If your dog suffers from anxiety, it’s natural for owners to pursue everything they can to help keep them calm. One way to help alleviate dog anxiety is the use of aromatherapy. Since canines have over 40 times more scent receptors than humans, they can be very receptive to aromatherapy.
Here we explain more about aromatherapy and how using essential oils can diminish dog anxiety and help keep your four-legged friend calm.
Aromatherapy to Relieve Dog Anxiety
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to help create an improved sense of well-being. In the case of dog anxiety, essential oils found in various sources from nature such as rind, flowers and leaves, roots, and resins, help create different moods, including a sense of calm. Essential oils are key to successful aromatherapy as synthetically produced fragrances do not have therapeutic properties.
Scents can help affect mood because the olfactory bulb is linked to the limbic system. This is the system responsible for memory and emotion, among other things. As a result, when scent molecules enter the lungs, they reach the bloodstream providing various responses. Certain physiological responses can include a calming effect. Essential oils can be inhaled and used as a topical solution to enter the bloodstream through the skin.
Dog-Safe Essential Oils
While you might be concerned about the safety of essential oils when appropriately applied, essential oils offer a calming solution for your pet. Choosing a blend or using an essential oil properly diluted ensures application to the skin and fur of your dog is safe yet effective. Also, as mentioned, with your dog’s heightened sense of smell, you want to ensure you don’t overwhelm them with scents.
Diluted essential oils are specifically designed to avoid skin irritation or irritation of the mucous membranes. Proper use can help support health and modify nervous behaviors in your dog.
What Essential Oils are Recommended for Dogs?
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
This pet-safe essential oil is gentle enough for skin and offers other benefits for your furry friend, including naturally repelling ticks and fleas. However, when it comes to calming, lavender is known for its abilities to help soothe nerves and help your dog feel less anxious and depressed. If your dog has sleeping issues, it can also help promote more restful sleep. If your dog is anxious or hyperactive, it can help keep them calmer, especially in situations that heighten their activity or nervous levels. For example, lavender may be helpful if your dog gets anxious or moves around too much during car rides. You may find they sit and rest during the trip as opposed to moving around so much. This keeps them safer as well.
2. Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum)
Jasmine’s strong floral scent enhances the “GABBA effect” on nerve cells. When jasmine is breathed in, it creates a relaxing effect that can help reduce anxiety and excitement.
You can often find essential oil blends containing both these oils because they are highly complementary.
How to Use Essential Oils for DogsThe best way to use essential oils for your dog is to massage the oils into their fur. Target less furry areas such as their belly, inner thighs, and legs, or under the neck, so it also contacts the skin. This allows them to benefit from the soothing effects of the essential oils while breathing in the oils safely. You can also apply the oils and then use a soft brush to help work the essential oils into their fur. When using essential oils for the first time, take the following precautions to be safe:
Be sure you are using 100% pure essential oils in the products you choose, preferably in a product safe for dogs.
- Try a small amount at first to watch for any adverse effects.
Apply the oil based on your dog’s size, using less for small dogs and more for larger dogs.
- Speak to your veterinarian to make sure the product you choose is safe. There are essential oils dogs should never be exposed to, such as rosemary, tea tree, and peppermint.
- Do not use essential oils on dogs prone to seizures.
- Keep essential oils away from your dog’s eyes, nose, ears, and genitals.
- Use the essential oils at appropriate times to avoid your dog becoming desensitized to the scent.
Aromatherapy can help provide a calmer, happier life for your dog. However, always speak to your veterinarian to assess your pet’s behavior to rule out any medical issues that could be causing their anxiety.