Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being. This is now an important part of everyday life for many people, and some are even extending its use to their four-legged family members!
Aromatherapy works via the senses, and in addition to the positive effect of touch that your dog will receive when you treat him with oils, he will benefit from their smell. Since your dog’s nose is much more sensitive to smell than yours, it’s not surprising that this form of holistic therapy is gaining popularity amongst pet owners.
After being applied to the skin, the oils evaporate and are inhaled. Their aromatic molecules enter the nasal cavity, sinuses and lungs, and are then absorbed into the bloodstream. Essential oils are also considered to possess “vibrational energy” - this is supposed to have a positive healing effect on the emotional states of the body and mind.
There are hundreds of essential oils available, all of which can have different effects on dogs. And just as is the case in people, different dogs react differently to any one type of oil. Although many are used on dogs, two of the most popular essential oils are lavender and eucalyptus.
Lavender is considered to have a variety of benefits for dogs, and is especially noted for the following properties:
- Calming, sedative action: It is an excellent oil to help calm dogs that are fearful, agitated, hyperactive or anxious.
- Flea and tick control: Although it doesn’t kill fleas and ticks, it can be useful in helping to repel them.
- Skin therapy: It can help to provide some relief when applied to dry, itchy skin.
- Fragrance: In addition to its medicinal benefits, its fragrance makes for an effective way to control pet odor.
Eucalyptus is also very widely used for its numerous benefits, and is especially noted for the following properties:
Flea control: Like lavender, this can help to repel these parasites.
- Skin therapy: It can be useful to help soothe skin after insect bites, stings, and skin rashes.
- Antiseptic qualities: Its disinfectant properties can be useful for skin problems and also when cleaning bedding.
- Respiratory therapy: Its inhalant properties help to combat respiratory problems such as sinus infections and bronchitis.
- Fragrance: Eucalyptus can also be very effective against pet odor.
Using The Oils
Direct application of the concentrated oil: For flea and tick control, add a drop of the oil to the back of your dog’s neck, and a drop to the base of the tail. Additionally, for an effective way to freshen his bedding, add a couple of drops when you wash it.
Dilute application of the oils: You may wish to dilute the oil, either for milder complaints or if you prefer to try low concentrations initially. If so, add 15 drops to a small spray bottle filled with water. This can then be sprayed on your dog’s skin for flea and tick control, skin healing, or relaxation. Adding it to your dog’s bath water is another effective way of applying a dilute form of the oil to his skin for flea and tick control. It can also be sprayed onto bedding or furniture for odor elimination, or even used as a room freshener. Alternatively, add a few drops to a carpet shampoo before cleaning household rugs. If you don’t feel like playing chemist, you can buy products specially formulated for dogs that contain these oils. We recommend the Cain & Able line of products that have shampoos, conditioners sprays and balms that contain the highest grade essential oils.
Use the concentrated oil as an inhalant: If you are using eucalyptus for your dog’s respiratory problem, add a couple of drops of the oil to a handkerchief and hold it close to his nose so he can inhale the oil vapor.
4 Important Points About Essential Oils
- Never give them by mouth or in food
- Keep them out of reach of cats
- Do not apply to open skin wounds
- Do not use on pregnant animals
Overall though, aromatherapy is a natural and safe treatment option for your dog if you are looking to try an alternative to chemical products for various ailments. And you don’t even need to mess around with the oils themselves – Try a “Between Baths Spritz” which is a lavender-based product that is ready for you to spray on your dog’s skin. Additionally, a lavender/eucalyptus shampoo and conditioner can alternatively be used at bath time. These products are natural and safe, and can be very soothing for your dog’s sensitive areas. And no mixing required!