Basically, a multipurpose aromatherapy first aid kit for your fur baby…
Lavender essential oil has long been used by aromatherapists to reduce stress. Renowned as the Queen of Calm, it relieves anxiety, helps you sleep and lifts your mood. You know it gives you relief, but did you know lavender can also help de-stress and calm your anxious dog - and do so safely?
One of the gentlest pet-safe essential oils, lavender oil could quickly become your dog’s new BFF (and yours). It can not only quiet a nervous and agitated pooch, but also help them sleep better - and can even cheer up a depressed pet.
Add to this several other benefits like soothing skin allergies, easing pain, as well as fending off ticks and fleas, and you can see how lavender can quickly become a must-have essential in your fur baby’s first aid kit…
WHY USE LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL FOR YOUR DOG?
You’re probably already using a whole bunch of grooming, deodorizing, tick and flea repellents - and more - on your dog. And if your furry friend suffers from other issues such as anxiety, motion sickness, insomnia, or even allergies, it’s sure bet that, at some stage, you’ve also been off to your veterinarian for some medication to help.
What if you knew that lavender essential oil is a true little multitasker that can do all of these things? Lavender essential oil has been used in aromatherapy for hundreds of years to successfully help with a wide variety of ailments – which has been proven in numerous scientific studies.
One of the gentlest oils around, lavender is well-known as natural sedative, calming and soothing the nerves, easing depression and promoting deeper and more restful sleep. But less well known is that it can also soothe pain from small wounds, burns and bites, treat dry, itchy skin, and is a natural bug repellent (insects hate its smell). The fact that it also has a wonderful scent is just the cherry on the top…
BUT IS LAVENDER OIL SAFE FOR DOGS?
So, what’s good for humans should be good for dogs too, right? Well – yes and no…
First off, lavender essential oil is absolutely safe and gentle enough to help treat dogs. But with your furry friend, you just need to take a little more care.
Essential oils are extremely potent - about 3 pounds of lavender flowers are needed to produce just 15ml of lavender essential oil – and this, together with a whole host of biologically active and powerful compounds, can present some potential challenges when it comes to our four-legged companions…
Their Sense of Smell
For instance, dogs have a significantly higher sense of smell than you. It’s been estimated that dogs can smell anywhere from 1 000 to 10 000 times better than people. It’s their primary sense (yours is sight) so no wonder they permanently have their noses to the ground. What is a delicate scent for you can become an aggressive assault to their senses. Diluting the essential oil is therefore super important when using lavender with dogs.
The Size, Age and Health of Dog
Dogs are also a lot smaller and weigh quite a bit less than their humans. While they can safely inhale lavender essential oil and also absorb it through their skin when applied topically, their little bodies are way less able to deal with human sized doses. This is where it can become tricky as the breed, size, age and health of your dog would all guide you as to the right dosage and dilution levels for your pet. Consult a holistic vet if you’re unsure.
Their Metabolic System
Aside from their smaller size, a dog’s metabolism also differs dramatically from people. So, you definitely do not want your dog to ingest essential oil in any form – in food, water or even licking it off their skin. And you certainly don’t want to leave any essential oil lying around where your dog could accidentally lap it up. It could make them very sick.
Choosing only a 100% pure high-quality lavender essential oil for use on your dog is also important. Many products masquerade as essential oils but in reality, are just perfumes that smell nice but will not work as an essential oil does – and could cause harm. Look out for the Latin name, Lavandula Angustifolia, on the bottle, and make sure you buy from a reputable company.
BENEFITS & USES OF LAVENDER OIL FOR DOGS
When used safely and correctly, lavender essential oil has a number of health-giving benefits as a natural sedative, itch-soother and antibacterial that will make both you and your dog’s life easier…
Calming and Comforting Your Dog
Nothing is more heart breaking than seeing your beloved pet fearful or anxious. Fireworks, thunder, car rides, separation from their favorite person and being left alone are the most common triggers. This often grows worse as they get older when their physical and mental health starts to deteriorate. You may also have a hyperactive dog who has more energy than you can cope with and can be difficult to calm down.
Well known for its incredible calming properties for humans, lavender is one of the best essential oils to use with an anxious, depressed or hyperactive pup - and is also an excellent sleep aid if your dog has insomnia. It can be used to condition dogs to a safe space too.
It’s calming sedative-like effects were confirmed in a 2006 study with dogs who had a history of car ride anxiety which found that they spent significantly more time resting and sitting and less time moving and vocalizing when exposed to the scent. Another study on diffusing lavender in a dog shelter showed similar results.
Soothing Skin Allergies, Small Burns and Wounds
Is your dog always scratching? It’s possible they may have allergic dermatitis. A powerful natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, lavender essential oil can help soothe your pets red, irritated and itchy skin. Together with its anti-bacterial properties, lavender can also be useful for sun or skin burns, small cuts and wounds and bug bites. It even helps soothe and restore dry skin.
Helping Reduce Pain
If your pet is experiencing any pain, whether it be stiff, arthritic joints or from an injury, lavender essential oil can help here too. Many human studies such as this one have shown it to be effective at helping to relieve pain.
Acting as An Insect Repellent
While lavender essential oil won’t kill bugs, they absolutely hate the smell – on both humans and dogs. So, if your dog has an issue with fleas and ticks, or is attacked by mosquitos or gnats whenever you head outside, spraying on some diluted lavender oil will help chase pests away.
Controlling Dog Odor
Lavender’s benefits don’t stop at its medicinal properties. Its gentle floral aroma is also a very effective way to stop pet odor in its tracks. Lavender has a great scent that you will love too.
Did You Know Lavender Is Proven to Reduce Anxiety - Quickly and Safely? - Read More
HOW TO SAFELY USE LAVENDER OIL FOR YOUR DOG
It takes just one or two sniffs of lavender oil to quickly get absorbed into the bloodstream and start working within seconds. But remember that lavender essential oil is very potent. While you can safely take a few sniffs direct out of the bottle and it’s even gentle enough to be applied directly onto your skin, you have to be a lot more cautious with your pet.
There are however many safe ways you can use lavender essential oil for your furry friend…
Diffusing is one of the simplest ways to create a calming and comforting environment for your anxious, depressed or overactive pet, but it’s important that you don’t overdo it.
For humans, it’s recommended that you don’t diffuse for longer than an hour at a time. For your much smaller companion, you should reduce this to 10 minutes a session followed by a 30-minute break. Start off with just one or two of drops of lavender essential oil in a water-based diffuser, then check with your vet if the size, age and health of your pet can handle more.
If you’re already regularly diffusing essential oils in your home, you need to be aware that your normal ‘human’ dilution levels are probably way too strong for your dog, and you could be using oils which are not recommended for pets – both of which can cause long term harm to your furry friend. Use pet-safe oils like lavender, keep rooms well aerated and dilution levels low.
Before you apply lavender oil to your dog’s fur or skin, be sure to properly dilute it first.
A safe bet is starting with a single drop of lavender essential oil in 50 drops of carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut or jojoba oil. Another rough guideline is to add about 3-6 drops of essential oil to 1 fluid oz. (6 teaspoons) of carrier oil – varying the amount of oil depending upon the breed, size, age and health of your dog. If you’re unsure about dilution levels for your pet, it’s best to consult your vet to be safe rather than sorry.
A gentle massage with diluted lavender oil can help ease any joint pain as well as soothe irritated and itchy skin. You can also place a drop on the back of the neck and the base of the tail to effectively repel ticks and fleas, and other pests. Otherwise apply a little of the dilution to your hands and lightly massage it onto your dog’s neck and back.
Holistic vets also use anti-bacterial lavender infusions to wash out wounds, treat burns and reduce itchiness and scratching. Simply make a lavender tea rinse using 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried lavender flowers in 8 fluid oz. of boiling water, allow to steep for a few minutes, and apply.
It’s pretty easy to introduce lavender into your dog’s environment so they can safely inhale it without the scent being too strong or invasive for their little bodies or sensitive noses.
To help soothe anxious dogs, those who struggle to sleep, are depressed or need calming down, simply add a couple drops of your diluted lavender oil to your dog’s collar, or on a neck bandana; on a cotton ball placed next to their bed or carrier - or directly onto their bedding.
If your pet is into cuddly toys, you can even add the adorable heatable Lavender Lucky The Dog to their love objects – while giving them the benefits of lavender too.
Otherwise, try this calming pet bed filled with high quality lavender buds which, when warmed in the microwave, not only help your dog to calm down and sleep better, but the moist warmth together with healing lavender aromatherapy can also help a pooch in pain. And because you’re using the safer and gentler option of lavender flower aromatherapy as opposed to the highly concentrated oil, you’re far less likely to accidentally OD your dog. It helps that it looks super-cute too.
Instead of applying lavender essential oil direct to your dog’s collar or bedding, a far more convenient option is to make your own mist spray. Start slowly with one or two drops of lavender essential oil in 4 fluid oz. of distilled water in a glass spray bottle, and then gradually increase the dosage over time.
A mist spray can multitask as a bedding spray, be applied to the dog’s neck and back as a tick and flea repellent, used on small wounds or skin irritations, or as a room deodorizer (it will also smell nice on you too!).
LAVENDER FOR DOGS: THE COMMON SENSE SAFETY GUIDE
When treating your dog with lavender essential oil, carefully and gently is the name of the game. Here’s some simple precautions to take before and when you use lavender oil on your pet…
Always Speak to Your Holistic Vet First: Before you use lavender essential oil on your dog, check in with your vet to make sure there won’t be any interactions with any other products or treatments. They’ll also be able to advise on the correct dilution levels and usage instructions specifically for your pet – this is especially important if you have a pregnant, sick or aged dog, or a puppy under 10 weeks.
Check If They Like It: You don’t like every scent you smell, so it’s also possible your dog won’t either. Give your furry friend a chance to sniff a little diffused or diluted lavender oil (pure is too potent) and see how they react. If he turns away, runs out of the room or rubs his nose in the carpet, chances are that it’s either not diluted enough or a non-starter.
Only Use a Diluted Pure High-Grade Essential Oil: A high-quality brand of lavender essential oil is an absolute non-negotiable to avoid any unintentional poisoning. And always dilute to take the size, age and health of your pet into account. Again, consult your vet if you have any questions.
Start Slowly: When using lavender essential oil on your dog, always start with diluting at the lowest possible dose and gradually work your way up. Always check carefully for any side effects, signs of discomfort or allergic reactions - excessive scratching, sniffing, nervousness or whining are all signs to watch for - so you can either adjust the dosage or stop using the oil.
Spot Check on Skin: If using topically, it’s always better to apply a little diluted lavender oil on your dogs’ neck and leave for 24 hours to check for any reactions before use, particularly if your pet has sensitive skin.
The No Go’s - Safety First:
Never use oils near your dog’s eyes, mouth, nose, or genital area.
Never use undiluted essential oil on your pet.
Never allow your dog to ingest essential oil by licking or accidentally - always store essential oils and dilutions in a safe space where your dog won’t we able to reach them. Do not add to your pet’s food or water.
Never combine lavender with other essential oils unless you have checked with your vet that they are also pet-safe.
Never use essential oils on or near your cat without consulting a qualified practitioner - they are unable to metabolise them well which can cause a build-up of toxins in their body.
There Are Many Uses of Lavender Oil You May Not Know About – Read More
While the process may all sound a little overwhelming at first, if you’re looking for the best pet-safe essential oil, you can rest assured that lavender is one of the safest and gentlest to use for your fur baby…