I've been doing quite a bit of research on using essential oils for pets. There is certainly lots of information out there about what is safe to use and what is not. I have chosen to use only oils that have been reported safe to use (from several sources) and to only use them after properly introducing each one slowly once diluted with a carrier oil. Our fur-babies are family in our house and I intend to be just as cautious in treating them as I would be with small children.
I have read information on both cats and dogs, but for the purpose of this post I'll just be using information as it relates to only dogs. It appears that using essential oils on cats requires even more care and caution than with dogs so PLEASE be sure to do your own research and check with a holistic veterinarian about what is appropriate for your own family pet.
Meet our Fur-Babies! These photos were taken not long after we got each of them. The little guy with the bat ears is my grand-dog Bruce Wayne. He showed up on our porch a couple of years ago looking like he'd been on his own for some time. After not being able to locate his owner, my daughter decide to make him her own. We found out on his first trip to the vet that this poor little guy had heart worms . Treatment was difficult on little Bruce and expensive for my daughter, but they both persevered and he is now healthy and happy. Bobbi (photo on the right) was a birthday present to me from my husband about 7 years ago. She is a smart and loyal companion. One of Bobbi's favorite things is sitting next to the diffuser when it has peppermint / lavender mist filling the room.
I began my research on essential oil uses for pets initially because of Bobbi's sensitive skin. She has a flea allergy that sometimes results in a trip to the vet for a cortisone shot. I am very pleased to report that the last time she had a bad reaction I was successful in treating it with lavender-water washes followed by applying lavender essential oil (diluted to about 7% solution with sweet almond oil) directly onto the irritated areas . Because she is already so fond of lavender, it was a pleasant process for her. We saw results almost immediately and complete healing within 4-5 days.
Make sure that you purchase only high quality, therapeutic grade, 100% pure essential oils. There are many companies out there that are selling "scents" or will dilute the essential oils before bottling to cut down on the cost. There are 3 companies so far that I am confident have quality oils (because I have used them). I'm sure there are many others. The comparisons I have been doing on different companies is still ongoing and include more than just oil quality, but so far I am confident that at least these 3 have quality essential oils: Young Living, Edens Garden and Rocky Mountain Oils. I will be including a testimonial in this post from a gal who will share with you where she purchases her oils.
You also need to make sure before using ANY essential oil on your pets that it is safe for them. I ran across lists of various lengths of oils that are NOT safe for use on dogs. In the book "Essential Oils for Dogs – Safe Natural Remedies for Your Dogs Care Guide Book" Author, Dave Lay, has quite an extensive list that included some oils that I have never heard of. The following list of unsafe oils for dogs was included in Amy Joyson's book "Essential Oils for Dogs – The complete guide to Safely using Essential oils" and most all of them were also listed in other sources:
So what oils do I recommend for use on your dog?
As I mentioned before, Lavender essential oil is one of my favorites to use on the dogs because it is gentle and has multiple benefits. It is anti-bacterial, helps to relieve itching, is good for treating irritated skin and allergic reactions, calms an anxious dog, and even helps repel insects.
Cedarwood has antiseptic properties, repels fleas, conditions skin and fights all types of dermatitis.
Citronella repels insects, treats insect bites, and calms a barking dog.
Eucalyptus is good at repelling fleas and relieving chest congestion.
Geranium repels ticks, fights fungal infections and is also good for skin irritations.
Peppermint repels insects, relieves motion sickness and improves digestion (and breath!)
Vetiver is very calming and is good for cleansing the skin.
Ylang Ylang is good for stress and anxiety, prevents wound infection and speeds healing, and helps to maintain healthy skin.
Organic Coconut oil is not an essential oil, but is commonly used as a carrier oil and has all kinds of handy and helpful uses. I cook with it, make beauty products with it, and frequently use it as a carrier oil in many of my essential oil recipes. Turns out it is also quite good for your dog. It is good for the immune system and the digestive system. It is great for treating itchy/dry skin and I recommend it as a carrier oil for any of the essential oil applications for your dog. It is safe (and beneficial) for your dog to ingest coconut oil in small quantities daily. It can even be applied to a rag and rubbed on their teeth to freshen breath and whiten their teeth. Because of it's detoxifying properties it is best to introduce it to your dog in very small daily doses at first to see how they tolerate it and to give their bodies time to adjust. After gradually increasing dosage, the recommended daily maintenance dose for a 20 lb. dog would be a teaspoon or less. With close observation you can adjust the dose for your own dog's weight and tolerance. Do not introduce too much coconut oil into your dogs diet too quickly or they could experience tummy upset and digestive issues.
Use patience and caution when introducing your pet to a new essential oil. Try diffusing it in the room and watch to see if they show any signs of aversion. You may also apply a couple drops of a diluted oil to your hands or soft rag and allow them to smell it. It is not a good idea to put a bottle of undiluted essential oil near your dog's face for them to smell. Not only could it possibly cause them distress (their sense of smell is highly developed and pure essential oil is highly aromatic), but it would be too easy to accidentally get some of the oil in their nose, eyes, or mouth which could be very irritating or even damaging depending on the oil.
If your dog exhibits no signs of distress when exposed to the aroma , then you may take the next step of rubbing some diluted oil on your hands and gently applying it to their fur on their back. Signs of distress may include heavy breathing or lethargy.
Before applying essential oil directly to their skin, always dilute the oil with a carrier oil and apply to a very small test area first. Watch the area for 24 hours to be certain there will not be any sort of adverse or allergic reaction to having the oil on their skin.
DO NOT APPLY ESSENTIAL OILS TO EYES, NOSE, EAR CANAL, OR GENITAL AREA
Here are a couple of recipes you may want to try:
To freshen and help get rid of bad smell you can mix up the following ingredients into a spray bottle (I would suggest glass or aluminum spray bottle).
Flea and Tick Repellent Drops - Combine the following in a 30 ml glass dropper bottle:
To help ease cracked or dry toe pads, you can make a balm from coconut oil (the type that is solid at room temperature) and a few drops of Lavender essential oil and apply it to the pads on the bottom of your dog's feet.
I recently saw some posts on my Facebook feed from a very sweet young lady. She was sharing how much she and her husband were enjoying their experience with essential oils and in particular what a benefit the oils had been for them and their dog. I am very happy that Mary Ann agreed to allow me to share her testimonial here:
Here is an awesome way to wear your favorite essential oils! This project started when a friend mentioned those rubbery bracelets that you can buy and wear as a mosquito repellent. She mentioned how she had bought them for her grandchildren to wear when they were fishing. I started thinking about how much more economical it would be to have bracelets that could be re-used with the added benefit of using essential oils rather than toxic chemicals to ward of those pesky bugs.
I tried a couple of different ideas for making the bracelets. I settled on a cotton yarn so that it would have good absorbancy and "hold onto" the oils dropped onto them. The first bracelet I made was a closed circle - (I joined the 2 ends). This worked fine - but I started thinking about my friend's grandkids and the fact that they were different ages. Each bracelet would have to be custom-sized for the wrist that would wear it. Could be done -- but wouldn't it be easier to have an adjustable bracelet? A little trial and error resulted in the product shown above. You simply hold the strings while pushing up the bead until the bracelet fits snugly. It's a good idea I hoard craft supplies! I already had a bag of pony beads and plenty of different cotton yarns to work with to develop the following pattern:
For the bracelet pictured above I used a cotton yard that I had on a spool -- can't tell you the exact weight as it has been sitting in my stash for some time and I think it originally came from a yard sale or something. But it is the type you would use to make washcloths or dishcloths. I found a size "G" aluminum crochet hook in my pencil holder next to my chair so that's what I used for a hook!
Place hook in first stitch (3rd from hook) and make a shell (Shell=1 sc, ch2, 1sc in same stitch)
*When shell is complete, ch 2 and turn. make 1 shell in the ch2space of previous shell*
Repeat from * until the bracelet is the length that you want. This bracelet works up very quickly and since it is worked vertically, it is very easy to just make the length you want without having to figure out how many stitches you need in a foundation row.
Make a chain just an inch or two longer than the circumference of the bracelet and fasten off. (keep in mind that when bracelet is tightened it will make the strings longer, so I usually go shorter rather than longer on the chain). The shell stitch leaves a little hole at the center of each shell. I use my hook to weave the chain in and out of these holes all the way around the bracelet. You will want to end on a hole that leaves both ends of the chain hanging on the outside. Pull and adjust until both sides of the chain are of equal length.
Thread a pony bead onto one string then thread the second string through the bead (from the same direction). Once you slide the bead up onto the part of the string that has the chain (not just the tails) it should fit snugly. If it doesn't, you'll need to use a bead with a smaller hole or start over with a larger yarn! At this point I made a knot at the end of each chain and wove in the tails.
That's all there is to it!
Turns out that the pattern I used above made just a sliver of a bracelet when using Cotton thread and a smaller hook so I modified the pattern a bit. I started with ch 6 and made 2 shells per row (no extra ch between shells - only the ch 2 and the end of each row) It made a nice lacy-looking bracelet. I did not add the chain to adjust size since I made it just to fit me, but I did add a little "button" on the top to hold the essential oil. There's no pattern for the button because I didn't write anything down. I basically just made a small circle (like the first few rows when making a doily) then started decreasing the edge so it curled back in on itself. I kept reducing until I was back to just 1 stitch. I sewed it onto the bracelet with the same black thread it was made from and it turned out pretty good :)
It doesn't take long for the lacy bracelet made from cotton thread to stretch out to a point where it doesn't spring back into shape. I promised to send my Auntie a bracelet and a little bottle of my special blend, but she needed one that could be adjusted and tightened as needed. For her bracelet I added the chain that wove through the length of the bracelet. (like in the first pattern) Because the thread was so small, I used one of my jade beads that had a much smaller hole than the pony beads.
I have enjoyed playing with different variations of this bracelet because they are so quick and easy to work up. Hope you will enjoy it too.
A continuing series of posts on my favorite essential oils must include Vetiver. Like Frankincense and Australian Sandalwood essential oils, I cannot seem to get enough of Vetiver. I find the earthy/smokey aroma to be calming and I use it in my personal blend that I keep with me at all times. My blend combines the following essential oils in a roller bottle with Sweet Almond Oil:
In my comparison of essential oil companies I have intentions to purchase vetiver for at least 2-3 other sources, but as of the date of this post I have only purchased from Young Living.
Vetiver is native to India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka but has also been cultivated in other areas such as the Philippines, Japan, West Africa and South America. The roots are mainly steam-distilled in Haiti and Java. Haiti is reputed for producing the highest quality of Vetiver essential oil.
The cooling properties of Vetiver resulted in it's use for bringing natural freshness and cooling during the warmer summer months by weaving mats of the Vetiver roots for use in the home. The roots were also placed into earthen pots to naturally cool drinking water and keep it fresh. The grass was used in making roof thatches and Africans used the grass for making rugs, baskets, and other items for their homes.
Vetiver was used in folk medicine due to the belief that it had properties that produced abundance and is known in India as the "Oil of Tranquility".
What's so good about Vetiver?
Because of it's calming properties, Vetiver essential oil has been shown to be helpful for people who suffer from anxiety and studies have also shown some effectiveness for ADHD when the oil is inhaled. It helps to balance the mind and spirit and strengthen the reproductive system. It is an effective tonic and sedative, proven anti-oxidant, and is even being studied for it's possible uses as a natural insecticide. Other documented properties include: antiseptic, immune-stimulant, circulatory stimulant, anti-spasmodic, and it helps with the production of red corpuscles.
Vetiver oil also helps with many skin problems including acne and aging skin due to it's ability to promote skin regeneration and strengthen connective tissue.
Popular ways of using Vetiver essential oil:
- Add a few drops to your favorite carrier oil and use to cleanse your face using the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). I use organic coconut oil most often for this purpose,
- Add drops to a natural home made after shave or face toner. Make a 50/50 solution of distilled water and witch hazel, Put the mixture in a glass spray bottle and spray onto cleansed face,
- Diffuse by itself or combined with other essential oils. I love the relaxing scent of Vetiver and Australian Sandalwood being diffused together. (no carrier oil needed)
- Use in a warm bath (make sure you add to carrier oil first and THEN put a few drops into your bathwater)
- Add to your favorite massage oil
Internal use of frankincense (and other essential oils) may have toxic effects and should not be ingested without supervision of a health professional.
Always test for skin sensitivity prior to use. Excessive use of any oil can lead to skin sensitization. Keep out of eyes, ears, or nose.
Not all oils are created equal, so be particular about the brand of essential oil you use.
I'm a curious-by-nature 50-something with random interests. Come visit often to see what the latest topic is.