Just as aromatherapy can benefit humans both physically and psychologically, it can also benefit dogs.
It is important to remember that the essential oils blends and aromatherapy that human beings can handle and enjoy, might not produce the same reaction in our pets. In fact, some oils can be quite dangerous.
Plants manufacture oils for many reasons. Plants cannot move and escape predators and infectious threats, so they produce compounds that neutralize or repel pests and pathogens.
Essential oils are absorbed by inhalation and contact with the skin. They rapidly enter the body and the blood stream and are distributed to various tissues. As with all compounds, some chemicals have a biological affinity for specific tissues and those knowledgeable about oil use — can use this property to select oils that will target specific tissues.
The compounds present in essential oils are powerful. Very small amounts of these substances can have powerful biological effects on every system of the body. For example, lavender oil has powerful effects on the brain and creates a calming sensation. Small amounts of lavender oil can be used when traveling to calm pets or make them feel sleepy.
Some Safe Oils To Consider
Always tell your veterinarian what natural products your pet is using and involve him or her in these decisions. The following oils can be used in first aid and are safe for short-term use:
While oils are useful in healing they are powerful and can cause a wide variety of adverse effects. Principles of safe use are recommended.
The largest problem with essential oils is that they may contain contaminates or adulterants that make more serious issues arise. For this reason, one should only use therapeutic grade oils from reputable companies and verify the quality of oils before using them.
Animals have sensitive senses of smell, so in most cases it is best to use oils that are diluted and always provide an escape route. If a pet does not like an oil do not enforce its use.
Cats are particularly at risk for oil reactions and in most cases we use oils very sparingly on cats. One drop of essential oil diluted in 50 drops of a pure carrier oil such as grape seed oil is usually sufficient.
Some essential oils can cause liver and kidney toxicity in sensitive species. Cats use a different system in their liver to detoxify and are particularly sensitive to the so-called “hot” oils like cinnamon, oregano, clove, wintergreen, thyme and birch, which are oils that should be avoided in cats.
Cats should not receive tea tree oil, and never put essential oils into the ear canal as they can damage cats’ delicate ear drums and nerves. Care is needed around eyes as well. Always wash your hands after handling oils to prevent accidentally getting them into your eyes.
A hydrosol is a water-based substance which is a by-product obtained during the steam distillation process of an essential oil. A hydrosol contains water-soluble parts of a plant as well as very small amount of some essential oil components.
Since hydrosols are not highly concentrated like essential oils, they can be used undiluted as is, or essential oils can be added to a hydrosol for synergistic effects. For extremely sensitive dogs, small dogs, and cats, hydrosols are good alternatives to the more potent essential oils. (Cats are especially sensitive to essential oils so it is better to use hydrosols on cats.)