Essential Oils for Animals – Interview with Nan Martin

Nan & Lexie





October 2011

Essential oils are a great and inexpensive way to assist your animals, and yourself, to deal with various life conditions. Today I present to you an exclusive interview with Nan Martin, a great animal lover and equestrian, who now spends her life promoting the use of therapeutic grade essential oils for the benefit of everyone involved!

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are one of nature’s best kept secrets. Essential oils are the volatile liquids of the plant. They are obtained from properly distilling any part of the part including the seeds, roots, bark, stems, leaves, fruit, flowers or branches! I have personally used over three hundred single oils and blends for almost everything under the sun. And every new oil or blend of oils comes with a different experience, a testimonial or sometimes even a miracle!

What Oil Grade do you Recommend?

I always recommend “therapeutic grade essential oils” as they are far superior quality than what is labeled pure grade, aromatherapy or even certified organic essential oils. They are not adulterated or changed by the distillation process.  Many companies dilute the oils or use solvents to extract them. This changes the chemistry of the oil and it can be harmful, especially with animals since they are more sensitive than humans to synthetics.

So, it is in your best interest to use therapeutic grade essential oil if you are using them for any kind of healing work whether it is emotional or physical!

Nan & Roxie

There is always an emotional component to any life or health situation, especially if you or your pet is carrying fear, anxiety or anger. My favorite analogy to explain the emotional component principal is the “smell of home baked cookies”. When you come in a kitchen where there is the smell of freshly baked cookies, it will often trigger a childhood memory. This happens because of the memories stored in the limbic part of the nervous system (triggered by the aroma of cookies). So, depending on what was happening when you smelled the cookies, your response may be positive or negative!

A certain level of anxiety or fear is usually associated with the emotional component of unpleasant memories. And essential oils can really help release the root emotion of the anxiety or fear. On my site you will find a good description of that phenomenon and what essential oils are recommended for various emotions

What are Essential Oil Blends?

Blends are a mix of several specific oils put together for their synergistic effect to release the best results to a specific condition. A blend of essential oils usually benefits a condition more efficiently than just one essential oil. There is an art to blending oils and even the order of the mixing the oils can change the desired result; so that is why I advocate professionally made blends especially for those who are new at using the oils or for emotional release work. They do the work for you!

How much Essential Oil do I Use?

This will vary with the purpose of your application.  But generally, several drops in your palms, bottom of your feet or on location will be sufficient. But for severe injury or illness you will want to use more. Oils can be diluted up to 30% with a pure vegetable oil for a massage; and more for children and certain pets. For instance, one drop per tablespoon or more of pure vegetable oil is recommended for very small pets or infants.

Do you use the same quantity of Essential Oils for Animals than Humans?

Not really, the quantity will be determined by the condition of your animal’s health; and the size and weight of the weight of the animal. You definitely want to use a small quantity to start with or a higher dilution for small animals as with infants. But for horses or myself, I rarely dilute any of the oils! For more information on quantities and dilutions, visit Nan’s site.

Can we use the same Essential Oils for Humans and Animals?

Yes, 95% of the time we can use the same oils but there are exceptions. Remember, the biggest factor is again the quality of the essential oil. Therapeutic grade oils are extremely safe and effective when used properly; however the lower grade essential oils are cut with solvents to save money and therefore, there is a much higher risk of skin irritation and other negative reactions. Also, keep in mind that cats metabolize things differently than humans and other animals, so you have to be cautious when working with oils for them. For more info, check Nan’s site.

Are there any Essential Oils you should not use for Animals?

Not really, but personally I wouldn’t use anything but therapeutic grade oils because animals are much more sensitive to synthetic chemicals and products than we are. And cats are always the exception because they may not be able to tolerate certain oils. Oils that contain citrus, pine or phenols generally should be avoided for cats; however, the oil quality is the determinant! I have used Young Living Therapeutic Oils on cats containing all of these constituents with no issues. But, generally, for animals I will always choose the gentlest oil when there is an option.

Do they work as well on Animals as in Humans?

Absolutely! Due to the physiological similarities animals react in similar ways like humans; and probably better because they don’t have any pre-conceived ideas about the oils. However, I would like to bring a personal observation that I have made while working with horses. As you know horses are much attuned to their environment. When horses are presented with something to smell, they will usually choose one of their two nostrils to evaluate it first…not both.

So when you offer your horse an essential oil, note which nostril they use to smell the oil. The olfactory system of the horse is similar of the one in humans but as I just noted they can smell and process the oil from the physical or emotional component. So, accordingly we have:

  • The left nostril, governed by the right brain hemisphere, relates to emotional issues.
  • The right nostril, governed by the left brain hemisphere, relates to physical issues.

It is an interesting observation since it helps you evaluate the type of issues your horse is dealing with and how they commonly process information.

How do Animals Respond to the Oils?

Animals respond very well to essential oils! Remember that before domestication, in the outdoors, animals used their sense of smell to evaluate their food as well as their environment. (And they often sought out plants intuitively to heal their ailments.) This evolutionary process made them extremely sensitive and responsive to smells. And as we spoke about before aromas have a direct effect on the limbic part of their nervous system where the emotions are stored.

Are they any Contraindications to the use of Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils?

Not when used correctly. There are oils that should be used cautiously or not at all for women or animals that are pregnant, for children or animal babies, and for animals or people who have epilepsy. But with that said, you always want to follow the safety information of course. On the website at the bottom of each essential oil page there is a “Safety Portion” for each product that one should review before using a particular oil. Please go to Nan’s site to see what is right for each condition you might want to address.

Are there Allergic Reactions to Essential Oils?

No, allergic reactions are not possible from essential oil because allergies are a response to histamine, which is a protein; and pure essential oils that are steam distilled do not contain protein. However, this is not the case with adulterated and lower grade oils that contain synthetic compounds. Most allergic responses, extreme skin sensitivities or other issues are caused by people using poor quality oils or simply using them incorrectly. Skin sensitivity for instance is possible with therapeutic grade oils, but can be easily corrected by applying a pure grade vegetable oil over the essential oil to slow the body’s absorption rate of the oil. Or by diluting the oil prior to application.

One exception is oils that have been cold pressed or expressed oils such as citrus oils. Because they do not go through a steam distillation process the protein is present in small amounts.

Final note on reactions…If you have an allergy to almond, wheat germ oil or other “vegetable oil” check the ingredients on your blends or massage oils so that you don’t have an allergic reaction to the carrier oil.

What would you Recommend as an Anti-inflammatory?

Inflammation of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints are best addressed by using essential oil blends such as “PanAway” blend and “Ortho-Ease” or “Ortho Sport” massage oils. They both address the physical and emotional component of the inflammation and together you can’t beat them! PanAway contains wintergreen, helichrysum and clove – all excellent natural anti-inflammatory oils. Check out the sections for pain, muscles and inflammation on the website. Essential Oils are perfect for this application.

Over the years, I have used many essential oils for sore muscles and joints for me and the horses. But one of the easiest and best homemade horse liniment recipes is: Take a half a cap of the Ortho Ease massage oil blend and add to a half a cup of Epsom salts. Then place in a bucket of water and sponge away! It works wonders, smells great and you can use it for yourself too!

What would you Recommend for Loss of Appetite?

To assist an animal who has lost its appetite, I recommend lemon, ginger or spearmint essential oils. These three essential oils also work to increase appetite of healthy animals during training to help them put on weight.

What would you Recommend to prevent Dehydration?

“Citrus Fresh” is an amazing blend for dehydration as well as anxiety and concentration.  It helps balance the electrolytes in the body and helps purify the water. Citrus Fresh essential oil also increases the absorption of Vitamin C so I love to place a drop or two in my own water too!

What would you Recommend for Anxiety?

There are several essential oils you can use for anxiety: lavender, geranium, jasmine and orange are some of the most common ones. However, there are many fantastic blends of essential oils that are very powerful to minimize anxiety such as Peace and Calming. On my site you will find a whole list of the blends and their specifics so definitely check it out.

What would you Recommend for Hair Loss?

Animal hair loss can be triggered by several factors. In dogs, what we call “hot spots” can be soothed easily with essential oils such as lavender, tea tree or clove and a few others. In horses, most hair loss is related to fungal infection. Tea tree or Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil works great for that as well. There is a blend called Melrose that contains Tea Tree plus another gentler melaleuca species, Melaleuca quinquenervia, plus rosemary and clove and it is excellent for most horse and dog skin conditions including skin fungus, hot spots, insect bites and cuts and wounds!

What would you Recommend for Colic?

Without hesitation I recommend the blend of essential oils called “Di-Gize”. It works great for this condition or any intestinal related problem. ‘Di-Gize” contains 8 different essential oils including peppermint which addresses the emotional upset associated with this state. It also works well for dogs suffering from food poisoning or motion sickness.

What would you Recommend for “Fleas”?

Essential oils are great for homemade flea treatment. There is a great blend of essential oils called “Purification” that contains citronella, tea tree and lemongrass that is extremely useful in deterring fleas and flies around the barn. Make a spritzer from it and use it on your dogs and horses! Palo Santo, Cedarwood and Lavender are good oils as well!

I personally thank Nan for sharing her great knowledge of essential oils with us.  I often recommend her to my clients to help them design the best essential oil program for their animal.

To find out more about Nan Martin, LSH/CRP, her intuitive consulting and essential oils; and to sign up for her free E-Zine visit:

This interview was conducted by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaight of Animal Awareness. Visit Animal Awareness at for more information.

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