A little light on essential oils and dogs.
- Can I use this or that oil with my dog?
- 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
The three points above are popular areas of concern by well-meaning dog lovers.
Aspergillus & Leaf Mould
Yesterday, my own dog had a ‘bed bath’ – a mini sponge bathe between her hind legs and thighs with organic castile shampoo, containing my own blend of chamomile, lavender and myrrh essential oils. Currently this is the worst leaf mould/ aspergillus season we’ve experienced since 2011, so our dog is sore and very nibbly. Afterwards, I applied a teaspoon of calendula macerated oil that I’d made in July to her dried skin, to help soothe the red areas.
In addition, we started her on Acidophilus and detoxifying clay water to support her internally. Something we haven’t needed to do since Autumn, 2011.
Our dog is severely allergic to aspergillus which can be present on decaying leaves. The mold aspergillus has close to 200 species and varieties and species are also frequently found in air and soil.
On Friday we took doggy for a walk and because we’d had a windy day last week the leaves had fallen in clumps and had become saturated with rain. After every walk we wash and dry her feet and legs – BUT once the spores reach her skin – (often whilst she’s still on the walk), the damage has been done, at least for a few days because the mold then triggers an immune response (allergy) to the ‘foreign body’ upon her skin. Itching, nibbling, scratching and generally being unsettled soon follows. We usually do street, or quiet lane walks only, but we can’t avoid pulling her on to the grass verge when cars pass by- consequently there’s lots of leaf mould there. We’ve had such a mild and wet autumn here in Norfolk and this contributes to many winter canine skin allergies.
We are (thankfully) aware of all of our dogs’ allergies having spent £1180 on a full scale allergy and intolerance repot in 2011. The report highlighted many areas we can avoid like foods, but leaf mould and certain tree pollens in spring are a little more difficult – especially living in the countryside.
The above is an isolated incident because we have everything else covered with our dog and she’s 100% well and healthy. We refuse to administer strong veterinary drugs such Apoquel to combat the itching, however tempting. Apoquel is an immunomodulatory drug – (it modulates the immune system). It is a class of medication that specifically targets the activity of cytokines that are involved in the stimulation of itching and inflammation of the skin. Long term use dangers are still unknown, but after our own research, such drugs will never feature in the life of our dog and we’ll continue in any subsequent flare’s to treat them naturally. It is very important however, that you do not self -medicate your dog without receiving a veterinary diagnosis.
I’ve been an animal healer and therapist for 22 years and I’m also an aromatherapist and aromathologist, specialising in animal wellness. You may not be familiar with the term ‘aromathology’, but in a nutshell it’s an intensive form of aromatherapy that goes way beyond the use of oils for bodily balance. Aromathologists understand in great detail each concentrated hydrophobic liquid which contains the volatile aromatic compounds of each plant oil that make up an essential oil.
Dogs don’t react to aromatherapy in the same ways as humans do. One such difference is down to their sense of smell. A dogs’ olfactory system is much more enhanced than that of a human. Olfaction is 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 in mind, it is important to understand that when using highly concentrated essential 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 benefits, whereby humans may need 8-12 drops to achieve the same level of benefits.
It really does instil me with fear for 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 the oil bottles or applying them undiluted to their skin and fur.
The emphasis in my course ‘AniRoma’, teaches full understanding of the chemical compounds that make up essential oils, and brings a wealth of knowledge to what deep levels specific oils react with our canine companions . Just because essential oils are natural, plant-based products does not give entitlement for them to be used (and abused) at will with our dogs. Essential oils contain a wide range of chemical compounds.
The compounds in essential oils include:
Not every oil contains all of these volatile compounds, 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 so overuse can be fatal. One oil I’ve mentioned above, lavender, is highly useful for dogs, but it oxidizes as it is stored within the bodily system. Oxidized alcohols can aggravate dogs and therefore lead to the development of a wide range of allergic responses, not all are instantly apparent so your dog may not become ill straight away.
Without truly understanding the above elements, and had I been unqualified in aromatherapy and aromthology before developing my organics canine wellness and nutrition brand ‘AniScentia, I could have potentially and unwittingly put my canine 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 by using them sparingly, but respect them greatly.
If you wish to undertake a professional, fully recognised diploma in canine aromatherapy then I offer a unique course called AniRoma. The course is part learn @ home and part on-site training. This course is insurable to practice in over 22 different countries. See the website below.
Niki Senior – Founder & Formulator of AniScentia & Principal of Animal Magic Training.
BSc (Hons), VTCTDip Cert.Ed, AMMHTDip, IIHHTDip, AMCTTDip Reiki Master, Aromatherapist, Aromathologist, Master Herbalist & Animal Wellness Practitioner & Lecturer – 22 Years.