Using Lavender Oil on Dogs
Our animal companions can benefit from many of the same holistic therapies that we enjoy. As long as we keep some special precautions in mind, most therapies can be used on our pets. Aromatherapy can be of great help to some of our animals if used correctly.
Aromatherapy is the use of plant essential oils to enhance our physical and psychological well-being. It’s by no means a new therapy, with evidence of essential oil use dating back thousands of years. Included in the term “aromatherapy” would also be products like hydro-sols, carrier oils and herbs.
Often people have the mistaken idea that any kind of perfumed product is aromatherapy.
Synthetic oils, often referred to as “fragrance oils,” are not the same as essential oils. They have no therapeutic effect on the body like true therapeutic grade essential oils do. When purchasing essential oils please make sure to buy from a reputable company and that your oils are true, therapeutic grade essential oils and not fragrance oils.
With that being said, aromatherapy for pets is a bit more complicated than it is for humans. Animals’ senses are much stronger than ours, so we have to be careful in our use of oils – for the most part they need to be much more diluted than the amount we’d use on ourselves. And I need to add a very important caveat here … essential oils can be toxic to cats. Certain oils containing phenols should never be used on cats. Their liver does not contain the enzymes required to digest these compounds, which allows them to build up to toxic levels in their systems. Some aromatherapists do believe that essential oils can be safely used with cats if done correctly. However, I prefer to err on the side of caution and avoid their use with cats altogether until we know more.
LAVENDER OIL FOR DOGS
Most dogs respond quite well to aromatherapy. Lavender essential oil in particular has so many uses and is so safe to use that I really wouldn't be without it. If you’re interested in trying essential oils with your dogs, lavender oil is a safe and easy place for beginners to start.
Make sure that the lavender oil you buy has the Latin name Lavendula augustifolia or Lavendula officinalis. Lavender is one of two oils that can be used “neat,” or undiluted, directly on the skin. Even so, when using it on dogs it’s smart to dilute it with a carrier oil such as almond, olive or jojoba. A 10% dilution is a good place to start. For example, you can use one drop of lavender oil in 10 drops of carrier oil.
Another safe method of using lavender oil with dogs is to simply let them smell it. Essential oil molecules pass to the limbic area of the brain directly from the olfactory system. The limbic area deals with instinct, emotion and many of the body systems such as the immune system. In this way, inhalation of essential oils is a safe way for your dog to enjoy the beneficial effects of the oil.
Lavender is well-known for its use with people as a calming scent and it has much the same effect on dogs. Does your dog show unruly behavior during car trips? Spray some lavender oil on a cloth and hang it in the car during your trip. You and your dog will both be calmer and less stressed! If your dog freaks out during thunderstorms try putting your dog in an interior room and try the same lavender cloth technique. Lavender can also work for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. In this case, try putting a few drops of oil directly on the outside of the dog’s nylon or cloth collar an hour or so before you leave. If you try this I would advise using this collar only when you want to calm the dog – don’t use it as the dog’s main collar.
Another very effective use of lavender for dogs is as an insect repellent. Many people do not want to use toxic chemicals on their dogs. Lavender is a safe, natural alternative to those toxic poisons and there are no harmful environmental effects. It’s easy to make a lavender spray that acts as a flea repellent and helps to heal the skin. Simply put about 10 – 15 drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle and fill with water. Spray your dogs with it, being careful not to get it in their eyes. Not only will it repel fleas, you’ll have a very relaxed pooch too! You can also use the lavender spray on any hot spots, stings, or insect bites that your dog might have. It will relieve the itch and help them heal faster.
Lavender can also be blended with other essential oils for specific problems. If you notice that your dog’s odor is strong, first understand that there may be a physical issue causing the odor. It’s best to have that checked out by a vet. But if your dog has rolled in something it shouldn't have, try this natural and aromatic spray to help.
· 10 drops of lavender oil
· 6 drops of lemon essential oil
· 10 drops of geranium oil
Fill a 1 ounce spray bottle with water and add the essential oils to the water. Shake it really well and spray it directly onto your dog from about a 10 inch distance. Don’t spray on the head or eye area. You’ll need to shake it before each application since the oil will float on top of the water.
Here’s another blend you can try to keep your dog’s crate smelling fresh and clean. This blend will also repel insects.
- 1 oz. of white vinegar
- 10 drops of lemon oil
- 20 drops of tea tree oil
- 20 drops of eucalyptus oil
Add the oils to a spray bottle with 3 ounces of distilled water and shake it well. You can spray this on your pet’s crate and bedding. Just allow the bedding to dry first before allowing your pet on it again.
Using natural therapies on your pets in conjunction with regular veterinary care can add comfort and ease to your pet, along with everyday benefits. Just make sure to start with one thing at a time and with the lowest or smallest amounts to make sure they agree with your pet.