Essential oils for your dog are a simple, safe, and healthy solution to many issues. And they can help your dog live a longer, happier life. Research has shown essential oils have the ability to relieve conditions ranging from itchy skin to digestion problems. From anxiety to depression. And, so much more.
But there’s still some uncertainty here.
Essential oils for dogs (and humans) are a relatively new idea. As with any new idea, we (as humans) must do our own research to come to our own conclusions about how effective it is.
They kind of seem too good to be true, don’t they?
If these ‘solutions’ have the power to do everything they claim, why are we just now finding out about them?
Do they really work? And what can they be used for? We’ll discuss this and more in today’s article.
Is Lemongrass Essential Oil Safe For Dogs?
When it comes to using lemongrass essential oil around dogs, you’ve got to tread carefully. While lemongrass itself is often considered safe for dogs in small, diluted amounts—like in certain dog shampoos or sprays—essential oils are a whole different ballgame because they’re highly concentrated. Some experts suggest that lemongrass essential oil could be toxic to dogs if ingested, applied directly to the skin, or even inhaled in large quantities.
If you’re considering using lemongrass essential oil for flea control or to freshen up your home, it’s crucial to consult with your vet first. Also, if you do get the green light to use it, make sure you’re diffusing it in a well-ventilated area where your pup can easily leave if the smell becomes too much for them. Better safe than sorry, right?
How Do Dogs Use Essential Oils?
Before we dive into what various oils may be used for, let’s discuss how they can be applied safely to your dog.
When you scroll down to the oils, you’ll notice they may say ‘can be applied topically, ingested, or inhaled. You might also hear it phrased as ‘can be applied topically, aromatically, or internally.
Just as with anything else that’s new, the introduction of essential oils should be gradual and slow. Start with a small amount of an essential oil and watch your dog’s behavior. If the response is neutral but you aren’t seeing much an effect therapeutically, you can generally add more essential oil or increase the frequency of application. Be sure not to start out with a huge amount immediately, though. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Aromatic Application of Essential Oil
When talking about aromatic or ‘inhaled’ applications, we’re talking about the use of a diffuser. That could be a nebulizing diffuser or water diffusion.
Nebulizing diffusers pull oil directly from the bottle and disperse the oil through the air. If you’re using a nebulizing diffuser in your home, make sure your dog has a place to escape the ‘air’ from the room if she wants to.
With water diffusion, you start with 1-5 drops of oil in a diffuser. If you have never used oils before, professionals recommend using the water diffusion method rather than the nebulizing diffusion.
Applying an Oil to Your Dog Topically
If we say an oil can be applied topically, that means the oil can be placed on your dog’s skin in certain places.
The most common area to place oil is along the spine of your dog. It’s the area the oil is usually best tolerated.
Some professionals recommend applying oil to the tips of a dog’s ears. Some dogs are okay with this, but most don’t prefer this method. You should avoid using this method if your dog has long ears. Dogs with long ears can shake their head and get the oil in their eyes accidentally.
The skin along the paw pads can sometimes tolerate essential oils… but make sure the oil is diluted if you’re placing it here. This area can easily become irritated.
Finally, certain oils can be placed in your dog’s shampoo. Dogs who have itchy skin usually benefit from this application.
Internal Application for Dogs?
And… internally. Be sure before you provide your dog with any essential oil internally, you fully understand the oil is designed for this (and find out whether the oil should be diluted and how).
Some essential oils can be placed in food and/or in drinking water. A general recommendation is 1 drop per 2 cups of drinking water for dogs.
Calming Oils: Oils to Reduce Anxiety and/or Irritability
The following oils can be beneficial in promoting a calmer mood in your pup.
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): This oil helps to provide a calming ‘mood’ for dogs who are feeling anxious or nervous. Roman chamomile can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Hops (Humulus lupulus): Hops can help calm a dog who is anxious, nervous, or irritable. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis): Valerian root is a relaxant and mild sedative. It offers calming and soothing support for your dog when she is experiencing anxiety, panic or some sort of tension.
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans): Nutmeg can help a dog who is anxious or hyperactive and has scattered energy. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This oil has many uses, but most commonly, lavender can be used to soothe and comfort a dog who is experiencing distress and/or anxiety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog. (P.S.- This oil can also be used for allergies, burns, ulcers, and insomnia.)
Oils for Fearful Dogs: Dogs Who are Feeling Stressed Out
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii): On its own, or with the support of other essential oils that help reduce a dog’s fearful emotions, Frankincense can help reduce extreme stress. This oil is used in severe cases of fear to help a dog ‘come back to the ground.’ This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Violet Leaf (Viola odorata): If a dog is shocked or hesitant toward a situation, violet leaf can be used to reduce feelings of nervousness by providing a feeling of comfort and safety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata). Linden blossom can assist in providing a sense of safety and trust. This oil is commonly recommended for dogs who have a history of abuse. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum): Sandalwood provides support on a physical and emotional level. Dogs who have emotional imbalances, worry, or uncertainly of situations are among those who can benefit from this oil. It can be very effective on its own, or in combination with other essential oils. And, can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.
Oils for Aggression: Let’s Provide Some Comfort
Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): Vanilla has comforting and nurturing qualities for dogs who experience nervous tension, irritability, and/or anger. Dogs that have been known to bite are among those for whom this oil is recommended. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically.
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): This oil is generally recommended for female dogs but can also be used for male dogs who are experiencing feelings of anger, frustration, and/or mood swings. This oil has been found to have soothing effects. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow has not only shown the ability to heal physical imbalances, but emotional imbalances as well. This could be a dog who has experienced trauma, neglect, and/or abuse… or a dog who is oversensitive. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically.
Rose Otto (Rosa damascena). Rose Otto is recommended for dogs who have a history of neglect, abuse, or suffering of some kind. This oil is also recommended for dogs who are displaying any sort of aggression. It’s important to note that alternative veterinarians have a disclaimer with this oil. A dog may continue to display aggressive behavior in the beginning of the use of Rose Otto, but you may see positive results once your dog has been exposed. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically on your dog.
Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides): Vetiver provides comfort and reassurance for an anxious dog showing aggression. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically.
Oils for Sadness: Relieving the Depression
Neroli (Citrus aurantium): There are many dogs who do not particularly care for this oil. But, if your dog will accept this oil, it can be used to support a dog who is experiencing depression, grief, or loneliness. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use).
Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has been known to have a calming effect on dogs (and humans!). And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.
Oils for Flea and Tick Prevention: Make Your Own
Essential oils can be used to prevent fleas and ticks from living on your dog’s body without exposing your dog or your family to those dangerous chemicals from traditional flea medications.
- Lemongrass Oil: Insecticidal
- Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil doesn’t kill fleas and ticks, but it does work as an effective repellant against fleas and ticks.
- Citronella Oil: Citronella isn’t a surprising candidate on this list. After all, we do use this to protect ourselves against mosquitoes. But, it is also highly effective in repelling fleas and ticks.
- Cedarwood Oil: Insect repellent
If you don’t want to make an essential oil ‘flea and tick killer’ yourself, you can investigate Richard’s Organics Naturally Gentle & Safe Flea & Tick Spray which contains a mix of peppermint, cedar, clove, and rosemary essential oils to kill fleas and ticks and repel mosquitoes for up to 4 weeks following application.
Approach with Caution: Follow Some Rules
While oils can be extremely helpful, just as with anything else, we must be cautious. Essential oils are powerful and can produce adverse effects.
‘Principles of Safe Use’ must be in place.
If your dog doesn’t like oil, don’t force her to use it.
In cases where an oil must be dilated, one drop of essential oil per 50 drops of ‘carrier oil’ (Like grape seed oil) is generally enough.
It’s also possible to overuse oils. Make sure you’re not one of those people who starts using essential oils, and then unintentionally overdoses themselves or their dogs.
Be sure not to get essential oil around or near the eyes. And, wash your hands after using any type of oil.
To reduce the chances of your dog (or you) becoming sensitive to an oil or unintentionally overdosing on an oil, a general recommendation is to use the oil for no longer than two weeks and then take a rest period. Come back to using that oil later on.
There’s More to Learn… Start Studying Today
This article just scratches the surface of essential oils.
It’s not meant to be a ‘you’re ready to do this’ type of article. You must do your own research before using any essential oil on your dog.
Print this out for reference, and ask a holistic or alternative veterinarian if your individual dog would benefit. Remember, every dog is different. And, depending on the health of your dog, some may be acceptable, whereas others aren’t recommended.
And, not all oils should be treated equal… Make sure the oil you are purchasing is of high-quality.
There are hundreds of ‘fake oils’ out there. You want your first impression to be as good as it can be. If you try out a ‘bad’ essential oil first, you won’t know if it’s really helpful for your dog (or for you).
You should never place an essential oil on your dog’s skin (or let them inhale or ingest it) without first fully understanding the oil you’re using.
Bottom line: be sure to do further research before implementing essential oils into your dog’s routine.