Essential oils for dogs are a popular topic. Everyone’s quick to recommend them for just about any ailment .. from arthritis to separation anxiety.
Aromatherapy benefits humans both physically and psychologically. But the essential oil blends and aromatherapy products we use ourselves … might not produce the same reaction in our pets.
In fact, some oils can be quite dangerous.
We’ve heard some horror stories about essential oils. One woman caused liver failure in her dog by diffusing tea tree oil daily,
So … do you know which essential oils are safe for your dog and which aren’t?
Veterinarian Dr Richard Palmquist says this about essential oils and your dog:
“Essential oils contain a host of biologically active and powerful compounds. Used correctly, they are an indispensable part of integrative medical care. However, they can cause undesirable and even dangerous side effects. This is why people using oils medically should seek specialized training.”
So don’t think that because essential oils are “natural” they’re naturally safe. Before you use them on your dog, you need to know which oils you can use on your dog … and how.
Why do plants contain essential oils? One reason is that they can’t move to escape threats. So instead, they produce compounds to repel predators and pathogens.
The body can absorb essential oils into the bloodstream through various methods:
- Ingestion (eating or licking)
- Through the skin
Once the oils get into the bloodstream, they can travel to various tissues.
Different chemicals in the oils have a biological affinity for certain tissues. So knowing your oil’s components is the first step in choosing the right oil for your dog.
Essential oils are very powerful, especially for animals. Even tiny amounts can have powerful biological effects on every system of the body.
For example, lavender oil can be calming for the brain. You can use small amounts of lavender oil when traveling to calm your dog or make him sleepy.
Some Safe Oils To Consider
Before you treat your dog with essential oils at home, it’s a good idea to talk to your holistic veterinarian. It’s especially important to get a diagnosis if your dog has severe or persistent symptoms..
Also, make sure your vet knows what other natural products you’re using for your dog. This will help you avoid any interactions with other supplements.
Here are some oils that are safe for short-term or first-aid use:
- Lavender: Universal oil, can use pure or diluted. Useful in conditioning patients to a safe space. May help allergies, burns, ulcers, insomnia, car ride anxiety and car sickness, to name a few.
- Cardamom: Diuretic, anti-bacterial, normalizes appetite, colic, coughs, heartburn, and nausea.
- Fennel: assists the adrenal cortex, helps break up toxins and fluid in tissue. Balances pituitary, thyroid and pineal glands.
- Helichrysum: Anti-bacterial, reduces bleeding in accidents, skin regenerator, helps repair nerves. Also useful in cardiac disease.
- Frankincense: Has helped some cases of cancer. Works on the immune system. Has reduced tumors, and external ulcers. Increases blood supply to the brain … although it can worsen hypertension so use caution.
- Spearmint: Helps to reduce weight. Good for colic, diarrhea, nausea. It helps balance metabolism, stimulates the gallbladder.
Caution When Using Essential Oils For Dogs
Remember again … essential oils can help with physical and mental issues for your dog. But they’re very powerful.
Use safe handling principles … or consult an aromatherapy expert so that you don’t risk making your dog sick.
Because essential oils are so popular, there are some bad manufacturers. So oils can contain contaminants or adulterants. This means they can cause a more serious adverse reaction.
So always use high quality oils from reputable companies. It’s always best to verify the quality of oils before using them.
Keep in mind that your dog has a sense of smell hundreds of times more sensitive than yours. So always use diluted oils … and always provide him with an escape route. He’ll let you know if he doesn’t approve.
Here’s a little teaser from our new Canine Essential Oils course. Isla talks about the ways in which your dog will let you know he doesn’t approve.
So if your dog shows you he doesn’t like an oil, don’t force it on him.
When using essential oils for dogs topically, follow canine herbalist Rita Hogan’s recommendation:
Use a 0.5 percent to a one percent dilution. This means 3 to 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of a carrier oil. She recommends using almond, coconut or apricot kernel oil.
Read Rita’s cautions about internal use of essential oils for dogs here.
Remember Your Dog Is A Dog
Dogs metabolize and react differently to essential oils then we do. So you need to know which oils are safe to use for your dog.
Always be cautious with the so-called “hot” oils like cinnamon, oregano, clove, wintergreen, thyme and birch, with dogs as well as cats.
Use special care around your dog’s eyes. And always wash your hands after handling oils to prevent accidentally getting them into your own eyes too![Related: 5 Steps To Make Essential Oils Safe For Dogs]
When Less Is More
Dr Palmquist finds that pet owners can run into trouble with good intentions …
“One problem we see in our clinic involves people overusing oils. A person discovers essential oils and begins to diffuse the oils into their homes leading to an unintentional overdose for their pets. Some essential oils can cause liver and kidney toxicity in sensitive species.
“To reduce the chances of sensitivity and organ toxicity, we generally use an oil for no more than two weeks and then provide a rest period.
“Under certain circumstances — like in the treatment of cancer — we will use oils for longer periods, but this is something best left to those trained in the use of oils.”
You can read Dr. Palmquist’s entire article here