Dogs and essential oils: Get to know the basics

by Sojos | February 26, 2013

If you hear “essential oils” and think they’re only for pampering beauty products, think again. These powerful natural remedies can be and are used for much, much more. For dogs, essential oils can provide helpful solutions for both physical and behavioral problems, but only when used safely and wisely. That’s why it’s important to learn a bit more about essential oils before incorporating them into your pet care regimen.

There are almost countless uses for essential oils, as they can be used alone or in combinations. Advocates note that physical concerns, ranging from viruses and bacteria to ear infections and skin rashes can all be effectively treated with the right selection of oils. Behavioral concerns, like stress, nervousness, shyness, hyperactivity or lethargy – and a whole host of others – can also be addressed with essential oils.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is using 100 percent pure or therapeutic grade oils. Using lesser quality or blended oils could expose your dog to ingredients harmful to him.

Because essential oils are so highly concentrated, it’s often recommended that they be diluted or used with carrier oils (something neutral like almond oil or sunflower oil). This is particularly important when using essential oils for dogs, because their systems are so sensitive. Also keep in mind that oils should be kept away from dogs’ noses, mouths and eyes. 

There are a few ways in which essential oils can be used for pets: topically, diffused/inhaled or orally. Oral use of essential oils is something that should only be done with the guidance and oversight of a holistic vet, due to the potency of the oils. While topical applications and using a diffuser are not as extreme as ingestion, you should still consult with your holistic vet before using the oils. They will help you establish which oils are right for your pet, as well as recommending dosages and how to administer them.

If you’re eager to start building a collection of essential oils that you and your dog can both use, consider these selections:

* Lavender: Anti-bacterial, calming

* Roman chamomile: Soothing, can relieve muscle pain

* Peppermint: Insect-repelling, helpful in treating motion sickness

* Geranium: Anti-fungal, tick repellent

Makers like Simpler’s Botanicals, Mountain Rose Herbs and Nature’s Gift provide good quality oils.

Also keep in mind that there are a number of oils considered unsafe for dogs: anise, birch, bitter almond, camphor, cassia, clove, garlic, horseradish, hyssop, juniper, mustard, oregano, pennyroyal, thyme, rue, sassafras, savory, tansy, wintergreen, wormwood and yarrow are among them.

That said, with careful and educated use, essential oils can provide you with a holistic way to treat your pet’s physical and behavioral problems.