Essential oils for dogs can be an amazing thing. Our canine companions, whether working dogs or love sponges, respond wonderfully to the essential oils we humans use for our own health and benefit. In fact, many of the products we use in our homes and on ourselves were first tested on dogs. Fortunately, that practice is diminishing. And although those dogs generally paid a very dear price for all that product testing, their contributions to the knowledge base of pharmaceuticals, health care products, and cosmetics are undeniable. Now you can give back to them by considering the following essential oils for dogs.
These remarkable creatures that devote themselves so completely to us also manifest many of the same ailments as we do. This “transference” is an important phenomenon, for dogs feel and sense our maladies (and moods) quite clearly; they will often try to alleviate that distress by sending healing to their loved one, sometimes to the point of depleting their own reserves. They may even take on similar ailments, literally manifesting the same symptoms. Consequently, we owners should take care of our mental states during traumatic periods to support and nurture our dogs’ wellbeing. Certainly, the dog will intuit a great deal, but if we take responsibility for our health and care, with mindfulness about the level of stress in the household, that will go a long way toward the dog’s sense of well-being.
The same applies during periods of stress or turmoil. Divorce, death, or a move can send your canine friend into depression, especially if no explanations are forthcoming. Dogs have lived around us humans for so long that we would be surprised at what they understand about us. Even if they don’t fully comprehend our conversations (and they understand more than we credit), they can and do learn from our facial expressions, tone of voice, and actions. So a conversation with the dog about what’s upsetting the household can do wonders—and also help us owners to talk out our issues to a trusted ally and devoted companion.
Just as with us humans, if a dog’s immune system is strong, it can fight off most illnesses and health issues. That’s why regular veterinary care, a nutritious diet, plentiful clean water, and regular exercise are so important. Therapeutic-grade essential oils can help support and nurture the dog’s health to retain that balance; they can also be useful for ailments or injuries that occur during a dog’s life.
Caring for your dog
Immune Strength is an excellent, all-around oil for maintaining your dog’s health; it can also help your dog recover from an illness, injury, trauma, or surgery. Immune Strength is a great oil to use in your ultrasonic diffuser. That dispersion helps everyone in your household and it’s dispensed lightly. In fact, a diffuser can be invaluable. A few drops of a judiciously selected oil can help cleanse the air, calm a tense environment, encourage impaired lungs, and nurture the overall health of the inhabitants.
Depending on the size of the dog, 2 or 3 drops every few days can be rubbed onto the coat or behind the pads of the feet. And, yes, it can even be given internally, especially if you are trying to rebuild your dog’s strength. In the latter case, try placing one drop on a treat. See how your dog reacts and use that as your guide, as you never want to force intake of an essential oil. It’s hard enough dispensing medications that the veterinarian prescribes; if your dog equates the essential oil with a dreaded veterinary protocol, you’ve already lost!
If the dog is ill, weak, or elderly, perhaps you will want to rub a couple of drops onto its coat daily and also give a drop or more on treats twice a day.
Also, before you “anoint” your dog, put the drop or two in the palm of your hand and let the dog sniff it. That is a sure way of getting the oil into its system past the blood/brain barrier, as well as introducing it to your pet. Take care, though, not to overload its nostrils, since dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. If your dog immediately begins rubbing its face on the carpet or some nearby object, you got a clear, loud message—yuck!
Another or additional approach might be to rub the oil onto your own body, let the dog sniff you, then pet and stroke your canine with the remaining oil from your palms. That’s a great way to introduce the oil while making it a pleasurable (and beneficial) experience for you both. And the effect (and benefit) of the oil remains on your hands even after the oil has dried or dissipated, so don’t overdo.
Another one of the good essential oils for dogs is Aligning. As with Immune Strength, this is a blend that aids in strengthening the immune system and supporting overall health. It, too, can be a wonderful addition to your diffuser and can benefit everyone in the household. Copaiba is another wonderful oil to consider and use in the same way. However, always start very tentatively, perhaps diffusing the essential oil in an open room, then observing your dog’s reaction. And remember, you’re adding only 6 to 8 drops to your diffuser, which is then dispersed over an extended period.
Of course, nothing replaces regular veterinary care. However, therapeutic essential oils can supplement those visits and help extend your dog’s quality of life. Just make sure the oils have strong therapeutic value and purity; otherwise, you have no idea what additives or chemicals and perfumes permeate the oil. Also keep in mind that oils in high doses can be dangerous.
Other essential oils for dogs
Here are some other excellent oils for varied uses that your dog might enjoy:
- Arthritis Plus is a great choice for an older dog with arthritic issues. It can also support recovery from sprains, joint injuries, or broken bones.
- Attention Assist can help when training a dog or a puppy.
- Tranquility or Lavender may calm a hyper dog during thunderstorms or fireworks events.
- Helichrysum Italicum can be dripped or daubed onto an open wound (it does not sting); follow up with Frankincense to accelerate healing and reduce the chances of infection (those two, in sequence, will also relieve pain).
- Lemongrass is effective on torn ligaments; it has also been used in cases of cancer.
As your dog’s guardian, you must exercise good judgment about your level of comfort and understanding in using essential oils on or around it. And please don’t overdo; select one and see how your dog responds. If what you tried doesn’t seem to help, consider one of the others. And, of course, maintain regular veterinary care and seek medical advice for health and behavioral issues.
This article was written by Nancy Sheheen, certified practitioner in Healing Touch for Animals.