We are about to start on building a second dwelling on our property and so with all these tradesmen coming onto our property my four legged child is barking like crazy which is driving everyone up the wall as we are all trying to work or study from home. ‘Oh, we have to do something about this dog ‘ I said and one my kids, of course the sassy teenager replied ‘put some lavender on him, mom. ‘ He knows it is my favorite oil and they hear me often telling them to put some Lavender on whatever little scrape they have or before bedtime. Well, what my child thought is very funny actually has a lot of truth to it. I realized though that I have never done thorough research into how to use essential oils for dogs and what would be the do’s and the don’ts of using essential oils for dogs.
I have not written about essential oils and dogs yet for a few reasons. As a trained aromatherapist and have no experience as far as essential oil usage on dogs or other pets. Another reason is the limited amount of resources available on the scientific evidence of when essential oils are used on dogs. So I had to do some research into this and in my research I found some interesting studies actually.
One study was done with 55 dogs in a rescue shelter to monitor their behavior when they were exposed to essential oils being diffused. There were 5 types :
- 1) The control
- 2) Lavender essential oil
- 3) Chamomile essential oil
- 4) Peppermint essential oil
- 5) Rosemary essential oil
The dogs were exposed to the different oils for 4 hours a day for 5 days and had an intervening period for 2 days. Behavior were monitored on day 1, 3 and 5.
The diffusion of Lavender and Chamomile showed the dogs were calmer and resting and less vocal whereas with the diffusion of Peppermint and Rosemary the dogs appeared a lot more alert and standing and moving and a lot more vocal in the shelter.
There was also another clinical trial was done with 32 dogs that got super excited when traveling in their owner’s cars.
The dogs were monitored for 3 consecutive days on the control, that is no odor and 3 consecutive days when Lavender essential oil was diffused. The time that was spent moving, sitting, resting, barking was recorded.
Results were that the dogs was more restful and spent less time moving around and significant less barking with the diffusion of Lavender essential oil.
With the growing interest in Essential oils and MLM essential oil companies trying to cater for all segments of the market many reps advocate for using essential oils for pets. So, let’s have a look at whether they are just trying to sell more oil or is there some truth to it. Let’s have a look at the safe oils first.
Safe essential oils to use on dogs
1.Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
As pointed out in the studies that I mentioned above Lavender is useful for anxiety and nervousness in dogs. It can also be used for allergies, burns, insomnia and ulcers.
Make sure you use good quality organic Lavender oil
DO NOT USE FOR CATS
2. Frankincense – Boswellia carterii
Support the nervous system and digestive tract.
Promote cellular health – Frankincense have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties
Can help if you have a very timid and shy dog to give them a bit more confidence
Make sure you use good quality essential oil. I great tip is to always see if you can see the Latin name on the label. There are different types of Frankincense. The one we are talking about here is Boswellia carterii.
3. Camomile essential oil –Matricaria chamomilla or Chamaemelum nobile
Good for their nervous system – great to use if you have a very anxious dog or a hyperactive or super excited dog
Helps with skin health and allergies
Helps with upset stomach
4. Cedarwood essential oil – Juniperus virginiana
Relaxing oil that might calm your dog especially if they are nervous or restless or very hyper and super excited
Great for skin health
Good choice of oil to use for cramping and pain.
Unsafe essential oils
I have listed some unsafe oils below although some of them are worst than others. It also really depend on the size of your dog and the breed.
Anise Essential Oil
Basil Essential Oil
Birch Essential Oil
Calendula Essential Oil
Cassia Essential Oil
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Citronella Essential Oil
Clove Essential Oil
Cypress Essential Oil
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Garlic Essential Oil
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Juniper Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Lime Essential Oil
Myrtle Essential Oil
Nutmeg Essential Oil
Orange Essential Oil
Oregano Essential Oil
Peppermint Essential Oil
Pennyroyal Essential Oil
Pine Essential Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Spearmint Essential Oil
Spruce Essential Oil
Tansy Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Thuja Essential Oil
Thyme Essential Oil
Wintergreen Essential Oil
Yarrow Essential Oil
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
The toxicity levels of the oils differ but some of them can be very unsafe for dogs.
Avoid these oils around your dog
- Tea tree
Toxic for dogs. Symptoms
- Loss of coordination
- Skin irritation
2. Cinnamon essential oil
Toxic for dogs. Symptoms:
- Low blood sugar
- Liver disease
- Uneven heart rate
3. Citrus oils – Lemon, Lime, Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit
Toxic for dogs. Symptoms:
- Dog might be agitated
Very toxic for dogs, exposure can be fatal. Symptoms
- Diarrhea – sometimes bloody due to liver failure
5. Pine oils
- Skin or stomach irritation
- Vomiting – can be bloody
- Loss of coordination
- Damage to the central nervous system
- Can cause liver and renal interference
6. Sweet birch essential oil
Very toxic to dogs. Can be fatal
- Can cause gastrointestinal ulcers
- Kidney failure
7. Wintergreen essential oil
Toxic to dogs
- Gastrointestinal ulcers
- Can lead to liver and renal failure
- Difficulty breathing
- Unstable walking
How to use these essential oils on dogs
Essential oils should never be ingested by animals.
Most expert in the veterinary field will warn you against using essential oils topically.
When you do need to use them topically it should always be diluted in a carrier oil. Since their bodies are smaller you have to dilute it more than you would for humans. Well actually the same rule apply if you dilute oils for children.
I would recommend not more than 6 drops of essential oil to a 30 ml of carrier oil such as coconut, almond oil or castor oil.
Both coconut as well as castor oil can be used topically alone with great results on dogs.
Diffuse essential oils
The amount of exposure matter as well as the concentration. The best way is to diffuse essential oil but the amount of exposure matter as well as the concentration.
When you have a very anxious dog that barks a lot while you are at work and the neighbors are complaining than you can add a couple of drops, so two drops of oil to your diffuser and turn it on before you leave the house. BUT they have to be able to leave the room.
LESS IS MORE
Dogs have a lot more olfactory receptors than humans therefor you have to observe your pet when you use essential oils.when you notice your dog leaving the room and going to another room that might be your essential oils that you are diffusing that is bothering your dog.
You can have a look at different kind of diffusers here
DO’s of using essential oils
- Only use quality essential oils such as organic essential oils
- Use diluted oils only on dogs and only use it topically
- Have windows open when diffusing essential oils so a ventilated area
- Leave the door open so that your dog has the ability to leave the room.
- Do not use essential oils around the dogs eyes, ears, nose
- NEVER add essential oils to the dog’s drinking water
- Avoid using essential oils with pregnant of nursing dogs or with puppies.
- If your dog is prone to seizures or epileptic don’t use essential oils at all on or around them
- Remember not to use essential oils that are unsafe for cleaning where your pet can lick the floor .
What about other pets?
Cats don’t have the ability to metabolize any scent molecules so it gets stored in their body. This can cause toxic build up and can be fatal for cats.
Cats are even more sensitive to essential oils and using essential oils with birds around is a no-no.
This can happen very easily that you absent-minded put your diffuser on the fish tank or close to the fish tank. Move the diffuser to a safe space away from the aquarium rather.
Please use essential oil with care around your pets, remember they might be the smallest member of your family and they don’t have the ability to talk and tell you what is going on for them.
What about when you use essential oils topically on yourself?
It actually took me a while to connect the dots that when I am using certain blends of oil on myself then my dog Banjo, who is a feisty little Jack Russell, would jump off the bed or the couch rather than cuddle up with be.
Essential oils can make them feel really sick and they don’t have a voice to tell us when the smell is bothering them or making them feel unwell.
So take care of the oils that are on the list and choose different oils rather to use. Perhaps use certain blends just outside the house. Being mindful of the little furry children in your house is really important because we care so much about them and they rely on us for everything from fresh water, food, safety, exercise. Therefor make good choices to look after yourself so that you can look after those you love.