Essential oils are all the craze lately, and for good reason. They have super powerful health benefits and can help almost any ailment. There are so many different oils to choose from and many of those of oils are wonderful for dogs.
But, can dogs ingest essential oils? There is a lot of controversies whether both humans and dogs should ingest essential oils or not. Some research advises against ingesting oils and some suggest it's ok to do in moderation. Ultimately, it is up to you whether you give your dog essential oils internally. However, we will go over some key things to know so you can make an educated decision for yourself and your pup.
Signs of a Dog Reacting to an Essential Oil
Essentially oils can be used in dogs topically, internally, and aromatically. The key things here to remember is to use them in moderation, stick to safe essential oils for dogs, and to always dilute an oil before using it on your dog, and yourself!
Essential oils are extremely powerful and potent. They should not be used in sensitive areas like around the anal glands, eyes, snout, and genitals. Always use a carrier oil like coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil to dilute your essential oil before using them on a dog.
That being said, however, if you decide to give your dog an essential oil, using something new always presents the possibility they are allergic to it. If your dog has an allergy to an essential oil, there are a few signs o look out for.
The most common ways to tell if your dog is allergic to something is if they are acting abnormally for themselves in any way. This can vary widely from dog to dog, and only you know your pup best.
Your dog may start whining, barking, scratching themselves, or chewing on the area that is bothering them. They also may begin to excessively lick their paws, experience swelling of the joints, face, and/or paws, have coughing and/or sneezing fits, and scoot their butt around the floor. If your dog is having a very severe allergic reaction they may even have some hair loss or have trouble breathing. This will require immediate medical attention!
History of Dogs and Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used in many different cultures around the world for centuries to cure a variety of illnesses and ailments. Oils have even been used for spiritual and religious purposes.
Evidence shows that the Egyptians used essential oil as early as 4500 B.C.E. They would take plants and crush them for their oils where they were then be put into pills, powders, ointments, and much more.
Furthermore, Frankincense and Myrrh were burned in the streets of Europe during the 14th century Bubonic Plague to help fight off infection. It was reported that the places who did this saw fewer deaths from the plague.
Although essential oils have been used for centuries, oils have just recently become very popular in our culture today. Essential oils are now widely available from many different sources. Essential oils have truly withstood the test of time for their superior healing qualities for illnesses, injuries, in aromatherapy, beauty products, food preservation, perfumes, and more!
Today, many people are trying to steer clear of conventional medications and unnatural substances due to the overwhelming amount of evidence we have begun to see about the dangers of these products. Therefore, we have seen a drastic shift in the sales and use of natural herbs, foods, and essential oils to help beat a cold, anxiety, depression, heal scars, make non-toxic cleaning products, and much more.
Naturally, that progression has extended to using essential oils with animals and dogs as well. Dogs and animals can benefit just as much as humans can from these powerful, ancient essential oils. We have seen essential oils help dogs who suffer from a variety of illnesses and issues. Many dog owners have a great amount of success treating their dog's stress and anxiety disorders with oils like lavender, neroli, sweet orange, and ylang-ylang.
Some owners even claim medication didn't work as well as essential oils have with their dogs. Furthermore, pet parents who have chosen to use all natural and organic flea and tick control swear by the amazing properties of geranium oil to ward off ticks from their dogs for good!
Science Behind Dogs and Essential Oils
An essential oil is a volatile organic compound that gives flowers, herbs and other plants their distinctive scent. These compounds are small, organic compounds that are able to change their state very quickly - like from a liquid to a gas. This allows the essential oil to move quickly through the air when diffusing them.
An essential oil is a very highly concentrated form of natural plant oil that can come from flowers like rose and lavender, from herbs like basil, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme, or from trees like pine. The essential oil is extracted through a process called distillation that generally uses steam or water to extract the plant extracts from their leaves, roots, flowers, bark, and stems.
So, when are essential oils safe and why are they safe to use on dogs? When used appropriately, essential oils are completely safe for use. Just like with any powerful substance they need to be used with care and used in the ways they are intended to be.
Of course, applying 20 drops of undiluted lavender oil to your dog will not be safe and can have adverse effects because of its high potency. However, blending 1-2 drops with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, will allow you to apply to oil safely to your dog. You do not need to use a lot of an essential oil for your dog to reap its benefits.
You must also make sure that you are using a 100% pure essential oil that comes from a reputable company that regularly releases documents outlining their purity standards and lab test results for purity. Low-quality oils can have all kinds of chemical additives that make them extremely unsafe to use, especially if taken internally.
Although there is a lot of controversy on whether or not to take an oil internally, in limited quantities and not extremely often, dogs can take oils internally, but just like with any other medication you may get from your vet, there are risks.
A 2006 study shows that lavender essential oil soothed a dog's central nervous system when they were traveling by reducing the dog's movement and vocalization - i.e. barking, whining, and howling. This study tested this by diffusing lavender in the method of travel the dog was experiencing.
Another study involved 37 dogs and tested a common medication called diazepam and they found it was only somewhat effective in treating dog related anxiety. Furthermore, most pet parents discontinued use of the medication because it had undesirable side effects like agitation, increased activity, increased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. This suggests lavender may be even more effective than traditional medication and can be used with little to no side effects.
How to Safely Give Your Dog Essential Oils
If you have concerns about essential oil internal use, it is best to stick with aromatherapy use and using topically with a carrier oil. If you do decide you may want to give your dog essential oils internally, it is important to have a discussion with your vet about potential risks. Once you understand the risks, you can then create a game plan with a holistic vet so you can safely administer essential oils to your dog and in the right doses.
To use aromatically, place a drop or two on your pup's collar or dog beg - adding lavender to their collar is great for dogs who suffer from anxiety. Dogs are more sensitive to essential oils than humans because their nose is much more powerful at sensing smells.
Therefore, start by diluting the oil heavily with a carrier oil at first. Then, you can gradually increase oil to 3-4 drops if you feel it necessary. You can add oils to their beds and blankets as well, make room sprays, or diffuse the oils in a special essential oil diffuser.
You can also topically apply oil to your dog's fur with a carrier oil, as well, to help keep away fleas and ticks. You can mix the essential oils and carrier oil in your hand and then rub your hand on the area of the dog's fur like their tail, upper back, legs, and upper belly away from their genital area.
Written by a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/02/2018, edited: 04/06/2020