A customer recently wanted us to recommend an "apple essential oil" they could add to 4-Legger's Unscented Certified Organic Dog Shampoo.
She said had used "another natural dog shampoo with apple essential oil" and really liked the scent.
We asked her if the ingredient in the other product was apple extract, tincture, or apple infused oil.
She fetched the bottle to discover it said "apple fragrance oil".
Ah, ok. That makes sense.
It isn't an essential oil. It is a synthetic fragrance.
There is no such thing as apple essential oil.
So, what is the difference between essential oil and fragrance oil?
Essential oils are pure distillations of flowers, bark, leaves, roots, peels or resins that have not had a carrier oil (coconut, olive, etc.) added. While there are different extraction methods, 4-Legger selects essential oils that have been naturally extracted by steam or cold press.
As you can imagine, if you are working to extract the pure compounds out of a flower it takes a LOT of flowers to get a small quantity of essential oils.
The quality of essential oils can vary by crop, region where they are grown, the amount of rainfall, temperature, sunlight, extraction method, handling, and other conditions.
High quality essential oils are expensive and prized for their scent as well as their beneficial and therapeutic properties (which can also vary by crop).
Fragrance oils are synthetic imposters. They are developed in the laboratory with the goal of smelling like an essential oil. Since they are synthetic they are more consistent in scent from batch to batch but do not contain the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
Many companies claim fragrance oils can elicit an emotional response from the smell of the synthetic fragrance oils - called aromachology (psychology of aromas) - not to be confused with aromatherapy (therapeutic benefit).
While that may be true, many of these fragrance oils are made from petrochemicals and like air fresheners have been linked to health issues.
A September 2007 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council identified air freshers as a health threat from chemicals called phthalates with links to hormonal abnormalities (which may lead to cancer), birth defects, and reproductive problems. In 2014, Scientific American reported phthalates having a link to a child's future risk of asthma.
While it is possible to find fragrance oils that are not made with phthalates, there are no regulations to disclose ingredients and there are no studies that research safety on the use of fragrance oils for you or your dog.
While you probably know your dog's nose is 40x more sensitive than your nose; you may not realize how sensitive your dog's body is to artificial fragrance and low grade essential oils.
Did you know diffusing a synthetic fragrance or low grade essential oil can actually change your dog's blood chemistry?
Dr. Melissa Shelton, DVM, holistic veterinarian and owner of animalEO found this to be the case: "We had started to document clear problems in animals coming from homes using plug-in air fresheners, spray air fresheners, odor eliminating sprays, perfumes, fabric softeners, and toxic cleaners. Seizures, kidney value elevations, liver value elevations, feather picking, skin problems, and even ear infections resolved as the use of these products was eliminated."
With dogs sensitive enough to identify seizures in humans, it is no surprise their bodies are sensitive enough to identify what is truly natural and what is synthetic.
Think about that next time you are out shopping!
Learn about "poultry digest" and other ingredients in dog toothpaste and how natural dog toothpaste like dental powder and pet safe essential oils are a safe and non-toxic alternative to products with synthetic ingredients.
You can clean your dog's teeth and gums without synthetic ingredients!
If you are new to the use of essential oils, welcome!
Essential oils are therapeutically beneficial for both you and your pets.
Unfortunately, the quality of essential oils is a confusing smorgasbord with marketing that spans from honesty all the way to misleading claims and outright lies. It can be difficult to find essential oils that are safe to diffuse around your pets or yourself if you are searching based upon what is on the bottle or what the website says or worse, based exclusively on price.
We've got a quick "how to" on the use of pet safe essential oils you can use to make your house smell fresh and clean!
When your dog has a neurological issue, it can be scary. While essential oils aren't miracle cures, they are very beneficial to support neurological conditions, giving your dog the best possible opportunity.
Learn more about the NeuroBoost™ and NeuroBalance™ essential oil blends and why we've integrated them into our own dog's life.