Essential Oils are great to calm and relax us, as well as bring other benefits, but can they help our pets too? Smell is an essential sense and our emotions are strongly influenced by it. In fact, the first major nerve that enters the brain can detect scent. Our pets also use their smell, of course, but it is much stronger than humans. They can detect all sorts of smells, which contribute to their response to the environment.
Moreover, aromatherapy can be great to use on animals, but before attempting it, you should learn how to properly use essential oils. In this article, we will discuss everything you will need to know about essential oils including what they are, the benefits, unsafe oils, and our favorites that are safe for pets. So, sit back and get the 411 on using essential oils on your pup!
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural compounds that are found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They are very potent with a distinctive smell, which gives the plant their fragrance, such as a rose. These oils protect plants and play a huge role in plant pollination. In addition to protecting plants, they have also aided in natural healing for humans and animals. The physical and chemical properties of the aromatic compounds allow the oils to move through the air quickly to interact with the sensors in the nose. This is why essential oils are commonly used for aromatherapy for dogs.
Essential oils are absorbed by inhalation, ingestion, and contact with the skin. They enter the bloodstream very quickly, so it is very important to remember that very small amounts have a powerful effect on every system of the body, especially for dogs. For example, tiny amounts of some essential oils, like lavender, are used to calm pets and make them feel sleepy.
Furthermore, over 3,000 varieties of these aromatic compounds have been identified to date. Each oil varies from plant to plant bringing different physical and emotional benefits. With the wide range of essential oils, they can be used as single oils or blended oils depending on what your dog needs.
Precautions with Dogs
Before we begin, it is important to know general guidelines and safety before introducing essential oils to your dog. Dogs are more sensitive to essential oils than humans, so it’s not a good idea to just jump right in. It’s a gradual process. When first starting out, it is important to test your dog’s tolerance by diluting the oil. This means adding in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, aloe Vera, or jojoba oil. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using essential oils:
- Dogs bodily systems are more sensitive to essential oils than humans are. The oils should always be diluted, even when just inhaling. Humans may not need them to be diluted, but doing not doing so can be very harmful to dogs.
- Only use essential oils to address an issue, not to prevent a health concern. For example, do not use digestive essential oils for your dog if they do not have any digestive problems.
- DO NOT add essential oils to your dog’s food or water. They are rapidly absorbed into the system and metabolized by the liver. Therefore, this could cause problems especially with younger and elderly dogs.
- It is not recommended to use essential oils with puppies under 10 weeks of age.
- Never leave the essential oil bottles in a place where your dog can get them. If your dog does ingest the oils, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Avoid eyes, nose, and genital areas.
What Do Essential Oils Treat?
Pet owners use essential oils as a natural and holistic way to treat various issues dogs may have. Not only will many of these oils soothe and heal your pup, but it’s also a great bonding experience for the two of you. However, make sure you are using all-natural, high-quality oils that do not have any harmful chemicals. This will more likely cause more problems than help. The following are examples of health concerns essential oils can treat in dogs:
Fleas can be very tricky to get rid of. However, essential oils are great at keeping them away. There are many different herbal solutions to treat this problem but the 2 common oils used are lavender and cedar oil. You can combine these oils in a spray bottle and mist your pup while being careful not to get it in their eyes, ears, and nose. You can also use a cloth and dampen it with the mixture and wipe it on your dog. Another way is to spray the mixture on your dog’s bedding.
The top essential oil that is used to treat anxiety in both humans and pets is lavender oil. This oil is very safe and gentle for dogs. It can be used to calm and soothe your dog by gently massaging it into your dog’s fur and skin. Plus, lavender oil has antibacterial and anti-itch agents, which is great for dogs with skin irritations or cuts.
Dogs skin, just like humans, is very sensitive. Their skin can get dry, flaky, and irritated. Dogs who suffer from allergies can have hot spots, burns, and a lot of pain. When dogs have these issues, they are always in discomfort causing their behavior to change. Some essential oils (when diluted!) to help with healing and soothing the skin include:
- Chamomile- This oil soothes skin irritations and burns.
- Helichrysum- Works for skin issues such as eczema and also provides pain relief and analgesic properties.
- Niaouli- Contains antihistamine and antibacterial properties to help heal skin allergies.
How to Use Oils
Aromatherapy is a great tool for both humans and dogs. If your pup is stressed, just add a few drops of lavender to a diffuser to add the aroma to the air. You can either get a diffuser or simply have your dog smell the oil straight from the bottle or place it on your hands and have your dog smell your hands. On occasion, a dog can have essential oils internally but always consult your vet before doing so because it can be harmful to their health.
Secondly, when using essential oils, use a mixture of 3-5 drops and dilute it with 80-90% in a carrier oil. Use less for small dogs than big ones. Furthermore, use only essential oils that are safe for dogs. There are ones to avoid, which we will mention next in this article. Finally, if your pup doesn’t want the essential oil aroma, no need to push it on them. Sometimes the smell can be overwhelming.
Unsafe Oils for Pets
Essential oils have become quite the trend for a healthy and holistic remedy for dogs. But did you know that some are dangerous to pets? So, if your using a diffuser, you may be impacting your pet without even knowing it. We put this list together to provide you with the information you’ll need to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
Essential oils that are unsafe for pets include but are not limited to:
- Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca)
- Ylang ylang
- Sweet birch
5 Best Essential Oils That Are Safe for Dogs
This oil is considered one of the most versatile essential oils. It creates a sense of peace of Zen and has a calming effect on dogs (and humans!) Lavender is also great at soothing the central nervous system and effectively reduces anxiety and stress. It can also help with car sickness, allergies, and insomnia. It is 100% safe and is recommended to use for dogs in stressful situations or to slow down their hyperactivity.
Secondly, cedarwood oil, is known for its powerful affect at killing and repelling pests like fleas. It has many beneficial properties including an antiseptic for treating issues like kennel cough. It is also great for dogs who suffer from arthritis because it helps with stiffness and pain. Cedarwood may also help with eliminating dandruff, calming down active dogs, and dogs who have severe separation issues.
This oil is one of the less potent oils and is considered to be a great oil to calm and ease your dog’s anxiety. It’s also been used to help some cases of cancer as well as reducing tumors and strengthening the immune system.
Next, citronella has been used for years as an insect repellant. Instead of using store bought citronella that could be filled with chemicals, use the oil instead. It’s better for not only your health but your pet’s health. Citronella oil is considered to be 100% non-toxic and even when you use a small amount, it will still repel bugs without an overwhelming aroma.
Last but not least, we have cardamom oil. This is known for its digestive and respiratory benefits. It so gentle that it can be used on kids. It helps to maintain optimal gastrointestinal balance, ease digestion, and calm upset stomachs. Cardamom is also great at treating anxiety and aggression. Diffusing it can also help to create a calming effect for your pet.