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:
I'm a curious-by-nature 50-something with random interests. Come visit often to see what the latest topic is.