I’ve personally used many types of essential oils for my dogs and today I want to share with you what they are, where they come from and how to safely use them so that you and your dog have a positive outcome!
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential Oils For Dogs can be a potent and effective treatment for many dog conditions that are typically treated with conventional drugs which can have many side effects.
Essential oils are extracted from plants like lavender, peppermint, and many other plant varieties, which have therapeutic and medicinal compounds
There are at least two ways to extract the essential oils from plants. In doing so, one can capture the “essence” of the plant which each have their own unique characteristics.
The quality and purity of the essential oil are one of the most important factors in the effectiveness of the oil. There are many debates as to what the best method of extraction is but here are the top 2 most popular ways essential oil is extracted from plants:
- Steam distillation – this is the most common way to extract the oil. During the process, steam passes through the plant material using a combination of heated steam and gentle pressure which causes the essential oil to be released from microscopic sacs. As the vapor cools, it creates a mixture of oil and a layer of water. Because oil rises above water it is easy to collect the oil at this point.
- Cold-Press – some argue that heat can damage the oil. Cold-pressed essential oils do not involve heat. Instead, mechanical pressure is used to express and extract all of the oils from the plant. If the artisan or manufacturer has experience in this method, I prefer cold-pressed oils.
Each essential oil has its own unique purpose. Keep reading to learn which essential oils are safe for your dog and which to use for the specific symptoms you are trying to treat in your dog.
Are Essential Oils Safe For Dogs?
Essential oils are potent and powerful.
If applied correctly, essential oils are safe for dogs. I rarely administer essential oils orally (with a few careful exceptions which I’ll explain later).
I would say many dog owners do not fully understand or are even aware of the benefits of essential oils for dogs. But because you’ve found this article, you must be interested in learning about how to effectively use these amazing oils.
But before you begin using these essential oils in your daily regime for your dog, you may be asking: “are essential oils toxic or dangerous for dogs”?
Are Essential Oils Toxic To Dogs?
Essential oil toxicity in dogs is rare. But here are a few essential oils that may be more harmful to dogs than others:
- Tea Tree
- Peppermint (Peppermint is a potent essential oil but it can be used in dogs if carefully administered – more on that later)
Symptoms of essential oil toxicity or poisoning in dogs:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue and weakness
- Muscle tremors
- Redness or burns on their lips, tongue, or gums
How To Use Essential Oils On Dogs
Before you give any essential oil to your dog, it’s important that you dilute the oil properly (here is a good guide on diluting the essential oil).
Consider these tips before you give any essential oil to your dog:
- Dogs are more sensitive to essential oils than humans. For example, one sniff of peppermint oil and my dogs run away. A dog’s sense of smell is far greaterthan that of a human, so if the aroma is strong to your nose, it’s 100 times stronger to your dog’s nose.
- You must be careful that your dog does not inhale the essential oil as this is going to cause the most problems. And your dog may never get near you again if he smells the oil.
- It’s probably not a good idea to add essential oils to your dog’s drinking water – he probably will avoid drinking altogether.
- With puppies under the age of 12 weeks, I would stay away from using essential oils.
- Try diluting the oil and apply it to your hand. Allow your dog to sniff it before administering it. If it’s a potent oil like peppermint, most likely he will turn away. But don’t let that discourage you from using essential oils for the conditions outlined here in this article.
Essential oils have been used for centuries since biblical times and are not merely a trend. Regardless of which you choose to use, you must use them with care and awareness of their potency.
Depending on what condition you are trying to solve, there are several ways to apply essential oils to dogs.
I always have a jar of coconut oil in the house and it makes a good carrier oil to mix with your essential oils.
You can apply essential oils topically to your dog. For example, you can apply peppermint oil as a topical anesthetic, catnip oil to repel mites in your dog’s ears, or St John’s Wort (botanically known as Hypericum perforatum) to relieve ear pain.
You may also diffuse essential oil in your home or room where you and your dog like to rest. This can create a calming and “zen” effect which really helps dogs with anxiety problems.
If you make a homemade dog toothpaste, you can add one or two drops of essential peppermint oil (this is one way I administer essential oil orally to my dogs).
Why Essential Oil Purity Is Important
Please note that while essential oils are very useful for a variety of dog problems, some contain no antioxidant compounds to sustain storage or long shelf life.
The compounds can become oxidized when stored and cause allergic responses in your dog when applied. So make sure your oil is high quality (organic preferably) and hasn’t been sitting in your cupboard near light, heat or has been exposed to oxygen for any length of time.
Essential Oils For Calming Dogs
One of my favorite ways to calm a dog down is to use the essential oil of Lavender. The best way I’ve found to do this is by using an essential oil diffuser.
Lavender is the perfect essential oil to calm dogs with anxiety. I like to diffuse lavender in the room where my dogs and I can just chill.
Science shows that essential oil of lavender consists of 2 primary terpenoid constituents, linalool and linalyl acetate, which may produce the calming effect.
Essential Oils For Dogs With Arthritis
No one likes to see their pooch in pain. Arthritis can occur at any dog age but is usually common in senior dogs. To control symptoms of arthritis and inflammation, many vets use conventional medications like NSAIDs and corticosteroids.
While these drugs are approved for safe usage on dogs, there are some side effects. Older dogs are more vulnerable to these side effects as their bodies become weaker as they age.
Essential oils can be one possible alternative to NSAIDs and conventional treatment in dogs with arthritis.
Here are some examples of pain relieving essential oils that help ease the pain and reduce swelling and inflammation:
- St. John’s Wort
- Oil of Oregano (this is a HOT oil so please be mindful this it’s extremely potent. More on this later).
Out of this list, oil of oregano and St. John’s Wort I’ve found to work best for topical pain relief.
Again, be very careful if you use any essential oils on your dogs are they can be very strong and may cause skin irritations. In addition to these essential oils listed for dogs with arthritis, you can also try hemp or CBD oil which can be taken internally. Pure arnica oil may also be a possible solution for pain relief in dogs.
Elemi Essential Oil is also a good solution for soothing sore muscles after exercise. Elemi oil is a relative of Myrrh and has been used for centuries for its ability to rejuvenate and restore healthy skin. Elemi is anti-infectious, antiseptic and can work as a sedative. It can be applied topically, orally or diffused.
Essential Oils For Itchy Dog Ears
Therapeutic grade essential oils are perfect for cleaning a dogs ear. They are natural, calming and help to soothe and rejuvenate the skin. If your dog’s ears are smelly or he’s constantly itching his ears, the next time you give him a bath try adding some of these essential oils to your dog’s shampoo (or find a shampoo formula with essential oils):
- Lavender essential oil – calming and antiseptic.
- Bergamot essential oil – A natural deodorant, antibiotic, antiseptic and a sedative. It acts as a disinfectant.
How to use essential oils to clean your dogs ear:
- Start with a base carrier oil (coconut oil or olive oil is fine).
- You’ll need some cotton swabs.
- Pick your favorite essential oil.
- Add a teaspoon of oil and 3-5 drops of essential oil.
- Apply the mixture to your cotton swab.
- Begin applying the swab to the outer part of your dog’s ear flap to remove dirt and wax BUT PLEASE be careful not to push the cotton swab deep into the inner ear canal of your dog to cause injury!
Essential Oils For Dog Ear Infection
The symptoms of a dog ear infection are obvious as you may start to see your dog shaking or tilting his head. He also may rub his head on the floor or furniture.
If you look in his ear you may find:
- Brown discharge
- Red skin inflammation
- Smelly odor
- Crusts or scabs
What causes a dog ear infection? There are several causes including:
- Allergies or Hormonal imbalances
Mullein essential oil for dog ear infections
Mullein has antibacterial properties and works great for dog ear infections that are caused by bacteria. You can use a dropper to apply 2-3 drops inside of your dog’s ear or simply apply it to a cotton swab and apply to your dog’s ear as needed.
Oregano Oil for Dog Ear Infection
Oregano oil is one of my favorite oils. I keep a bottle available at all times in my house. It is incredibly versatile and extremely POTENT and powerful.
The active ingredient Carvacrol is why this oil is a true antibiotic (without the side effects).
notes about oil of oregano:
- Make sure you get wild Mediterranean oil only as it has the compound Carvacrol which is responsible for much of the oil’s healing properties.
- Oil of oregano is HOT! Please avoid touching your dogs lips or mouth. If you do apply orally it must be diluted with Olive Oil and in small doses.
If you get my favorite brand of Wild Oregano Oil, all you need to do is apply some to a cotton swab or mix in the oil into the palm of your hand then gently massage it into your dog’s ear. You can also rub it on his skin or belly.
A word of caution: oregano oil is a spicy and hot oil. Your dog will not like its smell. Be careful when applying it. But it is highly effective and I’ve used it as a natural antibiotic for years. If my dog won’t eat or is feeling down, one lick or sniff of this oil and he will eat anything!
Essential Oils For Dog Ear Mites
If your dog has ear mites, Susan Wynne DVM and Steve Marsden DVM in their Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine recommend first cleaning the ears with mineral oil or olive oil to remove as much debris as possible. The oil can help asphyxiate the mites. Do this treatment every 3 days for 2 weeks because ear mite eggs hatch every 4 days.
What essential oil is good for ear mites in Dogs?
You can add one or two drops of an essential oil to the ear cleaning oil to help with mite control and itching:
- Peppermint oil has a topical anesthetic effect
- Catnip oil may help control or repel the mites
- Hypericum oil relieves ear pain
- Calendula oil helps heal the ear surfaces
Cedarwood Essential Oil For Dogs With Ticks And Fleas
There are few things I dislike more in this world than Ticks and Fleas. Mosquitoes are on that list too.
Because I live in a very hot and humid climate, these critters are a constant threat to my dogs.
I’ve found cedarwood essential oil to be one of the best ways to kill Ticks. Fleas don’t like it either and is why some natural flea and tick sprays and shampoos use it as a primary ingredient in their formulas.
Cedarwood essential oil is toxic to ticks but SAFE for your dog – just don’t get any around his nose, eyes or mouth.
Cedarwood oil kills ticks in several ways. I encourage you read this article for the science behind why it works – but trust me, it works!
I suggest you try a flea and tick spray that contains cedarwood oil as the active ingredient. This is one I’ve used and it works.
Essential oils have been used for centuries and can be an alternative solution to many conventional veterinarian solutions. Each plant the oil is extracted from contain a very specific function. I hope this article has outlined some of the benefits of essential oils for dogs and how to use them. Please be very mindful and careful when applying these powerful essential oils to your dog and follow the safety guidelines I’ve mentioned. If you do that, you and your dog will be off to a great start in helping him with his condition.
Have you used essential oils on your dog? Do you have questions? Please leave a comment below!