Aromatherapy for dogs wasn’t in the mainstream until recently, after experts tried it on dogs and found that it has a number of health benefits. Over the last few years, the number of dog owners who consider aromatherapy as an alternative treatment has grown. The common belief is that if aromatherapy is beneficial to humans, then it would make sense for it to be good for animals, too.
In humans, the use of essential oils is known to reduce anxiety and inflammation. It also helps calm the nerves and lessen the harmful effects of stress. Here, you will find out what the benefits of using aromatherapy for pets are. Specifically, you will learn about how safe essential oils are for dogs, how to properly use essential oils, and what essential oils are beneficial for dogs.
What is Aromatherapy for Dogs?
In the dog world, aromatherapy is when essentials oils are used therapeutically to treat behavioral and physical problems. You might already have seen grooming services offering the use of essentials oils, but aromatherapy is more than that. The practice of aromatherapy involves the careful combination of several oils for a certain healing purpose to help improve a dog’s overall health and well-being.
It is important to use 100% pure essential oils for aromatherapy treatment for dogs. This is emphasized by dog experts. Using cheap essential oils may lessen their therapeutic effects. It may even cause more harm than good for dogs.
How Aromatherapy Works for Dogs
Aromatherapy targets the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for regulating emotions and mood. This is why aromatherapy is often used by people to address feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, stress, and many more.
Using essential oils can be done in two ways, inhaling through the nose, or absorbing through topical application. There are occasional instances where essential oils are taken orally, but it’s not too common to use essential oils this way.
The following are some of the effects of essential oils, depending on which combination is used.
- Repelling insects
Dogs with anxious personalities usually go through a lot of stress, especially when they have to engage in activities that require going outdoors, meeting a lot of people, and hearing loud sounds (e.g. fireworks, loud music, etc.). Aromatherapy promotes a feeling of calm and helps them relax after a long, stressful day.
In addition to helping calm anxious dogs, aromatherapy has also been known to help with the following:
- Aggressive behavior
- Bad breath
- Flying insects (e.g. flies and mosquitos)
- Joint problems (e.g. arthritis, growing pains)
- Minor skin irritations (e.g. allergies, burns, or rashes)
- Parasites (e.g. ticks and fleas)
Aromatherapy can also help with preventive health maintenance, particularly with keeping a dog’s liver, immune system, or digestive tract healthy. Since dogs have a stronger olfactory sense than humans, inhaling essential oils quickly transports the effects to their bloodstream. This makes aromatherapy fast-acting for dogs, and is the reason why it can help with the treatment of certain conditions.
How to Use Essential Oils for Dogs
Generally, essential oils should be massaged directly on a dog’s coat. Depending on the dog’s condition, you might need to concentrate on certain parts of the body. If the condition has to do with parasites, you might want to go all over to spread the oils evenly. If the condition involves joint pains, you might want to gently massage the oils onto areas where the joints are.
To get the maximum benefits, it’s better to apply these oils on areas with less hair. These areas are the belly, inner thighs and legs, or under the neck.
There are tons of dog products nowadays that are infused with aromatherapy oils. There are already a lot of shampoos and conditioners infused with lavender, orange, and other essential oils.
Another way to use essential oils for dogs is to allow them to inhale the oils. For this, the use of a diffuser is necessary. Simply heat the oil blend in the diffuser and it’ll get released into the air into tiny particles over a period of time. The diffuser acts like an air-freshener and pet owners can enjoy the benefits of inhaling the scent of essential oils as well.
Some essential oils can be taken orally, but this is only advisable when instructed by the vet. Because pure essential oils are highly concentrated, taking them orally without observing the proper dosage might be dangerous and even toxic.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?
Because of the growing popularity of aromatherapy for dogs, there are now specially formulated aromatherapy blends for dogs. These are crafted specifically for use with dogs and therefore, are guaranteed to give the best results.
Although there are ready-made blends available, dog owners are free to mix their own blends if they wish. The usual blend is composed of around three to five different types of oils, depending on the treatment needed. Again, using 100% pure essential oils is important to get the right results.
The amount of essential oils needed to treat a specific condition also depends on the size of the dog. Big breeds such as German Shepherds or Great Danes might need 6 drops of oil massaged throughout their body. Smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas or Shih Tzus, on the other hand, might only need one. Again, it is important not to go over the recommended dose when using essential oils for your dogs.
If dogs are sick, it’s recommended to use less oil than usual. When in doubt, use a diffuser instead so the oils don’t have to go directly on the dog’s body.
Essential oils should also not be applied near the dog’s eyes, ears, or nose. The scents are a too strong and might only cause irritation when placed near sensitive areas. Another area to avoid is the dog’s genital area, especially when rubbing oil on the belly.
What Essential Oils Should I Use?
Here is a list of the recommended essential oils used in aromatherapy for dogs:
- Elemi – antiseptic, anti-infectious, and also works as a sedative.
- Clove, Oregano, and Mountain Savory – for immune support and allergy treatment and prevention.
- Lavender – great as an anti-fungal, analgesic, anti-histamine, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory.
- Myrrh – antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infection, and also an astringent.
- Peppermint – antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic.
- Roman Chamomile – anti-infection and anti-inflammatory.
Precautions to Observe When Using Essential Oils for Dogs
While aromatherapy for dogs is beneficial to their overall health and well-being, it’s still important to observe some safety precautions to avoid any mishaps from happening.
- Again, always use 100% pure essential oils for maximum benefits.
- Remember to dilute essential oils before using them. The recommended measurement is 1 oz. of carrier oil to 3-6 drops of essential oils.
- For small dogs, use less. For big dogs, use more.
- Use a small amount of diluted essential oils on puppies, old dogs, and sick dogs.
- Consult a veterinarian before using essential oils on pregnant dogs. Avoid using essential oils such as rosemary, tea tree, and peppermint.
- Avoid using essential oils on dogs who suffer from seizures.
- Avoid using essential oils too close to sensitive areas (e.g. eyes, nose, ears, genitals)
The use of essential oils can be beneficial to your dog’s health. When used properly, these oils lessen anxiety and promote overall well-being over the long term. However, aromatherapy is not a magical solution to all ailments. It’s still important to regularly visit the veterinarian to better assess the dog’s health. The use of aromatherapy for dogs serves only to support and complement the health-related care and treatment given to dogs.