It’s surprising how a certain smell can trigger memories, perhaps freshly baked chocolate chip cookies reminds you of home or the aroma of sweet, succulent strawberries may conjure up images of making jam with Grandma.
Regardless of what the scent is, aromatherapy and its benefits have been known for many years in the human-realm, but now veterinarians are discovering the true power it can have in the lives of our canine companions.
Read on to discover some interesting facts about dog aromatherapy and how it could help your pooch live a happier, more blissful life.
What is Aromatherapy?
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), aromatherapy or Essential Oil Therapy can be defined as:
The art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process…
Although, aromatherapy has been used throughout the farthest reaches of the world for centuries, this practice was “discovered” in 1912 by a French chemist by the name of Rene Maurice Gattefosse.
As the story tells, Gattefosse badly burned his hands and treated himself with lavender essential oil. The chemist was astounded by his speedy recovery from the burns and was inspired to immerse himself in an intense study of essential oils.
He analyzed the chemical properties of various oils to see how they would react on skin infections, gangrene and wounds incurred by the soldiers during World War I.
By 1928, Gattefossé founded the science of aromatherapy and by the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, and other health care providers began using aromatherapy.
However, it took until the 1980s before this practice would gain popularity in the United States.
Dog Aromatherapy and How it Works:
Researchers have discovered the use of pure essential oils in our canines stimulates the limbic system of the brain which is the part that controls moods and emotions.
Very specific oils are effective in controlling or completely eliminating feelings of stress, anxiety, fear and anger, among other emotions.
These amazing oils can be inhaled by the dog or absorbed through the skin and occasionally, some may be taken internally.
When to Use Dog Aromatherapy:
Surprisingly, the use of essential oils can be administered in many situations, not just in the calming department. Here are the common ailments essential oils are being used for in the treatment dogs:
- Pain Relieving
- Antimicrobial (ex. UTIs)
- Antiviral (ex. kennel cough)
- Repelling Insects (ex. Lyme Disease)
The amazing properties of essential oils are working wonders on canines all over the world. However, with every “medicine” (natural or synthesized) we must take precautions when it comes to our pooches.
Safety Tips and Precautions When Using Dog Aromatherapy:
The holistic advantages of using essential oils is highly regarded by most veterinarians, but there are some precautions to take.
First off, unless you know the exact measurements for each tincture, the essential oils should be already mixed by your veterinarian to ensure your pooch is getting the proper dosage for its specific ailment (too much can be dangerous and too little will be ineffective).
Always bear in mind that our dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than ours, so when he or she inhales the aroma it will enter into the bloodstream very quickly.
Take extra precaution when using dog aromatherapy on very young pups, very old canines or those that are already ill.
Experts recommend in these cases to use a diffuser (more on that later) instead of the direct contact method.
How to Administer Dog Aromatherapy:
The most common use of the dog aromatherapy essential oils is to massage it into the pup’s skin (unless you have been instructed to place it on a specific location like the spine or specific joint).
Experts suggest for an overall aromatherapy treatment, it’s best to massage it in where there is less hair. This would include the belly, inner thighs and legs.
Some essential oils are now being included into shampoos, conditioners and spritzers to make it easy for you to administer in a less concentrated formula.
Another way for your dog to benefit from aromatherapy is through the use of a specially-made diffuser (like a plug-in for your home).
Heating the essential oil brings out the fragrance, releasing the tiny particles into the air.
This is perfect for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, as the scent tends to last longer.
The last dog aromatherapy treatment is to place the oil directly on the pet’s tongue.
However, this must ONLY be done by the direction of a veterinarian, as essential oils are highly concentrated and can be dangerous, even toxic, if ingested.
Common Essential Oils Used in Dog Aromatherapy:
Here is a list of some of the more common and easily found essential oils for canines:
- Clary Sage
- Sweet Orange
- Ylang Ylang
Remember before you go ahead and apply any of these, be sure to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian and let him/her know you want to use a specific essential oil on your pooch.
This is important as your dog may have an undiagnosed problem that could negatively react to dog aromatherapy.
Essential Oils to Avoid in Dog Aromatherapy:
Not all essential oils are good for your dog. Here is a list of aromatherapy oils to avoid, as they can be dangerous and toxic to canines.
The Last Sniff on Dog Aromatherapy:
There are many benefits to dog aromatherapy. Check with your veterinarian to see if there may be an essential oil that can cure what ails your pooch.
But, like with any natural therapy, be sure to approach it with caution and with the utmost respect for the details of the treatment.
More is not always better and should be considered the “MO” when dealing with the power of essential oils.