Aromatherapy for your dog?
I frequently get asked if essential oils are suitable for use with dogs, the answer is most essential oils are suitable for dogs, however some can be toxic to dogs and many to cats. I do love essential oils. I often put a few drops of lavender in back of my vehicle before collecting dogs (not in the front or I would be too relaxed to drive).
“Traditional treatments for travel-induced excitement in dogs may be time-consuming, expensive or associated with adverse effects. Aromatherapy in the form of diffused lavender odour may offer a practical alternative treatment …” (Wells 2006).
Essential oils are the concentrated liquid found in plants that contain the aromatic compounds. They are usually expensive, do not go for the cheap supermarket versions as they will usually be a lower quality and therefore not have the desired effect (look for 100% essential oils written on).
Remember, dogs are more sensitive than humans to essential oils.
Always dilute heavily and use in moderation, even when inhaling
Take special care to not get essential oils in your dog’s eyes or nose.
Avoid using high-phenol oils such as Oregano and Thyme with any animals, especially cats.
Use essential oils to address an issue; they are not to be used to prevent a health issue.
Use caution when using essential oils with cats. Cats are also generally averse to citrus essential oils.
Every animal is different, so carefully observe how each animal responds to the oils, the smaller the animal, the less is needed. Use common sense and good judgment as you try different methods.
Avoid using essential oils with puppies under 12 weeks old.
You can offer various closed bottles of essential oils to your dog and allow them to choose the one they prefer.
Uses of Essential Oils
Use 3-5 drops and dilute it 80-90% in a carrier oil. You can put essential oils straight on the dog’s skin if it has been diluted properly.
skin issues such as eczema, bacterial or fungal infections
Precautions to using Essential Oils
While most, but not all essential oils are generally safe, they are very powerful and can cause adverse effects as well as positive.
The biggest problem with essential oils is that they may contain contaminates that can make a more serious issue arise, ensure you use only therapeutic grade oils from a reputable company and verify the quality before using them.
Use essential oils in small doses (a dose or two) diluted with about 50 drops of a carrier oil (such as almond oil or olive oil). Dogs have a very acute sense of smell, watch carefully for signs that they are not tolerating the oil and remove if they do not appear to like it. And use very sparingly on cats as they find them harder to tolerate than dogs.
Avoid using essential oils on dogs under 12 weeks and elderly dogs and do not use for longer than a two week period without consulting an essential oil practitioner to ensure it is suitable.
The following oils can be used in first aid and are safe for short-term use with dogs:
Cardamom: Diuretic and antibacterial, it can normalise your dog’s appetite if they are eating less than usual, help with colic, coughs, heartburn and nausea.
Chamomile: There are German and Roman Chamomile Essential oils. German chamomile has anti-inflammatory benefits which may help to reduce allergic reactions and Roman chamomile helps to calm nerves and reduce teething pain and muscle pain.
Frankincense: Has helped some cases of cancer. Works on the immune system. Has reduced tumours and external ulcers. Increases blood supply to the brain (but do use with caution as it can worsen hypertension).
Helichrysum: Anti-bacterial, reduces bleeding in accidents, skin regenerator, helps repair nerves. It can also help with cardiac disease.
Lavender: My favourite essential oil. It can use pure or diluted. Great for mood elevating and removing anxiety. It can help relieve pain and itching, it may help allergies, burns, ulcers, insomnia, car ride anxiety and car sickness, to name a few.
Peppermint: This can help stimulate the circulation which help your dog’s skin and coat. It can help with motion sickness, arthritis and repel insects.
Spearmint: Helps to reduce weight. Good for colic, diarrhoea and nausea. When diluted and used short term, this oil is helpful for many gastrointestinal issues in cats.
Essential Oil Recipes
Calming Mist Spray
*5 - 10 drops of Lavender
* 5-10 drops of Roman Chamomile
*Glass spray bottle.
Mix in the bottle and shake before each use.
Relieve anxiety and fear in dogs
*3 drops peppermint
*6 drops Rosemary
*5 drops Lavender
*8ml carrier oil
Massage this blend onto the dog’s spine. Use once daily only.
Reduce dog odours
*10 drops Lavender
* 10 drops Geranium
* 8 drops Lemon
* 20ml apple cider vinegar
Put in a spray bottle and spray, making sure to cover the eyes. Shake well between each spray.
Until more conclusive studies are available, essential oils should remain a complementary treatment, not an alternative to pharmaceuticals. You should consult with your vet before taking any action.
Essential Oils that are safe to use with your dog:
Orange (Sweet, Blood)
Rose (Use with extra care)
Tea tree (Use with extra care)
Essential oils that could be unsafe for your dog:
Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis)
Boldo (Peumus boldus)
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)
Cassia (Cassia fistula)
Chenopodium (Chenopodium album)
Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Hyssop (Hyssopus sp. with the exception of Decumbens)
Juniper (Juniperus sp. with the exception of Juniper Berry)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Red or White Thyme
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Santolina (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)Use with extra care
Terebinth (Pistacia palaestina)
Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Bell, Kristen Leigh 2002. Holistic aromatherapy for Animals. Forres, Scotland:Findhorn Press
Wells, D.L 2006 Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. JAVMA