How much do you love your dog? Is his food more expensive than yours? Does she have a bigger wardrobe than you do? When you go away for vacation, is his kennel nicer than your resort? You may not know this, but essential oils give you an entirely new set of tools with which to spoil your furry friend.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for cosmetic, emotional, and medicinal purposes, but only recently have they gained recognition by the general public as a reliable and value alternative to common pharmaceuticals, household cleaners, perfumes, skin care products, and more. Rather than spending one week’s paycheck on the items you need to help your dog stay healthy, you should consider investing in a few select bottles of essential oils. Not only are they more affordable, but they are also safer and more effective for your pet than most store-bought choices.

In fact, Dr. Richard Palmquist, chief of integrative health services at Centinela Animal Hospital and a past president of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, explains that, “Oils have been shown to have many possible desirable effects such as reducing anxiety and inflammation, fighting oxidative processes, battling toxins and fighting infections by inhibiting bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Oil odors can be used to affect mental states and memory.”

Basic Pet Precautions

Essential oils are incredible, no doubt about it, but they need to be used on your dog or cat with caution.

  • Remember that your pet is smaller than you, so he only needs a fraction of the essential oils that you would use.
  • Always, always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil or grapeseed oil. This ensures that potent oils don’t burn or hurt your pet, and it also helps you stretch your oil supply! If your pet is small, always limit oil use to 5 drops, and be sure to dilute up to 90% before application.
  • Stay far away from the eyes, nose, and private areas. Sounds like common sense, but a reminder can’t hurt.
  • Cats are more sensitive than dogs, and they cannot withstand “hot” oils like Clove, Oregano, CInnamon, Wintergreen, Thyme, Birch, and Tea Tree. They also may be sensitive to citrus oils, so observe and err on the side of caution.

Two Application Options

Just like with humans, pets can enjoy essential oils aromatically and topically. Aromatherapy is a powerful and simple practice that can benefit you as much as your pet. Simply buy a diffuser or blend a few drops of essential oils into a water bottle and spray on your dog’s bed or favorite space. You can also apply diluted essential oils topically to your pet’s body, even on your dog’s toes and pads.

What Do I Do If….

The trickiest thing about essential oils is researching which types are best for specific health problems or concerns. This basic guide will give you a great place to start when you want to help your pet heal the natural way.

  • SKINCARE: Lavender and Frankincense are two of the most popular skincare essential oils because they can clean the skin and sooth irritations. Use a cotton ball or ear swab to blend coconut oil and 1 drop of essential oil, then apply it on the impacted area. You can also add a few drops into your dog’s shampoo to stimulate essential oil action during every bath.
  • DIGESTIVE DISCOMFORT: We all know how miserable stomach problems can be, so we don’t want our pets suffering any longer than can be helped! One drop each of ginger, Peppermint, and Tarragon make a great digestive blend when added to a bit of carrier oil and rubbed directly on your pup’s stomach.
  • RESPIRATORY SUPPORT: Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Laurel Leaf are the most popular essential oils to include in a respiratory blend their components can clear airways and support healthy lungs. Combine a few drops in a spoonful of coconut oil and apply to your pet’s paw or scruff of the neck. You can also diffuse this blend into the air.
  • EAR HEALTH: This one applies only to dogs. Ears can become dirty and swollen very easily, so it’s important to care for them in a safe way. Mix 2 drops of Lavender, 2 drops of Tea Tree, and 2 drops of Geranium in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Apply the mixture to your dog’s ear with a Q-tip twice a day until the redness and swelling fades.
  • JOINTS AND MUSCLES: Older dogs and cats tend to suffer from joint and muscle pain, even if they cannot vocalize that pain to you. You can create your own soothing blend by blending a few drops of Chamomile, Helichrysum, and Wintergreen together in a carrier oil. Rub along the problem areas to ease discomfort.
  • MOOD AND BRAIN FUNCTION: Teenagers aren’t the only ones with mood swings and sensitive emotions! Your dog or cat could benefit from a calming or grounding blend that helps him feel more tranquil, especially during thunderstorms, large parties, or other frightening events. Lavender, Sandalwood, and Roman Chamomile are a few of the best calming oils to diffuse in the room or apply to paws.

The process of using essential oils to support your pet’s health couldn’t be easier, especially once you find the blends you like the most and learn exactly how your pet responds to each. Have fun!