What You Should Know When Using Essential Oils for Dogs
Essential oils are a wonderful tool to support your dog’s health naturally. Consult with a Holistic Vet, Certified Aromatherapist, or use other reliable sources to find the perfect oils for your dog to support his or her vitality, overall health, skin, muscles and bones, digestive system, respiratory system, and emotional wellness.
This article covers some general safety tips when using essential oils with dogs.
Use Only 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
The quality of an essential oil greatly impacts how safe it is to use and also how effective it will be. You will see the greatest results when using 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils. Please read my article on essential oil quality and safety to see whether the essential oils you are using are of therapeutic, medicinal grade quality – read article.
Dilute Essential Oils According to Your Dog’s Size
Dogs tolerate essential oils generally well but they vary greatly in size. Use small amounts of essential oil and dilute with fractionated coconut oil or other carrier oil according to your dogs weight. I personally use the guideline for use of essential oils for children, for diluting essential oils for dogs. For example, if your dog weighs less than 20 pounds, I will use the dilution ratio for babies, of 0.5%.
Here is a general guideline for dilution ratios (for a 10ml bottle with fractionated coconut oil)
Up to 25 pounds: add 1 drop of essential oil = 0.5% dilution
20 pounds to 50 pounds: add 2 drops of essential oil = 1% dilution
50-90 pounds: add 4 drops of essential oil = 2% dilution
over 90 pounds: add 6 drops of essential oils = 3% dilution
Tip: Prepare your diluted oil in a glass bottle. Depending on what you want to address chose a bottle with an orifice diffuser, roll-on bottle, or small fine mist spray bottle (always make sure to avoid eyes, inner ears, and other sensitive body parts – see below). Always blend your oils according to your dog’s weight. Dilute even more for toy breeds, old dogs, and skin sensitive dogs. Be very cautious with puppies under 10 weeks of age, old dogs, and pregnant dogs.
Listen to Your Dog
Dogs usually love essential oils. They often perk up as soon as you open an essential oil bottle. When first introducing a new essential oil to your dog, let your dog sniff the essential oil from your hands first. If your dog starts drooling, whining or runs away use another oil that has similar properties and your dog reacts positively to. There are many essential oils that have similar chemical compositions and can achieve the same results. Choose an essential oil your dog likes, they will be drawn to what is good for them.
Areas to Avoid
Certain body parts should be avoided as an essential oil could cause irritation. Keep essential oils away from eyes, nose, inner ears, anal area, and genital areas. If you accidentally get some essential oil on a sensitive area, flush with milk or wipe off with a cloth soaked in another oil (vegetable oil, olive oil, etc).
Essential Oils You Should NOT Use Daily AND with Caution
Best results with essential oils are achieved when incorporated into a daily routine (see below about taking breaks) but there are certain essential oils that should not be used daily.
Essential oils you should only use occasionally are Wintergreen, Thyme, Clove, Cassia, Camphor, and Oregano.
Melaleuca Essential Oil (also commonly known as Tea Tree Essential Oil) has Phenolic compounds that can be more difficult for a dog’s body to process. The oral toxic dose of phenol in dogs is about 0.22 grams per pound of body weight. 4 drops of Melaleuca are equivalent to about 0.22 grams. So Melaleuca can be toxic in high doses but personally, as an Aromatherapist, I do not recommend using Melaleuca / Tea Tree essential oils with dogs.
There are special considerations when using Eucalyptus essential oils around dogs.
Eucalyptus, when ingested in sufficient amounts, can be an irritant to the gastrointestinal system and cause discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is also a neurotoxin and can cause neurological symptoms as well, such as depression, confusion, and seizures. If your dog has INGESTED any part of eucalyptus plant or product containing eucalyptus, it is important to visit a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
So be cautious when using Eucalyptus essential oil for yourself, making sure the dog does not lick your hands or any body part you applied an Eucalyptus essential oil to or a product containing Eucalyptus.
When it comes to DIFFUSING Eucalyptus in a home with dogs, make sure it is Eucalyptus radiata (there are over 900 species of Euclyptus) and that it is of therapeutic, medicinal grade quality. There are so many cheap essential oils on the market that contain chemicals from solvent extraction such as hexane or acetone, pesticides, microbes, mold spores, and other toxic components (read article about essential oil quality). Make sure when diffusing essential oils around pets, that the area is well ventilated, and LISTEN to your dog. If your dog leaves the room when you diffuse a particular essential oil, your dog is telling you that it is not good for him or her. When they are drawn to you wearing a certain essential oil or lay near the diffuser, their body is telling them, it will be good for them.
What to Consider When Starting to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils support the body in ridding it of toxins. Keep in mind, as we do with humans, that if a dog is toxic from medications or has not been on a natural raw food diet then it is best to use less essential oil at first. As with humans, the essential oils will support the body in shedding out toxins. When too many toxins are shed out too quickly it might make your dog not feel well.
Taking Breaks is Important!
Make sure to take BREAKS! My general suggestion is after 7 days take 2-3 break, then repeat cycle if necessary; after using an essential oil for 2-3 cycles take one week break.
As with everything in life, use good common sense, pick the highest quality essential oils, and consult with a person who has experience with using essential oils (holistic veterinarian or certified aromatherapist) to get the best results incorporating them into your dog’s care.