Our best friends deserve the best of care-and that includes being mindful of the safe use of botanicals.
Dogs are highly sensitive beings and very good at reading our body language and signals as well as tuning into their environment and surroundings. They also can be affected by emotional imbalances (from these same sources as well as due to past trauma and abuse) and here is where the use of aromatics and flower essences really shine. Many dogs also benefit from the use of botanicals and aromatics for skin care issues, minor aches and pains, and even as a helpful tool during training sessions.
The majority of dogs may benefit from the use of aromatherapy and flower essences. There are some cautions to follow as with all animals and there are some dogs that may not be well-suited for the use of essential oils. This applies more so to smaller teacup dogs, hairless dogs, and dogs with pressed noses (who already have difficulty breathing). While each dog is an individual and some of these special individuals do fine with the use of essential oils when highly diluted, but some are super-sensitive (such as a dog bred to be hairless or short-snouted) and so before randomly using essential oils with your dog, be sure to follow safe use guidelines and observe for any type of a negative reaction (if so, then discontinue use). These types of dogs would be better suited for the use of diluted hydrosols, some carrier oils/bases, and flower essences.
For the most part, dogs are either bathed at home or by a professional groomer (or if like me, only bathed if necessary). The use of essential oils in the bath water (or shampoo base) is often used without any thought process as to which essential oil to use (if any) and how to properly dilute (since essential oils and water do not mix and require a dispersant to ensure that the essential oils are dispersed vs floating on the top of the water and thus touch the skin without being diluted). But, here’s the thing, the use of hydrosols diluted with the shampoo base is a much gentler way to incorporate aromatherapy during bath time (and, only if needed for say a skin issue). By using this method you ensure that your dog does not become irritated from the use of pure essential oil (or essential oils not properly dispersed) due to the lack of knowledge as to which essential oils should or should not be used with your dog. Groomers should also seek the permission of the caregiver to use any type of aromatherapy product with their animal friend prior to use (including exposure to diffused essential oils).
Do not apply pure essential oils directly to the skin, paws or in the ears. Essential oils must always be highly diluted with animals and especially with dogs. Since dogs sweat through their paw pads, it is not advised to apply essential oils directly onto the paw pads. If needed for minor wound healing a salve made from botanical oil such as olive oil with the option to infuse a drop or two of essential oil or herbal tincture into the salve base. A balm of carrier base oil/s can also be made for use during harsh winter weather to help protect paw pads during exposure to salted road and walkways.
It is best to avoid the use of essential oils high in ketone and phenol constituents directly with dogs (there are some essential oils that may be used when highly diluted for specific short-term use and based on the individual’s health history, known allergies, age, breed, size, etc.). This also applies to cautions with diffusion, and especially since a dog’s sense of smell can be up to 10,000 times stronger than humans! See the Diffusion webpage for more information.