Using Essential Oils with Canines. A how to guide
All domesticated dogs are linked to their wild counterparts, through instinct. While our dogs are not wild creatures (most of the time lol) they do possess the ability to use those hard-wired wild instincts for their health and well being. I am sure you have seen this with your own dogs, when they eat grass and then throw up. This is their instinct to help an upset stomach. Scientifically this is known as Zoopharmacognosy.
We control many things in our dogs’ lives, this is to keep their behavior agreeable to our lifestyle. This causes stress to some dogs. With Aromatherapy, we allow the dog to control the choices that they can make by instinctually choosing the oils that are right for them.
First choose 4 oils that you know will be good for the situation you are trying to alleviate, such as separation anxiety, itchy skin and so on. Lay them out on the floor and bring your dog over, and allow them to smell the bottles. Keep watch, I have seen dogs pick up the bottle and run off with it. No doubt this is the easiest way to know which oil the dog wants!
Present these oils to your dog, with the caps securely on. You will immediately notice your dog reacting to the oils in the following ways:
Aromatic Canine Responses:
Licking their face, or the air
Nosing, nudging or picking up the bottle
Eyes closing, and opening, slow blinking trying to lick the bottle
Backing away from the bottles
Decoding the dogs’ responses:
This is not a quick process, usually it takes several minutes of allowing the dog the time to process the information you are giving them. If they do numbers 1 through 3, I call this a positive response to a particular oil and open that oil bottle. Present that bottle to them, with a little distance between the bottle and your dogs nose. Do Not put it right in their face, unless they come that close to the bottle. Give your dog some time to settle in to the aroma. Remember their sense of smell is super charged compared to ours, and they need less of the oil to reap the benefits of it.
Watch your dogs reactions as you hold the bottle open near them. Give them space to back away from the oil bottle. If they are exhibiting curiosity let them explore the bottle in your hand. Open mouth and yawning, usually mean they are feeling a little stressed. Back away the bottle until the dog is more relaxed. One front foot up, ears back, head/eyes lowered, these are all unsure behaviors. Give the dog time to decide what it wants to do. If the dog backs away, turns away, tries to leave the room, then it is telling you it does not need any of those oils you have chosen. Try again with another selection of oils until you find one your dog chooses. Never force a dog to smell an oil. Never apply the oil to the dogs face or nose.
Inhalation is the most powerful, as the essential oils go straight into the brain via the olfactory system, altering the brain chemistry. Dogs often go into a trance, eyes flickering, or fall into a deep sleep. I have seen emotional problems clear up completely after one session like this.
Dogs are more likely to want the oils orally if they have a physical problem, or one that isn’t deeply rooted.
Often dogs will indicate by pointing at their body with their heads, stamping a foot, or moving into you. This tells you that they want the oil topically on a particular spot, many times an acupuncture point. In this case, rub a little diluted oil into the area indicated.
Now that your dog has chosen the oil (s) that it needs, you need to dilute them. Never apply oils neat (undiluted) to any small animal. Never give oils orally to your dog without working under the guidelines of a professional animal aromatherapist.
Dilution with a good carrier oil is needed. Carrier oils are any vegetable oil like olive, grapeseed, sunflower and the list goes on. You want a cold pressed, natural and organic carrier oil. My favorites are coconut oil and avocado oil. Choose your carrier oil and then add 1 to 3 drops into a teaspoon of carrier oil. Present this to your dog. Watch the dogs response to the diluted oil(s). If they try to eat it, they want it orally, look for the signs and signals mentioned previously in this article to determine how to administer the oils to your dog. Offer the oils once or twice a day until your dog loses interest. He will have a different response to each oil he has chosen and the responses will change daily. If his response is very strong, offer the oils twice a day, for a moderate interest offer once a day. Your dog will lose interest in the oils within approximately three days to a week, at which point you should see a marked change in the problem.
Remember less is more with essential oils and animals. Do not add more drops to carrier oil, no matter the size of the dog. I always suggest starting with 1 drop and adding after seeing the dogs reaction.
Only use quality essential oils, that you know have been tested for purity and non-synthetic elements. Choosing the right oil company is very important. Do not purchase your oils at the local grocery or retail stores. Higher quality oils cost more, because they are backed by company guarantees. Remember you are putting this on or around the dogs, and only want the best for them.
Never try to force a dog to use the oils. This has to be a natural selection. You may choose to diffuse first around your dog and watch the reaction. Do they stay in the room or leave the room and only re-enter after the diffusion has ended? Inhalation methods are very helpful. The oils pass through the diffuser, into the air, the dog smells them and the oils pass through the brain blood barrier, entering the blood stream to do their work. This is just as effective as topical application.
Resist the temptation to add essential oils to your dog’s food, apply them on the dog if he doesn’t want you to, or otherwise force him to take them. This can cause adverse reactions.
Take the time to bond with your dog through massage, get to know their responses and body cues. This will help them trust you and accept your help in guiding their natural instincts for a healthy happy long life.