Essential Oils

Aromatherapy For Dog Anxiety – Does It Work & Is It Safe?

Updated on 5 January 2021 • 3 minute read
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Overview 

You’re not the only one who gets stressed out and anxious. 

Your furry family member can also feel that way too! 

Here are some things that can increase or contribute to a dog’s anxiety: 

  • Thunderstorms
  • Fireworks
  • Travel 
  • Trips to the groomer
  • Large crowds
  • Separation anxiety 
  • Kennel training 

Essential oils and aromatherapy may be a suitable and safe natural option to help calm your pup’s nerves – if you proceed with caution. 

Make sure you use only high-quality essential oils that are undiluted and unadulterated. 

Keep in mind that dogs are extra sensitive to smells and aromatic chemicals. 

This is because your dog’s olfactory system is upwards of 100,000 times stronger than yours scientists say. (1) 

Keep reading to learn which oils are safe and which are dangerous and toxic for your pup. 

 

What Are Essential Oils? 

Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts that come from tree resin and bark, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts, and fruit. 

It’s believed that EOs contain many beneficial active compounds that interact with the body in ways that promote healing, well-being, and balance. 

Many of the world’s greatest cultures and healing arts have been using essential oils (EOs) in some form for hundreds of years because of their medicinal properties. 

Recently, there’s been increased interest in the use of oils and hydrosols (flower waters) as a way to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, calm the nervous system, improve sleep, improve pain, and alleviate headaches.

 

Is Aromatherapy Safe For Dogs? 

If EOs can be beneficial and healing for humans does that mean that they provide similar benefits to cats and dogs? 

Well, some would say the answer is both yes and no. 

Some veterinarians suggest abstaining from using EOs on your dog entirely, and other holistic veterinarians actually use EOs as part of some of their treatment plans. 

The use of essential oils like tea tree and clove can cause irritation and toxic reactions in dogs. 

This is because a dog’s liver isn’t able to metabolize (break down) the compounds in EOs in the same way that human bodies can. 

Extreme care should be used when exposing your anxious dog to EOs. 

 

The Most Calming & Safe Essential Oils For Dogs 

  • Lavender – aka the ‘peace & calming’ oil
  • Chamomile – a soothing and gentle oil
  • Frankincense – a potent healing oil 
  • Cedarwood – a grounding oil 
  • Sweet marjoram – an uplifting oil 

* Although not an essential oil, CBD oil may also have calming effects on pets and their behavior. (2) 

 

Unsafe Essential Oils For Dogs

The following are considered unsafe and toxic oils for dogs according to several veterinarians:

  • Tea tree oil (melaleuca)
  • Wintergreen oil
  • Oregano oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Pennyroyal oil 
  • Sweet birch oil
  • Ylang-ylang oil 
  • Pine oils 
  • Peppermint oil
  • Geranium oil 
  • Yarrow oil
  • Citrus oils (lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, bergamot)
  • Clove oil
  • Cinnamon oil 

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility and duty to do your best for your pup. 

Avoid these oils at all costs and always consult with your vet before introducing any essential oil into your dog’s life. 

 

How To Use Essential Oils For Dog Anxiety Safely

EOs are very concentrated and potent. 

Only use 1-3 drops maximum at a time. 

Always dilute EOs with a carrier oil. 

(Undiluted oils can be too strong for your dog.) 

Check with your vet first before using these safer oils. 

Monitor your dog’s reactions after introducing new oils and stop use immediately if adverse symptoms occur. 

Just because an oil is thought to be safe doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will tolerate it. 

Watch out for symptoms like: 

  • Drooling or increased saliva production
  • Tremors/ muscle tremors
  • Low body temperature
  • Difficulty breathing/ respiratory issues 
  • Liver failure/ liver damage
  • Fast breathing rate
  • Trouble walking
  • Skin rashes or redness 
  • Changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Not wanting to play
  • Digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation

Only use therapeutic-grade essential oils. 

Be mindful when diffusing EOs, make sure the room is properly ventilated, and that your dog is in another room when adding toxic oils to your diffuser. 

 

DIY Calming Doggy Spritz Essential Oil Recipe 

This essential oil blend can be used on the go or whenever needed. 

You can lightly spritz your pup’s coat or apply some to your palms and gently rub your dog’s ear flaps. 

You can also lightly mist your dog’s bedding or their favorite blankets. 

What you’ll need: 

  • A dark glass bottle, preferably a spray bottle 
  • 5 drops of lavender 
  • 5 drops of chamomile 
  • 5 drops of cedarwood
  • 3 drops of frankincense 
  • 3 tablespoons of organic witch hazel 
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water

 

References

(1) https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/dogs-sense-of-smell/

(2) https://cbdclinicals.com/cbd-dosage-for-dogs/

 

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