Dogs & Aromatherapy
Dog aromatherapy usage is mainstream now. Fifteen or so years ago, when we first created Relax Roll-On Dog Aromatherapy, using essential oils for dogs was still considered pretty woo-woo, even fringe. Over the last few years we have seen more acceptance of what were once considered alternative treatments.
It has been proven that smells connect us emotionally to events in our past and trigger memories, both pleasant (gingerbread cookies baking) and the not-so-pleasant (that 2-day drive you took with your uncle who wore too much Hai Karate aftershave). Since ours dogs have much more powerful noses than our puny sniffers, they will benefit even more from the light usage of essential oils.
Oils have also been shown to reduce anxiety and inflammation, fight infections by inhibiting bacteria, keeping fungi and viruses from growing and to soothe muscle aches and pains. Aromatherapy oils are also used to lessen stress, calm anxiety, activate memory and more…in people and their pets.
By the way, there is so much mis-information about dogs and essential oils online. It seems that the internet has made it easy for us to play an amplified version of the old telephone game, where a phrase was whispered to one child at one end of the line and they whispered to the next and so on. By the end the sentences were usually pretty different! Our article on Safety, Essential Oils and Dogs is here. Also, our video library on dogs and essential oils is right below.
History Note: Did you know an Ancient Egyptian tomb was discovered with 8,000,000 dog mummies? Read more here.
Essential Oils 101
How can we distill plants and get such amazing results from the resulting essential oils? Plants cannot move to escape predators or disease (except on creepy movies), so they evolve to produce compounds that neutralize or repel pests and pathogens. Yeah, plants get stinky or prickly to repel threats! Same here, my plant friends, same here.
By using the natural defenses that plants have developed we can create healing substances for our health and well-bring and that of our dogs.
Essential oils are absorbed by inhalation, ingestion and contact with the skin. They enter the body and the blood stream and are quickly distributed to various tissues.
Aromatherapy oils and essential oils are essentially the same (bad pun) and the terms are often used interchangeably. There are also fragrance oils that are only supposed to SMELL like the specific scent, NOT have the properties of the essential oils.
This leads to misuse of aromatherapy verbiage in advertising. Everything seems to be lavender this or that… there is probably little or no REAL lavender in many of the advertised products. Most products such as household cleaners, air sprays, laundry powders, liquids and pods use fragrance oils or chemical scent additives to have a certain scent. Like stuff that says it is "chocolatey."
For our purposes, we are talking about high quality essential oils NOT the scent-only oils you find in most consumer products such as room fresheners, etc.
Essential Oils and Your Dog
If you are new to using essential oils for your dog here are a few pointers that will hopefully make the process smoother for you both.
Essential oils will not act like a sedative on your dog. For example, the purpose of Relax Dog Aromatherapy is to take the edge off your dog's heightened emotional state and allow them to be calmer until the stress inducing situation is over. We don't expect a whiff of Relax to make your dog enjoy the 4th of July fireworks, we do hope they are less frantic and in a more comfortable state of mind.
Of course, dogs are individuals and will react differently from one to another. Watch for nuances of reaction in your dog. Some dogs respond to the first usage and others may take a couple of instances. Give it a few tries. And, of course, some dogs seem unaffected. Think of it like how some people take Benadryl and are drowsy, others become hyper and others have no visible effects at all.
In our opinion, it is worth it to try the less invasive, more natural and relatively inexpensive route of essential oils for calming your dog before moving onto medical options. But for some dogs, medical options may be needed.
The best way for your dog to achieve maximum benefits is through a combination of breathing in the oils and by the oils being absorbed through the skin. This is done by applying the oils onto your dog and allowing them to sniff as desired.
Offer the bottle for your dog to sniff. Some dogs may sniff and turn away, as they are unsure of the new smell or they are insecure about new things generally. Some dogs will eagerly sniff or paw at the bottle. Your dog may some interest for a bit then move on to something new. If your dog is not all interested, try again later.
Essential oils can be a powerful tool in your dog health care toolkit. Used properly, aromatherapy oils can help lessen your dog's stress and anxiety naturally. No intense drugs, no sedation, just the natural soothing power of essential oils.