Is Neem Oil Safe for Pets?
First let’s take a look at what Neem Oil is:
Neem oil is a carrier oil extracted from the neem (Azadirachta indica), a tree native to Sri Lanka, Burma, and India, and now grown in tropical regions around the world.
Ayurvedic practitioners use most parts of the tree to treat various conditions, says Dr. Lisa Pinn McFaddin, medical director at Independent Hill Veterinary Clinic in Manassas, Virginia. In the United States, oil from the seed is used, most commonly as a topical application. “Cold pressed oil is the preferred method of oil extraction, and the oil varies in color from yellow to brown to red.”
Neem oil contains properties like omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids and vitamin E, but most of its benefits are attributed to triterpenes, Pinn says. (Triterpenes are a chemical compound in plants and animals that allows them to manage inflammation.)
Can Neem Oil be safely used on pets:
The short answer is, yes. While veterinarians say neem oil can benefit some animals, there are also limits to what it can do.
What can Neem Oil help my pets with:
Neem oil is most reliably used as a repellent. “Neem oil can be used topically to repel and kill common biting insects, including mosquitoes, biting midges, and fleas,” says McFaddin, who is an integrative veterinarian. It’s questionable whether neem oil is effective at repelling and killing ticks, she adds.
Its effectiveness depends on a number of factors. “The ability for neem oil to be antimicrobial and antiparasitic is variable pending the degree of susceptibility of the organism for which it is being used to deter and the concentration, frequency, and duration of the product’s use,” says Dr. Patrick Mahaney, veterinarian and owner of Los Angeles-based California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness.
Vets advise against using neem oil—or any other herbal remedy—as a sole repellant, and say it should be used in conjunction with traditional preventives. “Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks carry life-threatening diseases such as heartworm, Babesia, Bartonella, Lyme disease, tapeworm, and many more,” says Dr. Danielle Conway, a nutrition resident at the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.
Some of neem oil’s properties—azadirachtin, nimbin, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E—suggest that it might also be effective in treating ringworm, local demodectic mange, hot spots, soothing inflamed skin, and reducing itch, says McFaddin. “However, there are no studies documenting the efficacy of neem oil for the successful treatment of these conditions.”
Neem oil is also an anti-fungal substance making it a highly sought after product especially to heal fungal infections on animals. Neem oil has proven to be really helpful for treating horses during the warm seasons by using it as a preventative measure against swarms of ticks, mites and mosquitoes which like to make life miserable for grazing horses.
A neem oil based substance can do a great job in helping to safeguard horses against the nasty bite marks and lesions midges and other flying pests inflict and on top of that, they can speed up the healing of any existing bites and irritations that were already made on the horse’s coat and skin.
A few drops applied onto the mane and tail delivers instant soothing relief for any horse suffering from summer itch.
Neem oil also serves as a natural pain reliever for horses who are bothered by the itchy bites by applying the substance onto open cuts and sores, so if your horse has been trying to rub themselves and have broken the skin, you can apply the oil straight onto the open area.
With neem oil having natural sterilization and antiseptic qualities, the substance will clean the wound, put bleeding to a halt, protect against infection and promote the healing process.
In addition, applications of neem oil work to soothe irritations or inflammations caused by insect bites and diseases and is also a moisturizer of dry skin. Recent clinical studies have even shown that neem oil delivers a better curative effect on horses than using cortisone.
For more information on how to use Neem oil, check out our first blog post on The Extremely Versatile Neem Oil here.