How to Give Your Dog Aromatherapy Massages

Easy
10 - 30 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Your dog is a lean, keen smelling machine! Since smell is such an important sense to your dog, aromatherapy should be extra effective. Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils for therapeutic effect. Effects can be both physical and/or behavioral. Incorporating essential plant oils and the principles of aromatherapy and massage therapy can be very beneficial as physical properties of plant oils provide antibacterial, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects. Aromatherapy also provides relaxing or stimulating effects, depending on the essential oils used, which complements massage therapies. As part of a massage therapy, aromatherapy can be used topically, with essential oils diluted in a carrier oil and applied as a massage oil, or essential oils can be diluted in a diffuser and distributed while a massage is taking place. It is very important to remember that not all essential oils are appropriate for use with dogs, as some can be toxic. Also, essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil, and since your dog is often smaller than you are, smaller amounts of essential oils are adequate to provide therapeutic effects.

Dog's Perspective

A dog's sense of smell is much more powerful than our own, and aromatherapy can be very effective for your dog, as he will definitely pick up the scent of the oil. However, this same sensitivity can also make your dog too sensitive to essential plant oil aromas. Be sure to dilute essential oils and use smaller amounts for a smaller, sensitive dog.  Remember that dogs are not people, some plant oils can be toxic to dogs and make your dog sick. Make sure to use non-toxic essential oils, use appropriate amounts for your dog's size, and dilute essential oils appropriately.

The On the Skin Method

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Step
1
Prepare a location
Prepare to massage your dog in a quiet spot, free from interruptions.
Step
2
Dilute in carrier oil
Dilute an appropriate essential oil in a carrier oil. Popular oils for a dog's skin are lavender, which is soothing and relieves itching, peppermint, which repels insects and promotes blood flow, and chamomile, known for soothing minor skin irritations. Talk to a holistic veterinarian or pharmacist about dilution ratios and dosage appropriate for your dog's size and skin type. Usually 3-6 drops of essential oil to 1 oz of carrier oil is a rough guideline. Carrier oils can be olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil.
Step
3
Do a patch test
Put a small amount of the essential oil and carrier oil on a small area of your dog's skin, and wait 24 hours to make sure he does not have a reaction.
Step
4
Rub oil on hands
If your dog does not have a negative reaction to the aromatherapy oil, take a small amount and rub between your palms to evenly distribute the essential oil and carrier oil.
Step
5
Massage
Start massaging your dog; stroke, make circular motions or knead skin on neck, body and down legs to distribute the oils.
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The In the Air Method

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Step
1
Pick ventilated area
Massage your dog in a quiet but well ventilated area.
Step
2
Diffuse essential oil
Put a few drops of oil in water, in a diffuser, and allow room to become filled with the aroma for a few minutes before starting your doggy massage. Some essential oils used in aromatherapy for calming, that are beneficial during a massage and are safe for dogs are, lavender chamomile, sweet marjoram, cedar, and cypress. Sometimes oils are combined in a diffuser, but do not overdo it.
Step
3
Stroke your dog
Start your massage by gently stroking your dog.
Step
4
Massage
Start kneading or massaging in a circular motion, all over your dog. Observe your dog for discomfort from too much pressure or from being overwhelmed with scent. Remove your dog from the room if he sneezes excessively or seems distressed by scent.
Step
5
Allow therapeutic exposure
After massaging, allow your dog to relax in the room with the aromatherapy scent so your dog gets a total of 20 to 30 minutes exposure, in order to get the full therapeutic effect of the diffused oils.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Avoid oral administration, except under the supervision of a holistic veterinarian.
  • Use 100% pure essential oils that are safe for dogs, and dilute in carrier oils or water for diffusers. Remember if your dog is smaller than you, he needs a smaller dose than you would use.
  • Do not use aromatherapy with epileptic dogs, as scents can trigger seizures.
  • Check with a holistic veterinarian before using aromatherapy on a pregnant or lactating dog.
  • Keep essential oils away from the eyes, ears, and mouth.

Conclusion

The use of aromatherapy with massage is a common practice for humans, why not for your dog! Just remember that not all essential oils are appropriate for dogs, as some plants are toxic to dogs. Make sure you check with a reliable reference, like a holistic veterinarian or veterinary pharmacist for beneficial essential oils, dosage and dilution ratios.  Applying essential oils directly to the skin can be therapeutic, especially if your dog has a skin condition that could benefit from topical use of essential oils, like a fungal or parasitic infection. Aromatherapy can also be administered by diffusing scent in the air, for a calming effect on your dog. Whatever method you choose, your dog can benefit from the healing and soothing effects of aromatherapy, and so will you!

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