Dogs & Oils – Part 1 How to introduce your dog to essential oils


If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll know that I love giving back to nature. When I’m not sharing my love of oils around the Planet, I’m a volunteer wildlife rescuer (and snakes are my specialty). But even though I LOVE our native wildlife, I also love our domestic animals. Ever since childhood, animals have been my best friends. So I live with my 3 fabulous black felines, who put stars in my eyes with their personalities and their antics.

Whether you have a passion for dogs or cats, it’s natural that you will have some questions about whether it’s safe to use essential oils around your animals….and whether there are any precautions you should be aware of.

Well, the great news is that many domestic animals benefit greatly from essential oils. But there are certain common-sense (and not so common-sense) safety precautions to be aware of.

I’ve previously done a 3 part series on essential oils for cats. Click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of those bulletins. 

Do Dogs like Essential Oils?

Many years ago, we had a US based Veterinarian come to Australia to teach us how to use essential oils on our animals. The most wonderful thing happened. We were teaching in Brisbane, and I had my full oils case open on the floor. That’s 130 different oils! Our “demo dog” Holly came in with her owner, who was already an oil user (meaning her dog was comfortable being around essential oils).

Holly raced over to my oils case, and rolled on it! That’s right! She did the full roll-over, so her entire back was exposed to my oils case and all those scrumptious aromas…and she rolled back and forth in glee! Now, that was one very aromatic dog by the end of her roll.

Of course the lids were on all the bottles, but the aroma was easily smelt. That picture paints a thousand words of how much Holly loved our Young Living essential oils. She’s now nearly 15 years old, and still loves our oils!

I’ve heard over and over again about dogs that just love essential oils. Some of them will even go up to your oils collection and use their nose to point out the essential oil that they want! We call that “self selection”. Like children, they have an innate sense of knowing around which oils or plants are the right ones for them.

Click here to read our previous bulletin on how dogs can self-select essential oils…

But not all dogs love oils. Some dogs (just like some humans) don’t like the strong smells, and they’ll bolt as soon as you bring an oil near them.

I remember once putting some Panaway oil (a very pungent blend of Clove, Wintergreen, Peppermint and Helichrysum oil) onto the front paws of two Whippets. Their owner contacted me that evening, saying that her dogs were unsettled….and I learned a valuable lesson that day. Putting the smelly oils on their front paws meant that they couldn’t get away from the smell. It was too much too soon for them, and I’m pretty sure I put them off essential oils for life!

That’s why the way in which you introduce your dog to essential oils is so important.

Did you know?

A dog’s nose is its primary sense. Unlike people, dogs depend mostly on their nose to interpret their environment, to communicate, discover things, and even to read the emotions of the humans around them.

Because of this, their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more than that of a human!

Where we have a mere 5 to 6 million olfactory receptors, dogs have 220 to 300+ million. And it’s not just that they have more receptors. The part of their brain responsible for analyzing and processing scents is forty times better than ours. They have this amazing ability to pick up any scent, even very faint ones, and trace their origins.
This means they can detect explosives, drugs….and even cancer cells, simply using their noses and brain!

And even though their smell is better than humans, their eyesight is as well! The average dog can spot objects that are 4,800 km away (that’s 3,000 miles), and even more for sighthounds like Whippets! Wow!!!

Introducing your dog to essential oils the right way

So with that amazing knowledge under your belt, let’s now look at the right way to introduce a dog to essential oils. Because let’s face it, most dogs end up absolutely loving essential oils…especially if they are introduced to them in a positive and pampering way.
Step 1: Choose a calming oil like Peace & Calming, Lavender, Geranium, Frankincense, Valor, Stress Away or the AnimalScents Pet Care oil. Stand a few metres from your dog, put a drop on your palm, rub your palms together, and hold them out for your dog to smell.
Be patient while it checks out this exciting new odour. It may even lick your palms.

If your dog comes to you to investigate, you can gently stroke your palms over their coat, and give them a beautiful massage over their ears and back to create a positive association between the aroma and the love!

While we’d never put essential oils directly into the ear canal of our dog, as that may risk the oil burning the ear drum, rubbing essential oils on the outside and inside of their ear flap is one great place to put it, and so is under their paws and up their spine!

Repeat this each day, and once they are used to the oils being put on your palms and then stroked into their fur, you can experiment with putting 1 to 2 drops directly onto their fur, and massaging it in. Apply the drops under their paws or on their back, so it’s not too close to their nose.

But if your dog is shy or uncertain about the smell, simply walk away, wash your hands, and repeat Step 1 in a few days’ time. You can alternatively put the essential oils on yourself as your perfume, so that over time your dog becomes used to their smell on you, or you can use a small number of drops in your diffuser (Step 2).

Step 2: Start with 5 drops of essential oil in your diffuser. Set it up in an open plan space where your dog can move in and out of the room where the diffuser is running. You never want them to feel trapped with the smell and unable to escape it. Observe your dog’s response over the next hour or two. If your dogs is completely comfortable being around the diffuser, you can play in the coming days with different types of oils, and even with increasing the number of drops. Whatever changes you make, do it slowly and with awareness of your dog’s behaviour.

It will tell you what it likes, and what it doesn’t like!!!

The best diffuser to use around animals is an ultrasonic diffuser, such as Young Living’s Lantern, Desert Mist, Dewdrop, Aria, Rainstone, Lustra, Lucia and Feather the Owl diffuser. These have an ultrasonic plate that vibrates at 1.7 million times a second in order to turn the liquid (oil and water) into vapour.
To operate them, you simply fill the vessel with water, add your favourite essential oil blend, and turn the diffuser on. Within seconds you’ll see aromatic water misting out of your diffuser. Because no heat is used, the beneficial constituents of the essential oil are preserved.

The Do’s and Don’ts of using Essential oils on Dogs

Remember that your dog’s sense of smell is so much more acute than yours, so avoid placing essential oils directly under your dog’s nose, or diffusing in a confined space. And as with humans, always start with less and build up. Follow the steps above to create a positive association for your dog with essential oils. If possible, avoid making the first experience of essential oils coincide with a frightening event. If you make the positive association first in a relaxed environment, then when a stressful situation does arise, the oils will help your dog to remember relaxation and calmness.

And make sure that you are using a quality essential oil. Most essential oil brands contain synthetic additives which can be harmful or toxic to your dog.

The Young Living oils are guaranteed pure, unadulterated and therapeutic-grade, so you know you have the best and safest oils for you and your dog.

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Avoid dripping oils into your dog’s eyes or ear canal, or applying to broken, sensitive or irritated skin. Check their skin regularly after application. As with humans, if any irritation occurs, immediately apply a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil, or 
Young Living’s V6 oil liberally over the top.

Citrus oils and blends containing citrus (such as Orange, Peace & Calming, Joy and Stress Away) should be put on skin that will be protected from sunlight and/or UV light for 12 to 24 hours – eg. under belly, paws or on areas sheltered by thick fur. These oils make the skin sensitive to UV light, and exposure can cause skin damage.

Click here to read Dogs & Oils – Part 2

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