There are many things in our lives that we look to for help with calming nerves and easing anxious thoughts. One way to do just that is to spend lots of time with a dog. (They are our best friends for a reason, after all!) But there are some pet owners who need even more help feeling zen, and they often turn to dog-friendly essential oils.
Whether you're looking for tranquility, an energy boost, or a headache soother, essential oils can come to the rescue--whether they're enjoyed through an aromatherapeutic diffuser or placed directly on the skin. While these oils are certainly natural and don't seem as if they'd harm our pets, as it turns out, several types of essential oils can be dangerous to use around dogs and caution should be exercised.
"Essential oils can be very powerful healing agents both around people and companion animals," Dr. Michael Dym, PetMeds Partner and holistic veterinarian, tells WideOpenPets.com. "However, animal guardians need to be aware of the oils that are potentially toxic to animals, as well as especially in those pets with chronic medical disease conditions."
Though you won't have to stop using essential oils completely (after all, many of us rely on essential oils for improved well-being), you'll need to take your pup's safety into account whenever you use them.
Essential Oils That Are Safe for Dogs
Dr. Dym shares that there are a number of dog-friendly essential oils that have been proven to be safe around pets. You can confidently put the following into your diffuser:
Dym adds that oils such as chamomile oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, lavender oil, and fish oil may be used topically on dogs, if the oil has health benefits for your dog and that's something that you and your vet have discussed.
Essential Oils That Are Dangerous
On the flip side, there are many essential oils that can be dangerous to use around dogs, whether they're diffused or licked up from your skin or from a spill on the floor. According to Dr. Dym, these include:
- Tea Tree
Essential Oil Safety Tips
So, why are some essential oils so bad for dogs? Dr. Dym explains that some oils are lipophilic, which means they can more easily soak into the skin and enter the bloodstream, and this can make them more dangerous. These essential oils can be ingested, smelled, or absorbed through the skin rapidly.
"Orally ingested essential oils are metabolized in the liver, where some can be especially hazardous to very young dogs, geriatric dogs, or dogs with chronic metabolic diseases of the liver and other organs," Dym explains. Oils used improperly, especially around unhealthy dogs, may cause behavioral or other adverse central nervous system effects, as well as respiratory issues in dogs with chronic respiratory and/or cardiac conditions.
"Especially in these latter cases, these animals should not be exposed to essential oil diffusers, as well as one should avoid applying many oils topically on the skin unless the products are expertly formulated for such use and the oils are deemed safe," Dym adds. This may not mean that you have to put away your diffuser altogether. Dym says that using oil diffusers for short periods of time in a secure area is not likely to be an issue, but dog owners should "avoid diffusers in pets with cardiac or respiratory health conditions."
While diffusing is the safer option for using oils around dogs, Dym says that one should avoid having oils on skin that's exposed to dogs, since there's a chance your dog could lick your skin.
And then there are the ways that even dog-friendly essential oils can impact a dog's sense of smell. Some diffused oils may actually produce a calming effect for your dog (when you use lavender or chamomile, for instance). But since dogs have 40 times more scent receptors than humans, keep in mind that the scent could be extremely overpowering for them. It may be best to diffuse just a drop or two, to keep it as light as possible. And of course, never diffuse or apply those oils that are toxic to dogs.
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