In a time when pet owners are actively researching natural health options for their pets, such as raw diets, dog owners are starting to also explore the use of essential oils for their pooches. If you’re wondering how essential oils could benefit your pup, here’s what you need to know!
What You Need To Know
It’s important to note, first off, that essential oils do not present a cure or solution to any problem your dog may have. I’m not interested in giving band-aid solutions, and treating larger issues using essential oils is just that. If your dog has behavioural or health issues, you must treat the root cause. That said, aromatherapy can be a helpful tool for to subsidize your training or other methods.
The most important fact to be aware of is that a dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times better than ours*. Because of this, dilution is key when using essential oils on or around dogs. Essential oils can be a fantastic tool for healing or soothing your pooch, as well as for nosework, but it’s crucial that we dilute properly.
This means that products used topically on dogs should be diluted to 0.5-1% essential oils in the total mix. It’s always a good idea to err on the side of a lower dilution. If mixing massage oil for your dog, for instance, you will want to mix your carrier oil and essential oil at a ratio of 10:1, and then use one drop of that mixture in (how much of) your carrier oil again.
Because dogs have such great sniffers, they can tell us clearly when they particularly like a scent. If they really love an oil, they will start licking around the area and trying to get to it. In some cases, this might be an indication that they need the substance internally (in which case you could administer a hydrosol diluted to one drop in two cups of water). An example of when this treatment might be helpful would be using peppermint hydrosol to soothe digestive upsets.
Learn more about aromatherapy for dogs in our Canine Aromatherapy class. We'll have our fall dates posted in August!
My Path to Doggie Aromatherapy
My own interest in aromatherapy for dogs began just a couple of years ago when our dog Matilda bit our other dog Django. The wound was fairly serious and we took him to the vet for antibiotics, but I simultaneously began researching how I could use hydrosols to heal him as well. We ended up using just the hydrosols and not needing the antibiotics because the cuts healed very fast. From there, I became fascinated by the potential benefits of aromatherapy for dogs.
With essential oils and aromatherapy gaining popularity, we are seeing the hiccups of consumers learning best practices (sometimes the hard way). We are currently working to break down myths about the topical use of essential oils in an effort to prevent anyone toxifying themselves. But as more people become aware of the potential of using essential oils with their dogs, the danger exists of dog owners toxifiying their pooches, and we want to prevent that too!
Make It Yourself
My favourite DIY product for dogs is a first aid hydrosol that I keep in the fridge and take along on hikes or when we go camping.
First Aid Hydrosol For Dogs
Blend equal parts of each ingredient in a spray bottle. Store in fridge. Shake well before using.
*Or 40, 50, 1,000, or even 1 million! Check out http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-sense-of-smell.html