Essential Oil Vet with Dr. Janet Roark
Recently I did a podcast with Dr. Janet Roark, also known as the Essential Oil Vet. Dr. Roark is a veterinarian who has been practicing for over 16 years, and who began using essential oils in her practice after seeing for herself the difference they made for her own health. She has dedicated herself to educating others about the safe and effective use of essential oils for animals, as well as the people who own and love them. Her website, essentialoilvet.com, is filled with incredible resources, from essential oil safety and dilution guides, to recipes, consultations and more!
Listen in to the whole episode:
Dr. Janet Roark, the Essential Oil Vet
While experiencing some health issues a few years ago, Dr. Roark found herself visiting the doctor’s office 2-3 times a month, being prescribed various pharmaceuticals, and experiencing some unpleasant side effects. Despite being skeptical of essential oils, as many people are, Dr. Roark decided to try essential oils herself. Within 15 minutes, she says she began to feel better. Through the use of therapeutic essential oils, she was able to get off her prescribed medications altogether.
Within 6 months, she began to use essential oils on her own animals and eventually in her veterinary practice as well. Her first client that she tried essential oil therapy on, was a horse who responded very well to the therapy within an hour. Dr. Roark knew then that she had to continue to integrate essential oils into her practice. She has now been using them in her practice for over 7 years, and is now commonly known as the Essential Oil Vet.
“I think we never really know everything and being open minded about new ways of approaching health, for our animals in particular, is really important because we don’t know everything and sometimes we stumble upon solutions like I did with essential oils, and then it becomes part of what we do and who we are and really I would not want to practice any other way.” – Dr. Janet Roark
What are Essential Oils?
An essential oil is a volatile, aromatic compound. Essential Oils come from plants, which have highly concentrated, natural chemical compounds in their roots, bark, leaves, seeds or flowers. These compounds are extracted from plants, distilled and combined with a carrier oil, to create an essential oil.
Essential oils are most commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy, though some oils can also be used topically or given internally. It evaporates quickly at room temperature, which makes it great for aromatherapy and diffusing.
Are Essential Oils Safe?
One important thing to keep in mind about essential oils is that they are extremely potent. An essential oil is about 50-70 times more potent than an herb. This can be very useful, as a little will go a long way. But this also means it has the potential to be dangerous, especially for small animals.
An important tip for safely using essential oils is to do your research when it comes to sourcing. Use only therapeutic or medical grade essential oils. This means not purchasing oils from amazon, your local supermarket, or any company who does not provide test results. Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA, which means companies are making their own essential oils, using synthetic fragrances, adding toxic fillers, or otherwise adulterating the oils in harmful ways.
A reputable supplier will have a certificate of analysis for their essential oils, specifically a GCMS test. GCMS stands for Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry. This is generally known as the gold standard for chemical analysis of essential oils. A GCMS test will verify an oil’s purity, authenticity, quality, and safety. This will also help you understand the oil’s therapeutic applications, whether it’s safer for internal, topical or aromatic use.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Pets?
There is a lot of controversy and misinformation online about the dangers of essential oils when it comes to our pets. While yes, there are some essential oils that are somewhat harmful for small animals, most of the stories you hear about a dog having a negative reaction are actually due to synthetic oils and adulterated oils. A negative reaction is highly unlikely from a pure, natural essential oil.
Essential oils also need to be properly diluted, whether they are being diffused or applied topically. The most common adverse reaction, when using essential oils for your pet, is skin irritation. However most of these reactions resolve themselves, with dilution and fresh air, within 24-48 hours. In any case, caution should always be used around animals that are pregnant, nursing, young, or on certain medications.
Pets have millions more olfactory receptors than humans do, which does make them sensitive to strong smells, so proper dilution is important. Also, just remember that for dogs and cats and small animals, the smaller they are, the more you want to dilute it.
Dr. Roark also advises to stick to three to four drops in your diffuser and use a water based diffuser on an intermittent setting. Additionally, always leave the door open to the room with the diffuser, so that pets can leave freely. Dr. Roark also has an incredible amount of helpful resources on essentialoilvet.com to help you safely use essential oils for your pet, including Safety guides specific to species, a Dilution Guide for animal use, Webinars, Recipes, and even a myth-busting section.
What Essential Oils are Safe for Dogs?
Most essential oils are safe for dogs, as long as you’re using only therapeutic or medical grade essential oils with a GCMS test, are properly diluting the oil, and are following the recommended therapeutic applications.
Some essential oils to use extra caution with, or keep away from your dog, are tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, wintergreen oil, and birch oil. These are very potent when ingested, and dogs can’t metabolize them as well or as quickly as humans can. Also use caution with “hot oils”, which includes cinnamon, clove and oregano oils.
What Essential Oils are Safe for Cats?
Despite much misinformation surrounding the toxicity of essential oils in cats, many essential oils are actually safe for cats as well. Once again, as long as you make sure to use only therapeutic or medical grade essential oils with a GCMS test, properly dilute the oil, and follow the recommended therapeutic applications.
Some common myths surrounding cats and essential oils are that lavender, citrus and pine oils are toxic to cats. These myths mostly originated from the use of synthetic oils and compounds, developed in labs, rather than natural therapeutic and medical grade essential oils.
Cats do lack a liver enzyme that is important for metabolizing certain compounds. This makes them more susceptible to toxicity of all kinds. However, if you use the proper precautions, most essential oils are perfectly safe to use with cats.
Some essential oils to use extra caution with, or keep away from your cats, include eucalyptus oil, which can be toxic to cats when ingested, and spearmint and peppermint oil, which can cause some respiratory issues in some cats. Also avoid tea tree oil aka melaleuca, wintergreen and birch oils, as with dogs. Additionally, use extra caution with “hot oils”, which includes cinnamon, clove and oregano oils.
Pet Safe Essential Oils
Here are just a few great essential oils for dogs and cats, regularly used by Dr. Janet Roark on her own pets, as well as in her veterinary practice.
Cedarwood oil comes from evergreen conifers, including cedar and juniper trees. It is very grounding, as many tree oils are, and is very helpful with calming stress and anxiety. It’s also helpful in animals to repel insects and pests. Cedarwood oil can be diffused or applied topically for dogs, for cats diffusion is preferred. Cedarwood oil is not for internal use.
Copaiba oil comes from a tropical tree, native to South America. It can help soothe anxious feelings and also supports the cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, immune, and respiratory systems. Copaiba oil can be diffused, applied topically, or given internally, though for cats diffusion is preferred.
Frankincense, sometimes referred to as the King of Oils, is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It has been widely used with animals and has a very wide margin of safety, even in newborns and birthing animals. It is useful in countless conditions including arthritis, seizures, cancer, tumors, cysts, depression, behavioral issues, immune stimulation, autoimmune disease, and more. Frankincense can be applied topically, diffused, and or given internally.
Lavender has been used for centuries for its beautiful aroma as well as it’s calming and relaxing properties. It has benefits as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antitumoral, and a sedative. It’s been studied extensively in animals and it is safe to use on all species. Lavender can be applied topically, given internally, or diffused.
Chamomile oil comes from the chamomile plant. There are two common varieties, Roman and German. Roman Chamomile is popular for its soothing properties. It helps to calm nerves, manage pain and restore emotional balance. Roman Chamomile can be diffused, or applied topically.
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. This essential oil is most known for its nervous system and anti-inflammatory benefits, and also promotes healthy immune function. Turmeric oil is beneficial internally, topically and aromatically.
These are just a few examples of beneficial essential oils for your pet. For many more essential oil suggestions, recipes, safety tips and dilution guides for your pet, visit Dr. Roark’s essentialoilvet.com
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years. She operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. Angela got her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine. She then founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets.
Angela has seven dogs. Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle. Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab. Plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. Additionally, she uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians and the Veterinary Cannabis Association. In fact, Angela has educated hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians on the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals.
About Dr. Janet Roark
Dr. Janet Roark is a veterinarian and the proud owner of Hill Country Mobile Veterinary Service in Austin, Texas. She graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. She started using essential oils for her own health. After battling physical as well as emotional struggles related to stress. Essential oils have quite literally changed her life forever. Dr. Roark began using essential oils in her practice about 6 months after incorporating them into her daily life. Doing research and reading every available book and article she could find on the subject. Her first case was nothing short of miraculous and she has never looked back since. She has dedicated herself to educating others about the safe and effective use of essential oils. Both for animals and the people who own and love them!