Essential Oils for Animals
As a professional aromatherapist, Master Herbalist and founder and formulator at AniScentia, I’m often asked one question:
- Can I use this or that essential oil with my dog?
Then, I often hear…..
- My dog took a turn for the worst after an essential oil treatment because he licked the bottle!
- My dog seems to be lethargic and I only sprayed his bed with lavender oil!
Being an Aromatherapist & Aromathologist
I’m an animal healer and therapist, but I am also an aromatherapist and aromathologist, specialising in animal wellness and animal aromatherapy. You may not be familiar with the term ‘aromathology’, but in a nutshell it’s an intensive form of aromatherapy. Aromathologist’s understand greatly each concentrated hydrophobic liquid which contains the volatile aromatic compounds of each plant oil, that make up the form of each essential oil.
Dogs & Essential Oils
Dogs don’t react to aromatherapy in the same was as humans do. One of these differences is down to their sense of smell. A dogs’ olfactory system is much more enhanced than that of a human. Olfaction is the the act or process of smelling and this is a dog’s primary sense. A dog’s sense of smell is said to be a thousand times more sensitive than that of humans. In fact, a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in its nose, while humans have only 5 million – something we need to consider when using essential oils with dogs. With this information, it is important to understand that when using oils with dogs that their need of them is much less than ours. Just 1 drop of lavender essential oil in a vaporiser can have vast relaxation and de-stressing benefit, whereby humans may need 5-8 drops to achieve the same level.
It really does promote fear within me surrounding the safety of dogs when I read or witness dog owners almost dowsing their best friend in essential oils, or worse still, allowing them to lick a bottle or applying them neat to the body!
The emphasis in animal aromathology is about understanding the chemical compounds that make up an essential oil. Just because essential oils are natural, plant-based products does not give free rein for them to be used (and abused) at will with our dogs. Essential oils contain a wide range of chemical compounds.
Alcohols; Monoterpene & Sesquiterpene alcohols
Not every oil contains all of the above chemistry, but most do. Some of the above compounds aren’t easily processed by the human body let alone the canine system. Dogs metabolize and react differently to essential oils and overuse can be fatal. One oil I mentioned above, lavender, is highly useful for dogs, but it oxidizes as it is stored within the system. Oxidized alcohols can aggravate dogs and therefore lead to the development of a wide range of allergic responses, not all instantly apparent.
Without truly understanding the above elements and had I been unqualified in aromatherapy and aromthology before developing my canine wellness brand ‘AniScentia, I could potentially and unwittingly have put my doggy customers at risk.
Please do your research. Essential oils should be used with the greatest of care and at the correct dosage level. Trust the oils to do their healing, but respect them greatly too.
If you’d like to train as an animal aromatherapist and gain professional certification then please see our training courses.
Niki Senior – Founder & Formulator of AniScentia & Principal of Animal Magic Training.
VTCTDip Cert.Ed, AMMHTDip, IIHHTDip, AMCTTDip Reiki Master, Aromatherapist, Aromathologist, Master Herbalist & Animal Wellness Practitioner & Lecturer – 22 Years.