How Safe Are Essential Oils For Dogs?

How Safe Are Essential Oils For Dogs?

 
Essential oils offers you a simple, respectful way to keep your dog happy and healthy ...

... But they can be deadly if used incorrectly.
 
Aromatherapy offers a number of health benefits for both us and our dogs. The challenge can be learning which oils you can safely share with your dog and which you should keep far far away. 

Essential oils for dogs can ...
  • Boost your dog’s immune system
  • Soothe itchy skin
  • Ease separation anxiety
  • Soothe digestive upset
  • Increase the level of trust and understanding between you and your dog

But these same powerful oils can cause serious side effects if you're not safe. So let's review how you to use them to support your dog.

 

How To Safely Use Essential Oils For Dogs

 
In the wild, animals keep themselves healthy by eating plants and minerals that they need. Yes, even carnivores eat herbs and grasses – you’ve probably seen it in your own backyard. When your dog eats grass, or drinks from a dirty puddle, he is expressing that instinct.
 
Scientifically this is known as zoopharmacognosy.
 
When using essential oils, we use this natural sense. We allow dogs to select which essential oils and herbal oils they need.
 
In our home, we limit our dogs’ choices, controlling what they eat, who they play with, and how they spend their days. This causes stress.
 
But when we offer essential oils we reduce this stress ... by respecting their choices and listening to their preferences. Any time we reduce stress, we increase health.
 

Zoopharmacognosy: The Basic Rules

 
First, decide which oils might help your dog.
 
Make a shortlist of about five oils and put the closed bottles on the floor, well-spaced out. Encourage your dog to smell the bottles. Watch carefully and take note of which ones your dog sniffs more intently, or tries to lick. Once he has found the oil he needs, he’ll stop sniffing. He might also try to pick up the bottle, so be prepared to stop him from running off with it.
 
The ability to pick exactly what they need is so acute. I've watched dogs go through my collection of 60 essential oils ... sniffing the closed bottles, till they find what they want. Every animal is clear about which essential oil he needs, and will guide his own healing if given the chance.
 

The Major Responses

 
There are three major ways in which dogs choose to interact with aromatic extracts:
 
  1. Smelling
  2. Licking
  3. Localized topical application
 
Inhalation is the most powerful. This is because the essential oils go straight into the brain via the olfactory system ... altering brain chemistry. Dogs often go into a trance, eyes flickering, or fall into a deep sleep. I have seen emotional problems clear up completely after one session like this.
 
Dogs are more likely to want the oils orally if they have a physical problem. If your dog has deeper emotions or more emotional trauma he may prefer inhalation.  
 
Often dogs will indicate by pointing at their body with their heads, stamping a foot, or moving into you. This tells you that they want the oil topically on a particular spot, many times an acupuncture point. In this case, rub a little diluted oil into the area indicated.
 

Understanding Your Dog’s Responses

 
When you offer essential oils to your dog, you must watch carefully. You'll need to interpret his responses and follow his direction on how he wants to interact with the oils. This develops your listening and observational skills. You'll also find it makes you more attentive to your dog in all areas of his life. And your dog loves that!
 
To start, hold the open bottle in your hand and let your dog come towards it. He may look a little surprised or perplexed at first, sometimes even wary.
 
If your dog likes the oil, he will keep his head turned towards you or come closer.
If he does not like the oil, he will turn away, put his head down, or otherwise avoid the smell. Licking the lips quickly is another indication of interest in the oil.
A big, yawning lick can indicate he's feeling stressed and you need to move the oil further away.
 
Allow your dog to settle at a comfortable distance from the bottle; he may move away from it at first. As long as he stays in the room with you, with his nose in your direction, it is a positive response. Allow your dog to leave the area if he chooses.
 
One of the keys to success is patience.
 
Don’t rush to decide if your dog likes the oil or not; just wait quietly and give your dog time to decide what he wants to do.
 
Take the character of each individual into account. If your dog is shy he will need more time. If your dog is a greedy, enthusiastic type he'll need to settle down and engage fully.
 

Dilute The Oil

 
Once your dog has chosen the oil(s), dilute each oil separately. Use 1 to 3 drops in 1 teaspoon of cold-pressed oil, such as olive oil. Offer each diluted oil separately and follow your dog’s responses.
 
Offer the oils once or twice a day until your dog loses interest. He'll have a different response to each oil he has chosen and the responses will change daily.
 
If his response is very keen, offer the oils twice a day. For a moderate interest offer once a day. Your dog will lose interest in the oils within about three days to a week. At this point, you should see a marked change in the problem.

Rita Hogan, Canine Herbalist has a great article on diluting your dog's oils that you can read to learn more.

 

Cautions With Essential Oils For Dogs

 
Use only good quality essential oils. The best usually come from small companies who cater to professional aromatherapists.
 
Always dilute essential oils. Overuse of essential oils can cause liver failure and commonly causes skin irritation. Undiluted essential oils assault the dog’s sensitive sense of smell.
 
A very small amount of essential oil is highly effective ... so there is no need to take the extra risks involved with using undiluted oils.
 
Never be tempted to add essential oils to your dog’s food. The same goes for rubbing them on him if he doesn’t want you to, or otherwise forcing him to take them. This can cause adverse reactions.


Written By: Nayana Morag

Nayana Morag became interested in aromatherapy for animals in 1996. After seeing how the oils helped her to bond with traumatized horses, she earned her certificate in animal aromatherapy in 1999. She has since earned a post-graduate certificate.
Visit Nayana at www.essentialanimals.com

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