example, it takes 1kg of neem seed kernels to produce only nearly 100ml of neem oil — the renowned healing oil used in our products! So as you can tell, it's a process which requires alot of plant material and this means that high grade pure essential oils are never cheap.

However as essential oils have become popular in recent years, there are companies that have rushed to launch affordable "essential oils" into the market. And they are able to do so only by cutting corners on the extraction process or mixing in synthetic chemicals with essential oils to create low grade-low purity oils.

In fact, some products out there labelled as "essential oils" don't even contain a single drop of essential oil! They are merely made up of fully synthetic chemicals which mix to smell like the actual essential oil but lack any medicinal and therapeutic effects of essential oils. Worse yet, many actually cause skin irritations! So then, how does one identify if an essential oil is truly pure?

A good indicator is price as mentioned above. Other giveaways are in the labels/ingredients — anything labelled "fragrance oil", or "aroma oil", is usually completely or partially synthetic, and I highly recommend staying away from them. Look for "THERAPEUTIC GRADE ESSENTIAL OILS" if you want to use aromatherapy in your home with pets.

Now that you've learnt how to identify the truly therapeutic essential oils, it's time to dig a little further. Because "therapeutic grade essential oils" may be dangerous to our furry friends too! There are a few other factors to consider when using truly therapeutic essential oils.

1. Dilution rate of essential oils

Many have asked if I can make some of my formulations "stronger". Unfortunately, the answer is no. And there is a reason why Happy Fluff's formulations are diluted to the level they are. While a particular essential oil may be "pet-safe", essential oils should never be used neat directly on an animal.

Remember that one drop of a plant's essential oil is 75 times (or more) stronger than its herbal equivalent making it an extreme form of natural medicine. Hence, they must be diluted, especially because our furry ones are so much smaller in size when compared to us.

A rough guideline is to add about 3-6 drops of essential oil to 1 oz. (30 ml) of carrier oil. We use sweet almond oil and coconut oil as carriers in our natural care goodies.

The smaller the pet, the less you use on it, and vice versa. This is true in any form of use, either when applied directly or when being diffused into the air.

Because not only are our pets' sense of smell highly sensitive, their organs also process the essential oils at different rates. In fact, there are many that they can't even process. Different types of essential oils have different effects on different species in different ways.

2. Species-friendliness of essential oils

The most common pet companions that we have — cats and dogs — do not process essential oils the same way. And this means that what may be safe for a dog, may not be safe for cats, and vice versa.

For example, many essential oils that are high in eugenols and phenols (classes of chemical compounds) are toxic to cats especially. And these are commonly found oils like peppermint, oregano, citrus, lavender... the list goes on (we've included the lists below).

This is why we say no to customers who ask us if they can use our sprays on cats.

Our formulations are made specifically for dogs at the moment, but we're working to release a separate line of cat-friendly formulations soon. Stay tuned :)

List of Essential Oils UNSAFE for cats (oils high in phenols and eugenols) with common ones highlighted in bold:

  • Basil
  • Birch (Betula)
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Cassia (Cassia fistula)
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Fennel
  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

This includes oils high in d-limonene which includes all citrus oils:

  • Lemon
  • Wild orange
  • Tangerine
  • Mandarin
  • Citrus blends
  • Grapefruit
  • Lime
  • Bergamot

Here is also a list of Essential Oils UNSAFE for dogs with common ones highlighted in bold:

  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Birch (Betula)
  • Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
  • Boldo (Peumus boldus)
  • Calamus (Acorus calamus)
  • Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Cassia (Cassia fistula)
  • Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
  • Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
  • Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
  • Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  • Mustard (Brassica juncea)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
  • Red or White Thyme
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
  • Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
  • Savory (Satureja)
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
  • Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Some final words...

Buy from only genuine and honest brands

When purchasing any essential oil based products for your pets, always check the labels to see what essential oils are in the formulation. If you spot any products which do not list their ingredients, it's a red flag and you should avoid those products at all cost.

Sure, some may not be descriptive to the point where they tell you how much of each essential oil is inside, that's fine, but they should be transparent about all the other ingredients inside.

In any case, essential oils used in a product should be clearly listed on their labels. If not, do ask for them. And if they tell you it's a "trade secret" that they cannot reveal, this is once again another red flag. We at Happy Fluff won't recommend buying the product.

Dual or multi-species products

Today, there are many products out there which state that they are "all-purpose" and are dog and cat friendly. However, we advise that some caution be exercised before using any of these products. Do refer to the lists above to see if any of the essential oils could be dangerous to your pet.

Remember that what may be safe for one furry friend might not be safe for another.

That's all for today folks. Until next time!