Alternative Health for Pets: Essential Oils for Dogs

Essential oils are extracted from plants and trees, particularly from the flowering ones. Essential oils can be used to aid the body in healing and prevention of ailments, from a nutritional complement. If we keep in mind that the things we put on our skin react similarly to the things we ingest, then it’s understandable that applying essential oils topically can have health benefits beyond the skin’s surface.

Essential oils are usually applied to the skin and absorbed into the body. The same is definitely true when treating pets with essential oils too. When used topically, in the right amounts, essential oils can have some wonderful health benefits for you, your family and your family pets. In this article, let’s talk about treating dogs with essential oils.

Essential Oils for Canine Ear Infection Inflammation

My dog, Jake, is a blue heeler/German shepherd mix. He loves to swim. Unfortunately, his ears don’t love having water in them that long, and he used to get frequent ear infections when he would swim. We hated not letting him swim, so we talked with the vet about ways to help his ears.

The vet gave us an ear wash to dry out his ears and prevent infection, but we also asked her about essential oils for helping with pain and inflammation should he get an ear infection. She thought Peppermint Essential Oil would be a great choice to apply along the ear line, on the outside of the ear (never internally, because it would burn the tender ear canal), applied over the fur down the tube of the ear from the outside.

Not only does Jake love the feel of it–he will, when his ear is hurting, actually come to us wanting the Peppermint Essential Oil–but loves the taste of it too and will lick it. Within a few minutes of application, he has obvious relief from pain.

Essential Oils for Dogs Paw Pads

Dogs who walk on concrete will get rough and dry paw pads. Sometimes the paw pads will crack and can bleed or get infected. This can be very painful for a dog. To help prevent this, Tea Tree Essential Oil (melaleuca alternifolia) can be applied directly to paw pads to soothe the dryness and fight infection.

Don’t over oil the paw pads, because some roughness is required for the dog to have traction. Tea Tree Essential Oil isn’t meant to make the paw pads soft, but rather to soften them enough so they don’t crack or bleed. If they are already bleeding, Lavender Essential Oil can help with pain and prevent scaring.

Essential Oils for Pest Prevention (Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes, etc.)

Fleas and ticks can be prevented by using commercial products, but our vet doesn’t like to use chemical, topical products. Why? Because these products can damage dog’s nerves, cause seizures and other complications. Some oral treatments are acceptable, but essential oils can repel fleas, ticks, even mosquitoes. The good news is, Essential oils can repel pests from you and your kids, without the harsh chemicals and toxins in regular pest repellants.

The best essential oils for pest repellants for dogs or humans are: Citronella Essential Oil, Cedar Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Lemongrass Essential Oil and Lavender Essential Oil. You can use any combination of oils to get to a scent that you like. Citronella can be toxic, so it has to be used on the skin very sparingly, but it is also what is used in commercial pest repellant candles and smokers, and probably works the best for repelling.

We love the Lavender Essential Oil, mixed with eucalyptus and lemongrass. This smells like fresh cut summer grass and a field of scented blossoms. Eucalyptus Essential Oil doesn’t smell anything like eucalyptus cold products you might buy in the store. You’d just have to smell it to see the wonderful difference.

Use 10-20 drops each of two or three essential oils from the above list. Mix with bottled or filtered water, about 6-8 ounces, in a spray bottle. Mix by gently shaking, and then spray the mixture on your dog’s legs, take his collar off and spray it and return it, and then spray his back fur toward his tail. Spray around his bedding and anywhere outside that he might spend time, such as a dog house.

You can use the same mixture to spray the clothing and mist the hair of your children and yourself before spending time outside, and the mixture is safe and non-toxic–just be sure not to get any in the eyes or up the nose.

Other Essential Oil Uses for Dogs

There are plenty of other uses for essential oils for your dog. Tea Tree is great for scabs or scratches, to help with wound healing and fighting infection. Peppermint mixed with some vegetable or olive oil can be rubbed on an upset belly to help your dog feel better. Talk to your vet about any concerns you might have about using essential oils on your dog and your vet can help you pick the right oils for your furry family pet.