Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
A Little Background
Although the term”aromatherapy” was coined in 1920’s, the use of essential oils for their healing properties goes further back. Hippocrates who was known as the “Father of Medicine” studied the effects of essential oils on health. He also promoted the use of essential oils for their medicinal benefits.
As you might know, fragrance affects us. Essential oils therapeutically trigger emotions and moods as the brain interprets scent. They sort of work similarly to how scent might trigger memories i.e., fresh baked cookies might remind you of when grandma used to bake. Other fragrances might put you “in the mood.” I don’t think examples are necessary for that one. Aromatherapy uses the essential oils of flowers and herbs to travel from the scent receptors in order to communicate directly with the brain. It is unlike the examples I provided in that specific oils derived from nature affect the brain and the nervous system to evoke specific emotional responses. I like the essential oil recipes here.
Things to know about essential oils and aromatherapy
Aromatherapy requires authentic essential oils. Air fresheners do not work and they are often unsafe for dogs (particularly those with allergies, respiratory issues, and prone to seizures). Air fresheners are synthetic and often contain chemicals that manufacturers are legally permitted to not inform consumers about. You may read more in my article Dangers of Air Freshener Products.
It is very important to get high-quality essential oils – often times you get what you pay for. See below to learn how to evaluate quality. Just spray the mixture onto your dog’s body (avoiding the face) when a stressful situation is pending or occurring. Be very careful to follow the instructions. Essential oils are extremely potent. Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and if it is too strong it could cause issues. They will be safe if you do NOT make the recipes stronger than suggested.
Do it yourself essential oil recipes
The substances that are used to add essential oils to are called carriers. Carriers are critical because they dilute the oils to make them safe to apply directly. If you would like to create these blends for in a diffuser, the recipes don’t need to be diluted. To diffuse, put undiluted essential oils into an aromatherapy diffuser that is specifically designed for use with essential oils. Make sure the diffuser is on very low and keep it away from the dogs. It is important to read the instructions for the diffuser to find out how much space it will cover. Use it on a much lower setting than the manufacturer recommends for use for people You cannot use a diffuser in small spaces.
Beware: Essential oils are very potent. A single drop of a plant’s essential oil is more than 75 times stronger than the natural plant equivalent. While essential oils can be beneficial for dogs, if not diluted, essential oils become dangerous for use on dogs. Never apply them unless diluted directly onto your dog. Many dilutions use alcohol which enables the oil to blend with the water.
You will need 3-4 ounces of a carrier which will dilute the essential oil. Carriers include sweet almond oil, sesame oil, jojoba Oil, avocado oil, and aloe vera gel. For each recipe choose one carrier. Place ingredients into a small bottle (preferably glass). You can rub 2 to 3 drops of any of the recipes you have made and apply it to the edge of your dog’s ears, between the toes, on his inner thighs, or under the area we might call the armpits. You can also apply a mixture from behind the neck and down the body.
If you would like to make a spray mist, instead of using a carrier oil, use 10 ounces of water per every 20 drops. Put the mixture in a spray bottle. You can spray this mixture onto your dog’s bed, favorite blanket or directly onto your dog (avoiding the face).
Keep in mind that when water is used as the carrier, will need to shake the mixture well before each application. Spray a light mist over your dog during times when they need help settling. If you would like, you can spray a little bit onto your hands and then massage pet your dog’s body to distribute the product. You can put a tiny bit onto the tips of the ears on the where there is hair. Avoid face and eyes.
3- 4 oz. carrier (see examples of carrier oils above)
5-10 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
5-10 drops Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
You will need a small bottle to mix and store in when a carrier aside from water is used.
Recipe 2 – General Anxiety (separation, noise, vet visits, fear of people…) Blend
3 – 4 ounces carrier (see examples of carrier oils above)
6-8 drops Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
6-8 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
3-4 drops Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
3-4 drops Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Recipe 3 – General Anxiety
3 ounces carrier (see examples of carrier oils above)
To prepare single essential oils choose one of the following:
16-20 drops of Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
12-16 drops of Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
8-12 Drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
You can make a blend of the above oils:
3 – 4 ounces carrier (see examples of carrier oils above)
8-10 drops of Neroli (Citrus aurantium)
6-8 drops of Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
4-6 Drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
You will need a small bottle to mix and store the when a carrier aside from water is used.
Recipe 4 – Separation Anxiety
This blend has pure essential oils without any dilution. It is only meant to be used in a diffuser to calm your dog when you are gone. Do NOT apply undiluted oils to your dog.
8-10 drops of Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis)
4-6 drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
4-6 drops of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
If you wish to use those ingredients to make an essential oil blend to apply to your dog, add 3 – 4 ounces of a carrier oil (see examples of carrier oils above). You will need a small bottle to mix and store the blend.
Recipe 5 – Calming Powder
3 parts of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
2 parts of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
2 parts of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
1 part of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
Use 12 to 15 drops of this essential oil blend per cup of baking soda, or use a blend of baking soda and rice flour. Stir or shake to mix well.
You can sprinkle this powder onto a blanket or a pillow that can be taken along during car rides. You can also sprinkle the powder sparingly onto a cushion or inside your dog’s crate or anywhere your dog wants to cuddle up to.
To find therapeutic grade essential oils, look for the following:
- Essential oils must be bottled in amber, cobalt or violet glass bottles.
- Look for important information about the oils. Such information should be provided on the label, at the product’s website, or in the product’s brochure.
- The scientific name of the oil as well as the Common name of the oil (i.e., Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender)
- How the oil was extracted
- Country of origin
- Method of cultivation (i.e., organic, cultivated, wild-harvested, etc.) The words “100% pure essential oil”.
- Essential oils are generally expensive, so don’t go for unreasonably cheap oils. Cheap oils are likely to be adulterated. They are not likely to be a therapeutic grade and render them useless.
- Avoid buying essential oils at supermarkets or health food stores (they may be cheaper but usually of a lower quality).
*Just be sure that you confirm the safety of using essential oils on your dog with a vet who is well-versed in essential oils (especially if your dog has kidney disease or seizure disorders).
Dr. Jones’ Natural Animal Care Course. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. Lecture: Noise
Anxiety. Section 8 Lecture 103.
Feinman, Jeffrey. “Anxiety, Stress, Pet Boarding & Pet Sitting, Homeopathic
Calming Remedies.” Ask the Vet. Dogs Naturally Magazine, 2014.
Henriques, Julia. “Three Essential Oil Recipes for Fearful Dogs.”Dogs Naturally Magazine, 2
La, Kacie. “4 DIY Essential Oil Recipes For Your Dog.”
Dogs Naturally Magazine, 24 July 2015. Web. 24 July 2015.
You can read the original article here at Essentially Dogs: