Essential oils are one way we can make sure that our dog’s life is full of joy and health and happiness. Essential oils are natural, aromatic oils extracted via distillation. Over the years, the uses of essential oils have been examined, studied for their therapeutic and medical properties. These benefits were first discovered to aid humans, but now research is showing that essential oils may benefit our canine companions as well.
Why Essential Oils?
Essential oils have shown to have a variety of benefits for the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of dogs. Addressing everything from ear infections to travel-induced anxiety, people have been exploring the many ways essential oils can enhance the well being of their furry friends. So far, essential oils have found to be a great sedative, anti-anxiety treatment, immune system support, and cough syrup.
More often than not, the use of traditional medicine results in a number of unpleasant side effects, leaving people to wonder if there are less invasive ways to treat their friend. Many experts and dog owners are turning to essential oils because they are easy to use, and when used correctly and safely, a great supplement and a wonderful training aid.
How to use Essential Oils
Before getting started, it’s important to discuss with a couple experts on how using essential oils can benefit the health of your dog. First, discuss with your veterinarian whether or not using essential oils is right for your dog. They are familiar with your dog’s health and behavioral history and will know the safest way to insert them into your dog’s health care routine.
Once you get the green light from your veterinarian, it’s also important to talk to someone, such as an aromatherapist, who has experience in using essential oils. They know the organic chemistry of the oils and can work with you in terms of dosing and how to dilute them correctly.
There are two ways you can consider using essential oils with your pup:
- Topically: You can massage the essential oils directly onto your dog; however, you must always dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil jojoba oil. You can apply essential oils to the toes/pads, spine, and ears. If disinfecting a wound, you can apply directly to the wound. Be sure to avoid the eyes, nose, genital, anal areas of your dog.
- Aromatically: To improve the mood of your dog or decrease their anxiety, you can diffuse an essential oil, such as lavender, into the air. You can also place a drop of essential oil on their collar or dog bed.
Ten Essential Oils that are Safe to Use on your Dog
- Lavender: Calms the nervous system and acclimates dog to a new environment. Great for a road trip, lavender helps to alleviate travel anxiety and carsickness. Also useful for: wound care, ear infections, allergies, skin conditions, ulcers, and insomnia.
- Peppermint: Supports digestive health, respiratory health. Helps alleviate motion sickness, inflammation, and muscle pain.
- Frankincense: Promotes immune system health and relaxation while supporting skin and tissue health.
- Geranium: Great for fungal ear infections and skin irritations. Also effective in repelling ticks.
- Fennel: Beneficial for the glands, fennel helps to balance the pituitary, pineal, and thyroid glands. Also helps to dissolve toxins and fluid in the tissue.
- Ginger: If your dog is experiencing digestive upset, ginger oil brings comfort and balance and is also great for alleviating motion sickness.
- Helichysum: Excellent for skin health and regeneration, helping to heal bruises, scars, and reducing bleeding. Also alleviates skin irritation such as eczema.
- Bergamot: Helpful for ear infections caused by bacterial or yeast overgrowth. Please be aware that bergamot oil causes photosensitivity after use, so avoid the sun after use.
- Cedarwood: A great flea and insect repellent.
- Lemongrass: Another great insect repellent, lemongrass is also wonderful for oil control and safe to use on dogs with skin conditions.
Some Warnings and Considerations
- Dogs have an acute sense of smell, so always dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil and use sparingly.
- Avoid the eyes, nose, genital, and anal area when applying the essential oil.
- Avoid using essential oil on puppies under ten weeks of age, elderly dogs, or pregnant dogs.
- Introduce the oils gradually and watch your dog’s body language. If it is clear that they don’t like a scent, then discontinue use. Like humans, the use of essential oils is individual and is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. If diffusing an essential oil, always have an escape route for your dog if they find the scent to be unpleasant.
- Pay attention to dosing and discuss with your veterinarian the appropriate amount to use with your dog. What’s safe for a large dog may be a toxic amount for a smaller dog.
- Essential oils that are safe to use on dogs can be toxic to other animals such as cats, so make sure that exposure of essential oils is limited to your pooch.
- Limit the use of essential oils to two weeks to prevent toxicity and sensitivity and then give your dog a rest period before resuming use. You can discuss with your veterinarian a schedule for applying essential oils that is safe and the most beneficial.
- Never use essential oils that are old. Essential oils that have been sitting around for a while can oxidize and can cause allergic responses in your dog.
- Essential oils should never be greasy or leave an oily residue on your dog.
- Essential oils considered toxic and to be avoided: Tea tree oil, cassia, clove, thyme, camphor, oregano, garlic, horseradish, juniper, wintergreen, anise, and yarrow.
- It is generally not recommend to give essential oils to your dog orally.
- Purity is the biggest concern when exposing your dog to essential oils. Make sure that the essential oils you are using are therapeutic grade and 100% pure. Listed below are guidelines for buying the right kind of essential oils.
Guidelines for Buying Essential Oils
When it comes to buying essential oils, you get what you pay for. Discount oils bought at warehouses or health food stores are often filled with perfumes and filler chemicals, which can be harmful to your pet or decrease the beneficial effects. When shopping for 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oil, the bottle should have these characteristics:
• The Latin name of the oil, for example: Lavandula Angustifolia
• Common name of the oil, such as Lavender
• Method of distillation
• Country where oil was extracted
• How the plant was grown (for example: organic, wild harvested, cultivated)
• It will says “100% pure essential oil” on the bottle
• Contact information of the company
• Lot number
• Amount of oil in the bottle
So are Essential Oils Right for your Dog?
Not enough scientific study has been conducted to say that essential oils can fully replace pharmaceutical treatment, however, many people have found that the use essential oils can be a wonderful and safe supplement when blended by a professional aromatherapist.
Ultimately, only you and your veterinarian can decide what’s right for your pet and if a more natural route free of the unpleasant side effects of pharmaceuticals is something you may want to explore, essential oils may be something to consider.