Saturday Jul 30, 2022

Episode 19: Learn About Essential Oils for Pets with Becki Baumgartner

Dr. Marc Smith: Hey there ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the PET | TAO Holistic Pet Products podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Marc Smith, 20 year practicing veterinarian and co-creator of PET | TAO Holistic Pet Products. Welcome to episode 19 and this topic today is very interesting, and what we're going to talk about is essential oils in animals.

It's something I could never imagine myself talking about, and here I am. I'm doing it. And I have a lovely lady with me today, and I know her very well. She works in my practice. She works in the pet food business. She is an incredible writer. She's an incredible animal advocate, and she's going to talk to us about essential oils, and I want you to welcome Becki Baumgartner. How's it going?

Becki Baumgartner.: Going good, thank you Dr. Smith.

Dr. Marc Smith: Yes, yes I am so glad to have you here in this setting where I get to interview you.

Becki Baumgartner.: Well thank you.

Dr. Marc Smith: Because usually you interview me, right? You tell me things, ask me questions about pets and all that.

Becki Baumgartner: True.

Marc Smith: And so I like being able to put you on the spot. Becki is an incredible lady. She's extremely well-versed in alternative medicine. Tell us some things you do Becki.

Becki Baumgartner: So I do a lot with essential oils for pets. I do a lot of training in the Nashville area, essential oils classes, webinars, some herbal classes, and then continuing education classes for massage therapists in the field of Reiki.

Dr. Marc Smith: So that's pretty impressive right there.

Becki Baumgartner: So, keeps me busy.

Dr. Marc Smith: You've got your own website?

Becki Baumgartner: I do.

Dr. Marc Smith: You have Meetup groups where people flock from all over middle Tennessee right?

Becki Baumgartner: Right, yes.

Dr. Marc Smith: And sometimes I go by there and I see 30 people there, and that's incredible. And that's a big testimonial to you. You know that right?

Becki Baumgartner: Oh, thank you.

Dr. Marc Smith: So, the topic is essential oils in pets. And what we're going to do is we're going to give you a history, I'm going to interview Becki, and then ultimately we're going to give you a case. And some of these things you can apply directly in your pet, dog or cat. Okay?

So, Becki, tell us about essential oils, general overview back to when essential oils kind of started in history and the historical context of it.

Becki Baumgartner: Actually one of the things that stick out in my mind when I started learning about essential oils, is the ancient Egyptians thought that oils were so valuable that when they would rob the pyramids they would steal the essential oils and leave all the jewels and stuff.

Dr. Marc Smith: Wow.

Becki Baumgartner: And that's actually what they found in King Tut's tomb is they found that's where the vats had been opened and the oils taken, but all the jewelry was still in there. And that's how valuable they thought the oils were. Even the ancient Egyptians used the oils for healing.

Dr. Marc Smith: Incredible.

Becki Baumgartner: So that was really interesting.

Dr. Marc Smith: I always remember when I was a little kid and we would read these Bible verses in school, or in preschool, or whatever. They would talk about Frankincense. And I didn't even know what that was. Tell us what that is.

Becki Baumgartner: So Frankincense is actually one of the more pricey oils, but it's a very difficult to get oil if you're getting a pure Frankincense oil. The tree, the Boswellia tree that the Frankincense is actually the sap of the tree, the Frankincense that's used for Frankincense essential oil. The tree itself grows off the side of a cliff, and in order to harvest that the harvesters have to climb up there, climb the cliff, and climb out on the tree that's growing out on the side of the cliff to collect the sap that's used for the Frankincense essential oil. And that's why it's so pricey. If you get a pure oil you get what you pay for, and Frankincense is one of the better ones.

Dr. Marc Smith: Wow. So where does Boswellia grow? Where is it most common?

Becki Baumgartner: It's in the Asia areas, and in the arid, rocky, cliffy kind of landscape therein.

Dr. Marc Smith: Right, and so when the oils are harvested, how do they get the oil? How do they get the sap?

Becki Baumgartner: Oh, well the sap has to be cut off the tree with a knife.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay.

Becki Baumgartner: And then, depending on where you get your oils, like the purest oils the sap is collected and then it's steam distilled. And then the essential oil comes from the distillation process and the excess water and stuff is dumped off, and then you have your pure essential oil that's used for medicinal purposes.

Dr. Marc Smith: Wow, wow. So, some examples, we have Lemon. I'm assuming that comes from lemon peels. Is that right?

Becki Baumgartner: Yes.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay, then we have Peppermint. That comes from ...

Becki Baumgartner: Peppermint leaves.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay, peppermint leaves.

Becki Baumgartner: Right.

Dr. Marc Smith: And can you just tell us some, just brief overview of the other ones? Oregano is one.

Becki Baumgartner: Oregano leaves. Well then some plants you get essential oils from the various parts of the plant. Like Cinnamon for example, Cinnamon essential oil, it's called Cinnamon essential oil, comes from the bark.

That Cassia, which is really in taste and scent similar to Cinnamon, comes from the leaves. So there's a lot, too much to kind of go into here about all that, but sometimes several parts of the same plant can be used in the essential oils called by a slightly different name.

Dr. Marc Smith: So is there an essential oil, like say if my teenager's acting up, okay? Can I, Is there an essential oil that I can spray on her to make her act normal?

Becki Baumgartner: Well it might be easier for you to spray a lot of Lavender on yourself.

Dr. Marc Smith: On me? So I don't respond to her the way she acts right?

Becki Baumgartner: Yeah. So it doesn't irritate you as much and you can just say she's just a teenager.

Dr. Marc Smith: Yes that is a real good point. That's a real good point.

Becki Baumgartner: And Lavender works on dogs too. Very well.

Dr. Marc Smith: Yeah, and I'm going to keep Lavender in my pocket, and so when my teenager irritates me I'm just going to drop a little drop on the top of my head. That sounds like a good idea.

Becki Baumgartner: Actually, it would be better for you to rub it on your feet.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay, why is that?

Becki Baumgartner: With people there's more pores on the bottom of your feet than anywhere else on the body, so it'll get in your bloodstream a lot more quickly and calm you down.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay.

Becki Baumgartner: And on dogs, it's the ear flap it gets in more quickly.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay, okay. So you've kind of gotten me into these essential oils, and so I use them. You know, I'm not the kind of guy that would look like they would use essential oils, right? I mean, let's be honest, right?

Becki Baumgartner: I know. I tell clients that you use them and they kind of giggle sometimes.

Dr. Marc Smith: But I do use them, and I like them. And they make the house smell good, they make, I don't know, it's kind of weird how they do have some emotional or psychological impact on people? And so, we can see those same results in our pets, right? And so if somebody comes into the clinic, and they say hey Becki, I've got a dog that has arthritis, where do you start?

Becki Baumgartner: So, well arthritis is an inflammatory disease and there's several essential oils that are recommended for inflammation. Lavender, believe it or not, I would - It was the one I least, before I learned about it, I least suspected Lavender as being an anti-inflammatory, but it really is. Not only does it calm you emotionally, but topically, rubbed in. And if you mix it with a little Peppermint, Peppermint is like a mild anesthetic on the skin, and then the Lavender goes deep down in to help reduce inflammation in the muscles, and ligaments, and that kind of thing. And it works really well.

Dr. Marc Smith: So, but how do we put these on our pet?

Becki Baumgartner: So with pets you need to dilute the essential oils, and the best thing to do is like at least three drops of carrier oil to one drop of essential oil.

Dr. Marc Smith: What's an example of a carrier oil?

Becki Baumgartner: A carrier oil, per se, would be like a very popular one is Fractionated Coconut oil. Or maybe Grapeseed oil. But with pets, especially furry pets, I prefer to not use a carrier oil, but to use Witch Hazel instead. Witch Hazel doesn't leave a sticky residue on the fur, so it doesn't leave sticky oil spots on like the carpet, the bed, or wherever your pet goes. Pure essential oil will absorb and not leave a mark, and when you mix it with Witch Hazel, there's just not residue after the Witch Hazel, which is water based, will evaporate real quickly. And there's no residue. The oil will go right in, directly into the dog's skin and do its work that way.

Dr. Marc Smith: So, but I want you to explain specifically. So you take a Dixie cup, maybe put a drop or two of essential oil, and then Witch Hazel in it? Tell us that process.

Becki Baumgartner: Oh, okay. Well my favorite way to do it, which I think is most efficient is I like to get little 5 mL or 10 mL bottles that have little roller balls on top. And the roller balls are excellent with pets because all you have to do is tip it upside down and roll it on where you want it to go on the dog. So what I do is I could just kind of eyeball my measurements with the carrier oil in the roller bottle. Or if you want to be more specific you could use an eye dropper and squeeze up some oil in the dropper and do one squirt essential oil, three squirts Witch Hazel, if you want to do it that way. Just make sure it's close.

Dr. Marc Smith: You could use a syringe too, I guess?

Becki Baumgartner: Or a syringe. Just make sure it's as close as possible to one to three, and mix it up in the roller bottle. And if you use Witch Hazel you want to make sure to shake it every time before you use it because the Witch Hazel is water based, and the essential oil will float to the top. But that's a real quick, easy way to apply it to your dog.

Dr. Marc Smith: And so where would we apply it? Do we apply it to the place that hurts? Like a dog with Cranial Cruciate Disease. Do we apply it to the belly where you don't have to really go through any fur?

Becki Baumgartner: It depends on your goal with the essential oil. So if you're using the essential oil for pain, you want to apply it to where the pain is, or inflammation. If your dog has a tummy ache you can concoct a mixture. You can use just plain Peppermint, or there's some other different ones you can blend together, and rub it on the tummy, and it'll help the dogs with like car sickness or upset stomach. If it's something like oil of Oregano that you're wanting to use as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, you want to put it somewhere on the dog that it'll get absorbed quickly. Like the ear flap has the veins real close to the ear, almost the way you would use like a transdermal medicine.

So it just kind of depends on what you want to do.

Dr. Marc Smith: Well that makes sense. Is there any side effects, any problems? What happens if my dog licks the essential oils? Is there any problems associated with that?

Becki Baumgartner: There could be. You want to be very careful and make sure that you're using pure essential oils whenever you put them where your dog may lick. And you want to at least make sure that the oils are safe for ingestion if you're putting them on the paws, or the back, or the feet. And that's really easy to find out. All you have to do is look at the label bottle and it'll tell you. It'll say safe for ingestion or for external use only. Or it'll have a nutrition label on the back, on the label on the bottle. So you just want to look for all of those.

Dr. Marc Smith: All of those little small print, fine things that a lot of us old people can't see right?

Becki Baumgartner: Yes. Make sure to read them before you put them on your dog.

Dr. Marc Smith: Right, right, right. So what do you, Let's say you have a case. I think you had a friend you've told me about who had a dog that had maybe a luxating patella and a cruciate ligament problem?

Becki Baumgartner: Yes. That was Jilleen. She came here and you recommended Adequan for her, and the Adequan worked great. But see what she was trying to do is she came to Dr. Smith for a second opinion. She had a contract with another vet, like a yearly contract. And that vet wanted to refer her out for surgery. What had happened is her little Yorkie jumped off the bed and tore its ACL. And I guess it was a - Was it a partial tear?

Dr. Marc Smith: Something like that. I can't remember.

Becki Baumgartner: And so she came for a second opinion and saw Dr. Smith and he recommended she do Adequan injections to help rebuild the ligament and help everything.

Dr. Marc Smith: Cartilage, joint fluid, etc.

Becki Baumgartner: Cartilage and help everything grow back quicker. And she did that, and then she leans towards wanting to follow a natural route and did not want to give her little Yorkie Rimadyl. So I recommended that she try Peppermint and Lavender mixed with Witch Hazel, and just rub it on her leg every day maybe three or four times a day. And she did that, and she followed Dr. Smith's Adequan protocol, and the little dog actually liked getting the essential oils. I guess she liked that she knew that it made her feel better or something, but she would just sit real still and stick her leg out for it. But the dog's doing great now.

Dr. Marc Smith: Doing great, getting around well.

Becki Baumgartner: Not even limping, actually.

Dr. Marc Smith: Not even limping. Does she think you did that, or I did that?

Becki Baumgartner: Of course she thinks you're the hero.

Dr. Marc Smith: Well I want her to give you a lot of credit because you deserve it.

Becki Baumgartner: Well she was happy with her essential oils.

Dr. Marc Smith: I know. I know. So there's a lot of different companies out there that make essential oils, right?

Becki Baumgartner: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Marc Smith: And how would people - What can you tell them, or is there something you can tell them when they're trying to decide the brand? I want you to give them some insight into how they choose a brand that actually gives the best benefit. Can you do that?

Becki Baumgartner: Yeah, so regulation of essential oils in the United States is not very stringent right now. So in order for an essential oil product to be labeled 100% pure organic essential oil, all that has to be in there, that's really nothing but essential oil is 10%. The rest can be a carrier or whatever. And that's just our labeling laws. I'm not sure why it's that way. But that's the way it is. So you really have to do your homework to find out what the best oil is for you. And I'm not going to talk about the decision I made, but before I made my decision I did a lot of research. I looked at scientific studies. I looked at what oil companies were doing scientific studies, and made my choice that way.

Dr. Marc Smith: So is it safe to say that probably the oils that cost more are more pure, refined, and ultimately better? Is that safe to say?

Becki Baumgartner: You know, I couldn't find any research on the companies that have the less expensive oils to know. So I really can't say.

Dr. Marc Smith: It's hard to say.

Becki Baumgartner: I can just say which oils I would know and trust, I've become quite an oil snob and I'm very particular.

Dr. Marc Smith:  You are an oil snob.

Becki Baumgartner: I'm very particular to even what I put on my skin now.

Dr. Marc Smith:  And an oil freak. I know. I am too. Can you believe that?

Becki Baumgartner: But I'm very healthy.

Dr. Marc Smith: Good, that's good. We all want to be that way, right?

Becki Baumgartner: And our pets too.

Dr. Marc Smith: We want our pets too.

Becki Baumgartner: That's right.

Dr. Marc Smith: Right, that's good. So can you think of anything else to tell people?

Becki Baumgartner: Be very careful using essential oils with cats. Cats are sensitive to a lot of oils that most other mammals are not. Cats and birds are more sensitive than dogs, and guinea pigs, and rabbits.

Dr. Marc Smith: Can you tell us specific oils, or?

Becki Baumgartner: So rule of thumb with your cat is pretty much anything is okay in the diffuser as long as the door is open, and the cat can leave, and fresh air can circulate in and out. The reason oils cause a problem in cats is because their livers and their kidneys don't process a lot of the different oils the way other mammals do. I think it's because of evolution and them just being totally carnivorous and not eating plant materials, is what I've learned. So they don't process it, so you don't want to put a lot of oils on your cat's skin, topically on them. Diffuser only. Be very, very careful and check with your veterinarian that is familiar with essential oils if you want to apply oils to your cat. Diffuser is okay as long as the cat can get in and out. There are two that I feel are safe with cats and that's Lavender and Frankincense. But that still needs to be diluted a lot and not used every day.

Dr. Marc Smith: Right. So you're using the term diffuser, and some people may not know what that term is, right? So what is a diffuser?

Becki Baumgartner: So a diffuser that works well with essential oils to provide the therapeutic effects would be a cold diffuser, which is a diffuser you fill with water, drop the oils in. There's usually a little disk in the bottom that causes a mist, that is not a steam, it's not hot, it's a cool mist. So a cool mist diffuser. If you don't have one of those you can put drops of essential oil in a cool vaporizer, but that puts a lot of extra moisture in the air also.

What you don't want to use, is you don't want to use any of those little things that you put a candle underneath and put the oil in. If you heat the oil, a lot of the therapeutic properties are lost.

Dr. Marc Smith: And so those, they're not real heat stable? Those oils?

Becki Baumgartner: The oils are heat stable, well, the smell is heat stable, so it'll smell good and it'll fragrance your room. But the molecular constituents that have therapeutic effect on your body are not heat stable.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay, well that makes sense. That makes sense. Well that's cool.

Becki B.: Yeah, and it smells good.

Dr. Marc Smith: It does smell good. And I remember you used to crank those things up and play the… what was that music you used to play in the clinic?

Becki Baumgartner: Oh, Music in the Key of Om?

Dr. Marc Smith: Yes, that music. And it used to just mesmerize people and pets when they came through the door, you know?

Becki Baumgartner: Very relaxing.

Dr. Marc Smith: It was a very calming, relaxing, kind of the atmosphere that we try to have in our clinic to help pets and also to help the people, you know? It was really good and I attribute all of that to you.

Becki Baumgartner: Oh thank you.

Dr. Marc Smith: That's awesome. So ladies and gentlemen, I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to essential oils in pets by Becki Baumgartner. Becki, I forgot to tell everybody that you are a master herbalist student. And when are you planning on graduating and?

Becki Baumgartner: Hopefully December 2017. So very excited about that.

Dr. Marc Smith: Awesome, congratulations, that's a big deal. Are you doing your homework?

Becki Baumgartner: I'm trying.

Dr. Marc Smith: Okay, well you got to do your homework, right?

Becki Baumgartner: I know.

Dr. Marc Smith: So anyway, thank you for being here. In future podcasts we're going to talk about essential oils for specific problems like arthritis, like allergies, like GI distress, diarrhea, vomiting, really anything you can kind of think of that ... problems that may afflict our pets. And using essential oils to help them heal and to help them feel better, and to get better.

If you want to look up information about Becki ... Becki, where can people go to find out information about you?

Becki Baumgartner: Oh you can find information about me at and friend me up on Facebook. I have a Facebook page and on that page I have a list of all my upcoming events. I do a lot of free webinars. If you're interested in essential oils, you can learn a lot there.

Dr. Marc Smith: Right. And Becki, let me tell you something. Becki knows what she's talking about. She's a real asset to what we do. And I can't thank you enough for being here. I mean you're incredible. You know that right?

Becki Baumgartner: Well thank you for having me.

Dr. Marc Smith: I tell you that all the time. I hope you know I'm being very sincere about that.

Becki Baumgartner: Oh thank you.

Dr. Marc Smith: So anyway, if you want other information on how to empower yourself to learn the best way to take care of your pet, then go to our blog at Becki is one of the writers and she's got tons of great information there, and tons of beneficial information that you can use every day to help your pets be happy and be healthy. Thank you for listening, and if you liked what we talked about today give us a rating on iTunes. And if you have any questions or you want to know information that we can cover on our podcasts that can help your pet, then feel free to submit questions through our PET | TAO website. Again it's Submit your questions and we'll answer them.

Becki, you are awesome. Thank you for the interview and I'm sure everybody enjoyed it. Until next time everybody, thank you, and we'll see you next week.

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