As society as a whole continues to say no to drugs and explore holistic healing opportunities, why not extend the benefits to our beloved pups? In lieu of an anti-anxiety drug, what if a little lavender could go a long way?
Before you begin, it's important to ask yourself what essential oils are safe for dogs. Their sense of smell is astronomically stronger than ours, so scents (even natural ones) can have an adverse effect on them.
Below, we've listed some of the essential oils that consistently make the cut as safe oils for our dogs. We've also outlined the major offenders, and included a simple summary of how to administer essential oils. Together, let's put on our white lab coats and explore new ways to provide tender, loving care to our best friends.
What Essential Oils Are Safe for Dogs?
Nature always knows best. In the same way we look for holistic aids, our beloved companions can also boost their immunity and soothe aches and pains in a natural way. Here are some wonderful remedies for common ailments our dogs can face:
Few things in life beat a prime seat on the sofa, a soft blanket, and a cup of chamomile tea. Our beloved sidekicks can experience similar calming effects from chamomile, too.
Let's say you're house-sitting your bestie's uptight chihuahua and it's causing some stress for your low-key buddy. You might consider offering him or her a little chamomile oil. It can ease their stress and also settle an upset tummy.
Also, if you've adopted a generally shy or fearful pup, a little chamomile oil can help them learn to socialize better down at the local dog park.
Frankincense and myrrh date back so far in history, it's no wonder they make the list of safe essential oils for our dogs. Let's start with frankincense; this oil takes aim at the health and immunity of their cells.
If they seem to be acting a little differently in, say, doggie daycare, you might want to consider beefing up their immunity with a little frankincense. It can also support their digestive tracts if a bit of stress is causing an upset stomach.
You'll keep noticing the similarities between human and pet benefits to most of these essential oils. Just like some hot ginger tea can clear out our respiratory tracts or soothe our stomachs, the same can be said for dogs.
It can help them if they're experiencing certain digestive problems; it can also help them breathe a little easier. Interestingly, ginger may also help them with some of their joint pain. You'll often find that our go-to essential oils serve more than one main purpose, which is quite the natural blessing.
Speaking of relaxation and collectedness, lavender is another great alternative for a stressed-out pup. It can be used to tame the onslaught of anxiety and car sickness.
One of the nicest ways to apply this essential oil is by applying it to your furbaby's ear fur. A nice, gentle massage during application can set things in motion nicely.
Now for myrrh. This oil is noted to help pups who are dealing with skin irritations. Myrrh has an antiseptic quality (as well as astringent properties), making it a great cleanser. It's possible that, when applied regularly, it can help clear up patches of irritated skin.
Dogs can be plagued with seasonal allergies, just like us. If you notice your little one sneezing more often, it may be time to consider what kind of an impact this year's allergy season is having on them. (Or, sometimes it's a new scent introduced to the home.)
Still, peppermint can help support their respiratory systems and return clearer breathing to their horizons. Peppermint can also be used to ease aches and pains in their joints, making it another one of those lovely, dual-purpose oils.
Peppermint should only be used in a diffuser and in low amounts. It can be toxic if ingested.
How to Administer Essential Oils
There are two common ways to administer essential oils. You can apply them topically or administer them through a diffuser.
Eíther way, try to keep in mind a few basics. Just because something says it's "natural," doesn't mean it's healthy. There are plenty of poisons out there in nature. You also want to do your research on the company before you invest in their oils. Make sure they have excellent reviews and produce top-quality, organic oils.
Finally, don't forget what we already know about dogs' sniffers. They're way more powerful than ours. While we have about six million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs can have up to 300 million! We can't even do the math on how much of an impact that has on their sense of smell. So, be sure to go light and easy, even if they're veteran lavender lovers.
Here's the most important point: never apply an undiluted essential oil straight to your pet's skin. Even if they're on the list of essential oils safe for dogs, an undiluted oil can make them sick. This is where carrier oils come in. They're safe, lightly-scented oils that help deliver the oil safely to your dog's skin.
Great carriers include coconut oil, avocado oil, aloe vera, sunflower oil, and sweet almond oil. To dilute your essential oil, aim for one drop of essential oil for every tablespoon and a half of carrier oil. This creates a 0.25% dilution, keeping things in a safe range.
Conduct a patch test before you begin a regimen. Apply a dime-sized amount and keep an eye on the area for about 15 minutes. If your pup appears to be unphased by it, then proceed (with a careful eye) in your administration.
Diffusers work for pets in the same way they work for us. Simply add one to two drops of essential oil to a water-based diffuser. When we use them in our homes, we tend to just drop in the oil and go about our business. However, when using them as a pet aid, only run the diffuser for ten minutes. Then, let the air clear for about 30 minutes.
Since you never want your dog to actually swallow any of these essential oils, make sure you place the diffuser in a place where it can't be knocked over and lapped up. Also, if their bed is on the east wall of the living room, then set up the diffuser on the west wall.
Mmm smells good!
What Essential Oils Are Unsafe for Dogs?
While there's a healthy list of essential oils that can benefit our beloved pups in a multitude of ways, unfortunately, there's also a long list of oils that are absolute toxins when they enter their systems. Here are the primary offenders:
Unfortunately, this rules out a lot of our favorite clean-feeling household scents. Citrus oils bring on a similar wave of symptoms. Your dog may vomit, experience lethargy, or even go through the horrors of a seizure.
Cinnamon and pine: the two go hand in hand in the cooler months of the year, but not for our pups. Pine tends to be both a skin and stomach irritant.
You know what that means; you may be forced to clean up vomit or diarrhea in the corner. But, the horrors of pine go even further, with cases of liver damage and central nervous system damage.
It's interesting; tea tree oil can clear up so many symptoms for humans. As for dogs, you don't want to expose them to the detriments of this oil.
Symptoms can range from minor side effects like skin irritation or vomiting, to major complications like depression or paralysis of the rear legs.
Ylang ylang has a beautiful scent. In fact, it's an additive to many of our favorite perfumes. However, this oil does nothing more than make our fine friends loopy.
It can make breathing difficult for them, create a general sense of weakness, and, again, force them to vomit the toxin out of their system.
How Do You Know If They've Been Poisoned?
Since this list isn't exhaustive, how will you know if you've exposed your pup to a harmful toxin? First of all, don't panic if you let the diffuser run on a toxic oil once, for a short amount of time. Chances are, your sidekick will be just fine. At worst, they may vomit to clear their system of any harm.
If, however, you've been applying a harmful oil topically to them for extended periods of time or constantly running a hazardous oil through the diffuser, you may be poisoning them. Here are some of the symptoms of essential oil poisoning:
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle tremors
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to immediately rush your dog off to the emergency veterinary clinic.
Nutrition is Key
Before breaking out the essential oils, try changing your dog's nutrition. The best thing we can do for our dogs is give them the best food to help them flourish.
Much like us, the healthier your dog’s lifestyle, the more likely they’ll be able to fight off any disease or infection. Often the food we feed our dogs is not doing them justice. It’s filled with artificial flavors, low-quality protein sources, and not enough fiber.
Wild Earth is a Vet-developed food that is a high protein, high fiber source of complete nutrition. Our food is full of beta-glucans, a powerful digestive fiber that helps to fight off disease and increase immunity. It also contains superfoods like chickpeas, sweet potato, oats, and blueberries so your dog can thrive!
Safe, Natural Care for Our Dogs
We hope this has helped you understand what essential oils are safe for dogs. When administered safely, it's wonderful to know we're helping our beloved sidekicks in a natural, holistic way.
What Is Actually In Your Dog's Food?
WAIT! BEFORE YOU GO on about your day, ask yourself: Is the dog food you're feeding your best friend really the best food out there? At its core, there’s an unhealthy meat dependency in pet food. Most of the time, meat in your pet food means: Bad ingredients. Bad practices. And bad health. Learn more about clean protein dog food...