Summer can be a scary time for dogs. The official holiday fireworks may be over for the year but in some cities the neighborhood firecrackers continue all summer long.
I know from experience with my own fearful dog that there are plenty of other things to cause dogs to be anxious over the warmer months. Storms, block parties or street fairs, more people out and about, kids in the park shrieking and behaving unpredictably or wanting to pet your shy canine, strangers coming to the house for a barbecue … it’s not surprising some dogs get a little stressed!
We’re going to give you some formulas that can help with your dog’s anxiety. But first, let’s talk safety!
Properly used, essential oils can help calm and build confidence in your anxious dog. But are they safe?
Because they’re derived from plants, many people assume they are … but dogs are very sensitive and these powerful, highly concentrated oils can be overpowering or even harmful if used at full strength, or internally.
Make Sure It’s The Good Stuff
Always use the very best quality essential oils you can find; higher quality oils usually come from smaller companies who will be willing to answer your questions about the product. Look for products in tamper-proof amber or cobalt glass bottles.
“You Get What You Pay For”
With essential oils, you get what you pay for, so don’t buy cheaper brands and if you see an oil that’s unusually cheap compared to the same oil from other brands, don’t buy it. There is a reason it’s much cheaper and it’s probably because the oil has been adulterated!
Registered Aromatherapist and Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner Kelly Holland Azzaro runs a Holistic Healing Center in the mountains of North Carolina. At the 2014 Natural Canine Health Symposium (NCHS), she offered the following cautions …
For more information on essential oil safety, visit holisticanimalassociation.com.
Want To Know How To Use Essential Oils?
So, if you shouldn’t use essential oils neat or internally, what are you supposed to do?
Carrier Oils or Base Oils
First of all, use a carrier or base oil to dilute your oils. Good examples of carrier oils are sweet almond oil, sesame, jojoba, rose hip, avocado or apricot kernel oils. Certified Master Aromatherapist Kristen Leigh Bell, in her book Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals, recommends adding 10 drops of essential oils to ½ oz of carrier oil.
Essential oils can be applied in various ways. Always be aware that some dogs may not like certain oils, and if you find your dog turning away or avoiding you when you try to apply the oil, be very cautious in using it. It’s a good idea to let your dog sniff the oil before applying it, and to start with very tiny amounts of oil. If your dog pants, whines or rubs her face on the carpet, the oil you’re using probably isn’t a good fit for your dog.
In general, Kristen Leigh Bell (Certified Master Aromatherapist) advises discouraging your dog from ingesting the oil, but don’t be concerned if your dog licks some oil from his fur or paws.
Here are some easy ways Kelly Azzaro suggests to apply oils to your dog …
Which oils to use?
So, now that we know how to use essential oils safely, which ones should we consider using for our anxious dogs?
We promised you recipes, and now, here they come … thanks to Kelly Holland Azzaro.
1. For General Fear Or Anxiety
For general fear, try this recipe containing neroli, petigrain and lavender, in a carrier oil for topical use:
Carrier Base For Topical Blends:
- Two ounces jojoba (Simmonsdia chinensis)
- OR Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) gel
- OR Lavender Hydrosol (Lavandula angustifolia) for a spray mist
Suggested Essential Oils:
- 8 to 10 drops of Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
- 6 to 8 drops of Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
- 4 to 6 Drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
2. Sound Sensitivity
For a dog who’s hypersensitive to sound, lavender, melissa or neroli oils are good ones to try.
Key Issues: Anxious, Whimpering, Restless
Essential Oils To Consider:
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Melissa (Melissa Officinalis)
- Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
- Inhaling (during)
- Diffusion (before/during/after)
- Topical message (before/after)
3. Separation Anxiety
If your dog experiences separation anxiety when left alone at home, try the following blend. Here is a situation where a diffuser might work well to calm your dog while you’re out!
- 8 to 10 drops of Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis)
- 4 to 6 drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 4 to 6 drops of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)