Essential Oils For Dogs
By Cheryl Beller, MBA, Aromatherapist
Aromatherapy has gone to the dogs! And it’s about time. Considering the power of your dog’s sense of smell, it is small wonder that he or she would love to be included in the fragrant fun. It may seem like an extravagance or just a fad, but aromatherapy—whether for us or for our dogs—has serious benefits for all.
What exactly is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy uses the essential oils of plants, carefully extracted to retain the original characteristics and fragrances inherent to them. Many parts of the plants are used, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, and resin. Aromatherapy is an alternative to the use of synthetic chemicals in our search to feel good, support wellness, bond with our pets, and enjoy beautiful scents.
Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years. Ancient cultures learned to extract the essential oils from plant parts and to use those oils for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. As people benefitted from them, their use expanded across the globe. Eventually, the antibacterial qualities of some oils were scientifically proven, supporting thousands of years of anecdotal experience. During the last century, the development of synthetic chemicals largely overshadowed the use of essential oils and other natural modalities for both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes. However, by the 1990s, interest in more natural alternatives that preserve the “life force” inherent in botanically based products, began to re-emerge.
As interest in natural alternatives re-surfaced, studies were conducted to determine their potential use with pets and other domesticated animals. A body of work developed that identified which oils are safe to use, and in what dilutions, for many different animals. As it turns out, we may safely use a wide variety of effective oils on our dogs, as long as we dilute those oils appropriately. What’s more, our dogs love having aromatherapy added to their everyday regimen. Some dogs are so accustomed to receiving their aromatherapy blends that they actually “ask” for them by approaching their owners with head bowed and the back of the neck (suggested application location) exposed.
There are many ways for you to incorporate aromatherapy into your life with dogs. You can start by using blends intended to support, calm, or relax your otherwise excitable pet. You might look for blends that soothe itching, relieve discomfort, or deter fleas or ticks.
Take a close look at the products’ ingredients to determine if they are made with true essential oils, or if they are synthetically compounded to smell as if they are the “real thing.” True essential oil blends offer not only life force from the energy sources that made them grow (water, sun, earth), but also work synergistically to multiply the benefits of each oil included in the blend. An appealing blend will not only be effective, but will also smell wonderful, and will please you as the applicant, and your dog as the recipient.
Make a special time each day to interact with your pet. Make it a ritual for just the two (or more?) of you. Find a nice quiet place to sit down together to apply the oils. Pet your dog, give a little massage, and talk to him or her. Enjoy the immediate response as your dog settles into enjoying your special time together.
Don’t forget yourself! You deserve some pampering and support, too. Treat yourself to a blend that gives you the same relaxation, energy, peace of mind, and comfort that you would wish for your canine friend. When you incorporate aromatherapy into your life with and your pet, you create a unique connection that will expand your relationship in new ways.
Cheryl Beller is the Founder and Creative Director of Well Scents, Aromatherapy for Pets and Their People She is available to answer your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org