Essential oils for animal first aid

Understanding the beneficial properties of essential oils reveals how they can be so helpful in veterinary emergencies.

Plants use the essential oils they produce for their own biological safety. Essential oils are known to be antimicrobial, anti-histaminergic, and anti-inflammatory. They can serve as neurotransmitters, tissue hormones, enzymes, and cofactors for biological processes. They promote tissue healing by supplying negative ions, ozone and oxygen. Essential oils can help manage pain and infections and promote tissue regeneration.

Essential oils for first aid 

BleedingHelichrysum italicum on location, undiluted. Unlike cauterization, this oil also protects against infections and promotes tissue healing. Very useful after dental procedures. Use caution around cautery, as essential oils are flammable.

Bruising and painHelichrysum italicum, Peppermint and Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) undiluted on location.

Burns — Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) on location every five minutes for 30 minutes, then twice a day until healed.

Allergic reactions — Lemon, Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum) and Frankincense, undiluted on location. Can use over carotid arteries if systemic reaction. Very useful topically at vaccine injection sites.

Heat stroke — Peppermint diluted in ice water and misted over the whole body. Place undiluted on the feet and follow with a cold wet pack to drive in the oil.

These are just some examples of how to use essential oils in an emergency, to support recovery. In first aid applications, the oils are rarely diluted. This is a time for strong action.

Make sure you know your oils. Many products are diluted with fillers or are not Biologically Active® and could therefore cause damage rather than help. For example, while Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) helps with burns, Lavandin is high in camphor, and can actually cause burns.

Oil quality, type of oil, and technique all matter in using essential oils responsibly.


Dr. Nancy Brandt graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1990, and later began her studies in acupuncture, Chinese medicine, chiropractic medicine, and naturopathic modalities. In 1999, she founded her practice, Natural Care Institute. In 2017, Dr. Brandt founded UnBound Center for Animal Wellness, for special needs pets. She pioneered the field of Veterinary Medical Aromatherapy® and founded the Veterinary Medical Aromatherapy Association ( and


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