Many people love the soothing scent of lavender and swear by it for different purposes. It does have many impressive benefits - from providing stress relief when used in aromatherapy, as a way to battle insomnia, as a migraine remedy to providing irritation relief when diluted thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it smells great too. But why is it that some dogs are fans of lavender as well - do our canine companions find the scent as relaxing as we do and can it be used to treat a dog's sleep issues or skin irritation? Lastly, and most importantly, is lavender safe for them?
The Root of the Behavior
Lavandula angustifolia or more commonly lavender is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean although it is very commonly used worldwide and can be found in most households. It has a unique flowery scent that is considered soothing to the central nervous system and that is one of the reasons that it is used to make essential oils. Though it is commonly used in aromatherapy, many pet-owners are unaware of the advantages lavender can have on their dogs when used properly and many even believe that it is harmful. Lavender is not poisonous to dogs under most circumstances - however, you should use it with caution and only after a consultation with your veterinarian. Since dogs have a very good sense of smell, the lavender oil should always be diluted, otherwise, it is too potent for any dog to enjoy. Although most dogs seem indifferent to the aromatic smell of lavender, some dogs appear to actually like it a lot even though it is quite rare. It doesn't look like there were any scientific studies conducted on whether dogs actually like the smell or not and why but many owners see the positive effects lavender has on their dogs and say that they don’t seem to mind it. Some companies even make lavender scented treats for dogs that are quite popular among dogs for their unique flavor, regardless of their breed. If your dog enjoys the smell of lavender you should not be concerned as though it is rare it is also normal. Most likely your dog finds the smell calming and it makes him less anxious. If you want to regularly diffuse lavender oil in your house, you need to consult a veterinarian or an aromatherapist who could recommend or even prepare an organic and natural blend specific to your dog's needs. There are veterinary clinics that diffuse natural oils such as lavender in their waiting room to put the dogs at ease before getting examined and noticed a positive difference in the dog's stress-levels.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your dog enjoys the smell of lavender you can consider getting a diffuser or some lavender-scented treats for him. However, it is very important to remember that even though lavender is safe for dogs when used properly, any essential oil or substance at high concentrations can cause adverse effects and can be harmful. Don’t encourage your dog to eat actual lavender if you have it growing in your backyard and never apply lavender oil that has not been properly diluted onto your dog's fur or skin unless specifically instructed by your veterinarian. If lavender oil is not diluted correctly it can cause allergic reactions and even burns. It can also be absorbed through the skin and cause organ damage. Pet grooming products often contain natural scents such as lavender but they have been greatly diluted and are safe to use when used according to label instructions. Don’t put more product or keep it on longer than it says on the label as that could also cause allergic reactions and hurt your dog. Lastly, don’t force your dog to like lavender if he doesn’t seem to be a fan of it. There is no need to encourage it if he doesn’t like it. When trying to find out how your dog feels about the scent, make sure it is diluted or in a form specifically designed for dogs (for example a lavender scented treat) and always make sure he can move away from it if he doesn’t like it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dogs have much more sensitive noses than we do and it is important that whatever candle we burn in the house, or whatever oil we diffuse around our four-footed family members does not hurt them or cause them to be anxious. It is always best to consult your dog's veterinarian before exposing your dog to any intense scents and to always make sure to provide an escape route for your dog in case he needs it. If you burn a scented candle in the bedroom, make sure to leave the door open so that your dog can move elsewhere if he doesn’t enjoy the scent. Similarly, if you are cooking onions in the kitchen make sure your dog doesn’t have to be subjected to the eye-watering odor either.
It is essential not to forget that our furry friends are also our four-legged roommates and we need to keep them in mind when filling up a room or several with a particular scent. What smells nice to us, doesn’t necessarily smell good to them and vice versa. Consulting a veterinarian and going for natural scents and dog-friendly essential oils that have been diluted is key in covering the dog smell without making your dog feel left out.