Essential Oils for Dogs
– Learn how to use essential oils safely to improve your dog’s health. –
Essential oils are one more natural health care practice that you can use to keep your dog healthy.
Not every oil is safe for your dog and even the gentlest essential oil needs to be used properly or it could cause your dog harm. Let’s take some advice on how to use essential oils to prevent disease and heal injuries in our dogs.
The Basics of Essential Oils
Essential oils, or EO’s for short, are extracts of plants derived by distillation. The end-result oils are super concentrated versions of the plant’s natural oils. This concentration is both beneficial and potentially dangerous when we don’t know how to properly use EO’s.
An example of how peppermint oil is derived may help you understand this concept.
“In order to produce more than a few drops of essential oil, pounds upon pounds of plant matter must be distilled, expressed or extracted. For example, to make one ounce of peppermint essential oil, it takes 16 pounds of peppermint leaves.”
The benefits of the plant’s oils are also concentrated when essential oils are created, making the benefits more accessible.
Essential oils are highly effective for a number of uses: bacterial infections, preventing parasites, pain relief, respiratory infections, stress relief, eye infections, behavior disorders, and allergy relief.
EO’s: Dangerous When Undiluted
It takes a lot of plant matter to condense the oils to what we recognize as essential oils. Here’s another example.
“For example, one drop of chamomile essential oil is equal to approximately 50 cups of chamomile tea. Because of the level of concentration, dilution is essential for applying essential oils to our furry friends. It will also help avoid dermal sensitization, a type of allergy to a specific substance that continues for years after the initial sensitivity has occurred. Dermal sensitization is common when using essential oils neat, and that’s why the extra caution is so important.”
We’re making a point here. The essential oil, as it is in the bottle, is strong enough to cause your dog harm. Dropping essential oils straight from the bottle onto your dog could be potentially painful for him. Some oils are strong enough to cause burns.
Responsible pet owners must use caution when using EO’s topically on their pets.
Dilution is the key to the success and safety of essential oils. The saying “Less is More” is true of essential oils. These special plant oils have been made to promote healing through minuscule doses.
Not only are undiluted essential oils potentially harmful when used topically they should also never be given orally to your dog.
Oral Use of Essential Oils in Dogs
There are dangers to using essential oils orally in dogs, such as when added to the dog’s water bowl.
“Essential oils sit on top of the water and when swallowed, they can easily irritate the lining of the mouth and throat as well as the stomach and intestines. Prolonged ingestion can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and in some cases, kidney and liver damage.
Rita Hogan, a canine herbalist, doesn’t advise using EO’s orally unless they are a necessary part of medical treatment under the supervision of a qualified professional.
“When working with dogs, I don’t advocate the use of essential oils internally unless it’s absolutely necessary because we don’t know how they can affect gut flora. There’s some disagreement about the destruction of beneficial bacteria as well as harmful bacteria when the gut is exposed to essential oils.
Yes, there is a way to use essential oils around your dog! And the benefits are worth it. Here are some rules to using EO’s with your dog that will keep him safe and healthy.
Rules for EO’s
First, Dilute. While some pet care advocates may have variances in their advice, everyone agrees that diluting essential oils before use is a must.
Second, use Intermittently. Dr. Jodie Gruenstern recommends using oils off-and-on, giving the dog’s body periodic breaks from the oil to avoid toxicity from long-term buildup.
Third, Use Hydrosols. Joy Musachio is clinically certified in aromatherapy. Joy recommends that pet owners never use essential oils directly on their pet’s fur and skin, but instead use hydrosols.
“The only exception to the “no skin or fur” rule is to use plain hydrosols (also known as essential waters) instead of essential oils. Hydrosols don’t contain concentrated essential oils. They’re the byproducts of distillation, and they’re safe for dogs (and even babies)..”
Hydrosols may be the perfect way to use essential oils safely around your dog!
“When an essential oil is extracted, the plant material (such as lavender) is exposed to steam. The steam brings out the oils in the plant and together the steam and oil travel to an apparatus that slowly cools them down so they can separate again into oil and water. The essential oil sits on the top of the water so it can be collected. Meanwhile, the leftover water becomes the hydrosol, containing trace amounts (usually less than five percent) of suspended essential oils. Hydrosols also contain plant essences as well as the water-soluble plant matter that essential oils lack.”
Be careful to buy a high-quality hydrosol. Hydrosols can easily develop mold/bacteria if stored improperly. If the hydrosol contains a preservative, it is probably not a high-quality, well-stored product.
Store hydrosols in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening.
How to Dilute Oils for Dogs
Diluting essential oils requires that you have another oil, a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include coconut oil, olive, almond, avocado, and apricot. These oils are very gentle on the skin and protect against burns and irritation.
Dilute essential oils in this way to use topically on your dog’s skin and fur.
We do not recommend giving your dog essential oils internally due to the potential to harm your dog’s vital organs. The exception to this might be giving your dog herbal teas. Properly prepared, herbal teas contain trace amounts of the plant’s essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, that can be beneficial as well as suitably diluted.
Safe Essential Oils for Your Dog
Some safe essential oils for dogs include:
- Roman & German chamomile,
- mountain savory,
- sweet orange,
- Ylang Ylang,
- and fennel.
*Note: This list and the following list are not meant to be complete, there are many more essential oils that should be carefully researched and properly diluted before use on or around dogs.
Now there are some oils that are not safe for dogs and shouldn’t be used with dogs. Essential oils contain thousands of natural chemicals that each have an effect on the dog, and some of these chemicals don’t set well with dogs.
- Sweet birch
- Sweet basil*
- White thyme
*Sweet basil and rosemary shouldn’t be used for dogs with seizures. This caution applies to both the herb and essential oil forms of these plants.
Diffusing essential oils is possibly the most effective use of your oils. It is a wonderful way to easily dilute the oils in the air of a room. Some EO’s smell amazing and can act to reduce stress, calm that excitable puppy or to energize the senior dog!
Oils diffused in the air will be breathed in and caught by the mucous membranes where they can stimulate the immune system to fight infections.
One word of warning with aromatherapy: it can be over-used. Dr. Richard Palmquist, Chief of Integrative Health Services at Centinela Animal Hospital, sees a common problem with aromatherapy.
“One problem we see in our clinic involves people overusing oils. A person discovers essential oils and begins to diffuse the oils into their homes leading to an unintentional overdose for their pets.”
So remember the Second Rule for using EO’s safely around dogs and diffuse your oils intermittently.
In the end…
Essential oils can be wonderful tools for health and happiness for our pets and ourselves if we will learn to use them properly. The good news is, this isn’t hard to do.
With three safety rules and lists of safe oils for dogs, you can now carefully use those essential oils for your dog’s benefit.
For Satisfied Dogs!
Fioravanti, Kayla. “Warnings Doterra and Young Living Won’t Tell You” kaylafioravanti.com. July 30, 2014. Web. Accessed Feb. 5, 2019. https://kaylafioravanti.com/warnings-doterra-young-living-wont-tell-you/
Gruenstern, Dr. Jodie. “Resolve to Replace Toxic Treatments with Essential Oils” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Feb. 5, 2019. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/resolve-to-replace-toxic-treatments-with-essential-oils/
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Morag, Nayana. “Essential Oils For Dogs: Keeping It Safe” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Feb. 5, 2019. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/essential-oils-for-dogs-keeping-it-safe/
Musachio, Joy. “5 Steps To Make Essential Oils Safe For Dogs” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Feb. 5, 2019. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/5-steps-to-make-essential-oils-safe-for-dogs/
SitStay.com. “The 411 on Essential Oils and your Dog” sitstay.com. Oct. 31, 2016. Web. Accessed Feb. 5, 2019. https://sitstay.com/blogs/good-dog-blog/essential-oils-for-dogs