How Aromatherapy Can Benefit Your Dog
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using of essential oils, carrier oils, and hydrosols for holistic, therapeutic healing. It can greatly benefit humans and dogs physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Essential oils, which are aromatic oils derived from plant materials, are most commonly used in aromatherapy practices for dogs. Diffusing them is the easiest and most effective way to treat your dog right in the comfort of his own home.
Aromatherapy can benefit dogs in many ways, but it is an especially beneficial treatment for dogs with anxiety or fear-based issues. This includes, but is not limited to separation anxiety, hyperactivity, anxious chewing, noise phobias, shyness/hiding, trembling, and nervous biting/nipping. Because dogs have such powerful noses, aromatherapy is meant to ground them in an environment where calming oils are present in the air. Therefore, aromatherapy is best started when your dog does not feel threatened. This way, your dog will begin to associate these scents with comfort and safety.
There are many types of essential oils, each with different properties, so they can be used either by themselves or in combination depending on what best suits your dog’s needs. Here are some examples of commonly used essential oils and what they are used for:
- Roman chamomile: anxiety, fear, trembling, disturbed sleep
- Geranium: anxiety, fear, hormonal support, PTSD
- Ginger: nausea/motion sickness, increase confidence
- Jasmine: anxiety, trauma/abuse, PTSD
- Lavender: anxiety, fear, trembling, hyperactive, physical or emotional trauma, disturbed sleep, jumpy/spooky, hypersensitive to touch/sound
- Sweet orange: increase confidence
- Patchouli: grounding, hyperactive, sensitive to touch, trauma/abuse
- Rose: emotional wounds, trauma/abuse, lack of vitality and joy, sadness, fear-aggression, PTSD
- Tangerine: increase confidence/focus, hyperactive energy, repetitive negative behavior, separation anxiety
- Ylang-ylang: anxiety, body trembling, hypersensitive to touch, trauma/abuse, jumpy/spooky, increase confidence (especially in males), fear-aggression
So, for example, if your dog struggles with separation anxiety you can diffuse this calming recipe while you are away from your dog:
Contact your vet or aromatherapist before using essential oils, to be sure that they are a safe and healthy treatment for your pet. Here are some important tips to remember when using essential oils for or around your pets:
- DO NOT use diffusers near cats, as they lack the enzymes required to break down individual components that are in essential oils. If a cat’s metabolic system is disrupted, it can lead to severe liver and kidney problems.
- DO NOT use diffusers near birds, fish, reptiles/amphibians, and small mammals like ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits, etc.
- If you think your pet is having a negative reaction to essential oils, discontinue use and seek veterinary care if necessary.
- All pets are different! Not every essential oil will work with your pet. It is possible that they may be more sensitive to one essential oil over another.
- DO NOT apply essential oils directly to your pet’s nose, eyes, ears, and genital areas.
- ALWAYS dilute essential oils when applied topically to your pet.
- DO NOT give essential oils internally to your pet.
- NOT all essential oils are safe for pets. If you are unsure whether an essential oil is safe to use, consult your vet or aromatherapist. (Read the Pet Poison Hotline’s analysis of dangerous essential oils for pets)
- Be sure your diffuser is placed in a very well-ventilated area.
- DO NOT trap your pet in a room with a diffuser; be sure they can freely enter and exit the room.
- DO NOT place a diffuser directly in your pet’s crate.
- DO NOT use your diffuser constantly; ideally, you should let it run every 5-10 minutes every 4 hours or less.
- Less is more! Always start with lesser amounts of new essential oils to avoid overstimulation. if you feel that a certain amount of an essential oil has been working well for your pet, there is no need to add more.
- Vanessa Rances