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Episode 45: Ask the Vets: Essential Oils for Your Pets

In this episode, In this episode Dr. Mia Frezzo and Dr. Janis Fisher sit down to discuss their top essential oil picks to help with some of the common challenges your cat or dog might face.


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doTERRA: Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast where you'll hear exciting, useful, and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field. If you like what you hear today rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen. We always appreciate hearing from you. Today we're excited to have two veterinarians from the doTERRA Veterinarian Advisory Board, Dr. Mia Frezzo and Dr. Janis Fisher, join us to discuss using essential oils with cats and dogs.

Dr. Frezzo and Dr. Fisher, thank you so much for joining us today. We're excited to have you on to talk about using these incredible essential oils with your cats and your dogs. But first, I want to get to know you guys a little bit better. Dr. Fisher can you tell us a little bit about yourself—where you work and your history with veterinary work and essential oils?

Dr. Fisher: I’ve been working as a veterinarian for the last 20 years, and for the last 15 years I've been working with a more holistic practice. I'm currently at a holistic practice and I'm working as a rehabilitation veterinarian. I am certified in acupuncture, canine rehabilitation, and in animal chiropractic. Most of the patients I'm seeing are going to be either senior pets or sports medicine dogs, although I do still get to see some cats as well, which is great for me.

I've been using essential oils for the last couple of years. I first started using the essential oils because I was looking for some healthy, natural, alternatives to support mine and my daughter's health. These oils helped us so much that I started using them with my own pets and then started using them with some of my friends’ pets when they had questions about what they could be doing with their pets. After I became comfortable with the oils and saw how much benefit I could see with dogs and cats as well, I started incorporating them into my practice at work.

doTERRA: That is great. Thank you so much. And Dr. Frezzo, would you mind introducing yourself—where you work and your history with essential oils and veterinary work.

Dr. Frezzo: Hi I'm Dr. Frezzo. I have been practicing medicine for about 21 years. I graduated from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and I started out practicing very traditionally and gradually I strayed a bit. But what really convinced me of essential oils was my daughter's experience when she was a baby. About eight years ago I really embraced essential oils because I saw the profound effects in my daughter's health, and her response with no placebo effect because she was an infant. It was really striking. From there I started to explore more and more uses for essential oils within my family, and then within my veterinary practice. The benefits and results have been really remarkable. Within the last five years I have now co-authored both the first and second editions of Spoil Your Pet, the top selling essential oil book for dogs and cats. My veterinary practice at that point really blossomed. I practice integrative medicine using essential oils for so many conditions throughout my veterinary practice and the clients and the patients are really pleased with the result.

doTERRA: That is wonderful. And like I said we're so excited to have you here because you both have this every day, hands on experience working with these animals using essential oils getting these incredible results. I think one of the myths that exists among pet owners and essential oil users is that they need a bunch of training and different scientific background to be able to use essential oils with their pets. Dr. Fisher, what do people need to know to use essential oils safely with their pet?

Dr. Fisher: Well I think one of the biggest things that people need to know is that they have to be using a 100 percent pure product. Most of the people that are listening to this podcast today are probably a little bit ahead of the game because they're already using doTERRA essential oils. Because when you are using oils that are of lesser quality a lot of times our pets will have reactions to some of the other synthetic chemical compounds in them. So, the biggest thing I always tell my clients when they're asking me about using essential oils is that you have to use a quality product that is going to be 100 percent pure and natural.

And then the other thing I always caution them about is that our pets are much smaller than people. So, you're going to use them similarly to how you would use them with yourself and your family. But we're going to want to use more dilution with pets and we're going to be a little bit careful about some of the oils that aren't good for being ingested and recognizing the fact that some of these pets do groom themselves, like cats, so much more. We just want to be cognizant of some of the different behaviors that animals do that you don't have to worry about when you're using essential oils on people.

Dr. Frezzo: Although doTERRA essential oils are inherently safe because they are pure and thoroughly tested, we always want to dilute our oils for our pets because our pets are a bit more sensitive than we are. And so, there are a couple of guidelines for diluting oils. For most dogs I would suggest diluting to a one to four percent concentration, which is about one to seven drops per teaspoon of carrier oil. Now I would suggest that you start a little bit lower—start on the one to two drops per teaspoon—and then gradually increase that concentration if you and your pet feel comfortable about it.

Now for cats I would do even further and dilute down to a half of a percent to two percent. So, you're looking at least one to two drops per two to four teaspoons because cats are even more sensitive than dogs are. And you can gradually increase that concentration as you feel comfortable. Yet, don't forget that even at a diluted concentration these oils are highly effective.

doTERRA: That definitely is key. And just like with people not every animal is going to react the same way to an essential oil. Dr. Frezzo, how can I tell if I have an animal that's having a bad reaction to an essential oil?

Dr. Frezzo: Whenever we use an essential oil via topical use or via diffusion, we want to observe our pets especially if it's a new oil that they haven't been exposed to before. We want to look for signs that would indicate our pet is uncomfortable such as lethargy. So if they're acting a little sleepy a little tired, or if they are breathing a little bit faster than usual, if they're panting or salivating, sometimes they are excessively licking at themselves, if they are squinting their eyes, or any other change in their behavior that seems unusual for you to observe in your pet.

doTERRA: Those are great suggestions and great things to watch out for. Dr. Fisher, building on that a little bit, what should I do if my animal is having a bad reaction?

Dr. Fisher: Well, say I was diffusing an oil and I saw some of those symptoms that Dr. Frezzo described. I would just turn off the diffuser, open up the windows, take the pet to a large room with open air, and a lot of times you'll see that they will go back to their normal state. Their respiratory rate will be normal, they'll stop drooling or doing some of those other signs. If it was an oil that I applied topically to the pet, then we want to use sort of some of the same safety measures that we would use with ourselves. For example, you don't want to try to wash that oil away with water because where oil and water don't mix that can push the essential oil deeper in. What you do want to do is use a carrier oil like Fractionated Coconut Oil and just apply that over the area of irritation to dilute that oil down further. And then once they're feeling comfortable, you can wash that all the way. And the other thing that I always caution people is to resist the urge to use another soothing essential oil if you're seeing a topical irritation. A lot of times if people do see that irritation they think, “oh well now I'm going to try a little bit of Lavender or Roman Chamomile.” But you really do want to resist that urge, and just dilute, dilute with one of the carrier oils until you see that they're feeling more comfortable over that skin area.

doTERRA: Well hopefully with your recommendations from both of you and a little bit of clarification on how to use these oils safely, people can feel a little bit more comfortable using them with their pets at home. I want to move now to some more specific questions about how we can help our cats and our dogs in different situations. We're going into a time of year that can be hard on our immune systems and I think we always want to remember our pets in those situations as well. So, Dr. Frezzo, what can I do to help boost my cat or my dog's immune system naturally?

Dr. Frezzo: One of my favorite essential oil blends for immune health is doTERRA On Guard®. I really enjoy this oil. I think it's beautiful and it is quite effective. doTERRA On Guard can be safely diffused in your home around dogs and cats. Again, we want to watch for any adverse reactions or sensitivity, but I find that really our pets tolerate and accept and even ask for the doTERRA essential oils more than we might recognize. I would suggest that families consider diffusing doTERRA On Guard for 20 or 30 minutes two or three times a day. In many households that pets have grown to accept diffusing for several hours or throughout the whole day. And doTERRA On Guard is an excellent way to really cleanse your home and keep the entire family healthy. 

Another oil that I really enjoy is Frankincense. Frankincense is considered the master oil. It has been said in many places that when in doubt use Frankincense. Frankincense is another oil that we can use either via diffusion or via topical application. I really like the doTERRA Frankincense Touch roll-on. I think it's really convenient and it's pre-diluted, and that makes it handy to use nicely. I just roll it in the palm of my hand—you don't need very much of course with your pets—I rub my hands together and then pet the dog or cat to distribute over their fur. And again, we don't have to worry about the cats ingesting Frankincense in this way when they groom. They often look to groom, and ingest it, and get even further benefit from it. So, these are my two oils that I would reach for to support our pets’ immune systems, and in addition the entire family.

doTERRA: And that's one thing I think is so great about using these essential oils with your pets. It's the same things that you are using with your family. Everyone gets that benefit. Dr. Fisher you mentioned that you work with a lot of animals in a sports medicine capacity in ways where you might be dealing with a little bit more of joint discomfort. How can I help my cat or my dog that has that joint discomfort?

Dr. Fisher: One of my favorite blends that I like to use with an older geriatric patient or a sport dog that had a major workout, is AromaTouch®. I do like to dilute this down with Fractionated Coconut Oil if I am using it with pets. I use it topically. I'll apply a little bit to my hands and then I will pet over the area where I think they might have some discomfort, or I'll get owners to use it when they're doing some massage of their pets. A lot of times that gets the blood flowing as well, just that gentle massage. Between massaging the pet and applying the AromaTouch essential oil blend, I find that really helpful with pets.

I do tend to avoid AromaTouch with cats, only because it has Cypress in it which is not meant to be ingested. Cats are such fastidious groomers that I'm very careful with what I put on them that it's always should be oils that can be ingested. So, with cats I prefer to get the Lavender and the Frankincense touch roller bottles and roll a little bit onto my clean hands and then I'll use those two oils to help soothe. And then of course whenever you're talking about joint discomfort we always have to speak about Copaiba. That's one of my favorite oils as well. You can use that topically on cat along with Frankincense and Lavender. All of those are still going to be safe, and even advantageous if the pets do groom themselves and ingest a little bit of oil. If I'm working with dogs, I will actually, oftentimes, add some Frankincense and Copaiba to their food to help with a little bit of joint discomfort as well.

doTERRA: Every time I learn about essential oils and a different capacity I am always blown away and so impressed about how many different options there are for one symptom that maybe someone is having. If you have a dog that doesn't like AromaTouch, there are all these different options for them, and I find that so incredible. Dr. Frezzo, if I have a cat or a dog that lives outside, or maybe I really enjoy hiking with my dog, an issue that people run into a lot are insects. What can we do to keep insects away from our pets?

Dr. Frezzo: There are several effective ways to repel pests and protect us from insect bites. One very effective oil is Geranium. Geranium is really beneficial for the skin as well. Geranium can be applied to the pet in a number of different ways, either topically over those areas of the paws and the back and kind of distribute the oil if you will. Or some people choose to make a spray and spray the pet to protect the pet from a number of pests as you might be outside hiking or just enjoying the outdoors.

You know, when I'm out with my dogs, I want to protect myself and I advise my clients to protect themselves as well as think about the dogs. Because we're right next to each other. Wherever the dogs might be exposed to some pests, we don't want to bring anything home and open ourselves up to bites.

doTERRA: That's perfect, and those are some wonderful, easy ways to make sure you're protected as well as your pets. Dr. Fisher, what can I do to help my cat or my dog that has an upset stomach?

Dr. Fisher: One of my favorite oil blends that I like to use for digestive upset is gonna be DigestZen®.  I like to dilute that, or I like to use the roller bottle, and I will apply that along the abdomen of the pet. If you're using the doTERRA Touch® line, those are gonna be safe to use with the dogs and the cats. Or if you just have your regulars, you can always do that with a little bit of Fractionated Coconut Oil. 

With cats, sometimes they don't really like their belly being rubbed, or even with dogs if they're having some stomach upset and they don't like their belly being rubbed. You could always just apply it along their spine in a petting motion as well. And then I've started using Tamer™ from the Kids Oil Collection. I got that for my daughter when I was at convention this year. One of my older dogs has some digestive upset. She'll sometimes wake up in the night and have a little bit of digestive upset now that she's 15 years old. I started applying to her and I found that very beneficial. 

In cats, other ones that I like to use are Cardamom. Cardamom can be very gentle. Some cats don't tolerate Peppermint as well, and so for those cats I like to use Cardamom instead. I dilute that and apply over their belly or over their spine. Another great one that helps is Myrrh. I'll apply that over the belly or again I'll apply along the spine because oftentimes I find that cats don't like us rubbing their belly, especially if they are having any digestive upset. 

doTERRA: Perfect. We all know that when our pets are having some issues, often we face all of the consequences of that. Having those tools in our toolbelt is incredible just to help them feel better and make sure that we don't have to deal with any nasty repercussions there.

Dr. Fisher: Absolutely and it's one of the ways that you had asked before about how people can use these with pets. I think that this is one of the ways that it's very helpful for them to have their oils on hand and they can start helping their pets as soon as they're seeing a little bit of a problem start.

doTERRA: Exactly, thank you. Dr. Frezzo, my final question is sometimes we can see these little spots of irritated skin on our pets and we don't really know what to do there. How can we use essential oils to help with our pet’s irritated skin?

Dr. Frezzo: Irritated skin is such a common issue among our pets for a number of different reasons. And I find that a combination of oils is really nice. I really like Myrrh. I find Myrrh to be very healing and very soothing to the skin. And many times, I'll add Lavender and Copaiba as well. As you mentioned earlier, essential oils have so many uses. They are such complex compounds that they offer benefits to multiple body systems, which is really beautiful. I often combine Myrrh, Lavender, and Copaiba and apply that topically to the skin. And I find that it is a couple of things. Not only does it directly through the skin and help the skin to heal, the Lavender really doesn't taste so good. So, if a pet tends to have a tendency to lick at a paw, for example or lick at an area, the Lavender helps to deter that and allow the area to heal faster. And so, I find that this combination is really useful.

doTERRA: And again, like with the digestive issues this is something like you said is very, very common. It's so nice to have these oils to turn to, to make sure we can soothe and comfort our animals and help them recover as quickly as possible. Dr. Fisher and Dr. Frezzo, I want to thank you so much for joining us today, for sharing all of your knowledge and your wisdom. I know I have learned so much and I think everyone else has too. So, thank you so much.

Dr. Fisher: You're so very welcome. It was wonderful to do this call with you and I hope more people start feeling comfortable about using these wonderful essential oils with their pets.

Dr. Frezzo: Thank you so much. It has been a great opportunity to participate in this call and to help educate essential oil users and pet owners to feel really comfortable using doTERRA essential oils. These oils offer tremendous benefits and their uses are vast and so I hope that the people listening have a greater appreciation for all that they can do for their pets with essential oils

doTERRA: Thank you for joining us, and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you liked what you heard today, check back next Tuesday when Eliza Bacot joins us to talk about relieving head tension. Also, if you want to try any of the products you learned about, go to, or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today.


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