Essential Oils for Dogs with Anxiety

No doubt about it…people LOVE their dogs. They’re not just an animal or a pet, they’re a well loved member of our family.  When a dog has anxiety it is rough on their humans.  Did you know that you can use essential oils for dogs with anxiety?  Veterinarians have a variety of prescription remedies for dog anxiety, but many people are looking for more natural ways to help their pets deal with this relatively prevalent issue.  This is where essential oils can be of great benefit .

The type of anxiety your dog experiences is going to dictate how you will be treating it.  Whether the stress is related to loud noises, separation, or you’ve got a rescue with an unpleasant past that causes fear,  there are essential oils that can help.  As with humans, no essential oil is going to have exactly the same effect on every dog.  Dogs, like humans, have personal preferences to different aromas.  Fortunately, there are a variety of methods for delivery, and a variety of essential oils that can be tried in order to find what works for your pooch.

Before delving into the benefits of the particular oils I’d like to offer a word of caution/advice.  Essential oils should never be applied directly to your dog’s skin.  A carrier substance should always be employed.  Be wary of applying oils too close to the nose.  Dogs’ sense of smell is about 40 times better than a humans, so they are MUCH more sensitive to the effects of essential oils than we are.  Keeping this in mind will make being treated with essential oils a much more tolerable and pleasant experience for your Fido.  We all know how trainable dogs are, and if they have an initial negative experience with an oil, you may just be unable to utilize that one ever again.  A good rule of thumb is to just stay entirely away from anything in front of the ears.

Another precaution to take is to not use essential oils on pregnant or nursing dogs.  Bitches aren’t in either condition for very long, so it’s best to forego the oils during these delicate times.

HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS WITH DOGS

Essential oils can be used with your dog the same way you would use them on yourself.  Blending an EO with a carrier agent, such as fractionated coconut oil or distilled water, is a safe topical application method.  If mixing with distilled water in a spray bottle, be certain to shake the bottle vigorously prior to each application, as oil and water don’t mix!  Once the carrier agent and the oil are mixed it can they can either be sprayed on a cloth (I use a cotton sock over my hand) and rubbed onto the pet’s fur, or sprayed directly onto the pet.  I prefer to the spray and rub method, as the pet gets the additional tactile attention, and there is little chance of the oil going into the nose or eyes.

My favorite way to use EO’s for anxiety reduction is to diffuse them into the air.  Using this method with your dog will be less stressful to your dog as nothing is being DONE to them, they are simply breathing.  If the pet has an aversion to the scent it can distance itself from the source.  If the oil is applied directly to the pet, they’re stuck with it!  Keeping the pet confined to a smaller room with the diffuser running in it will ensure that the oil is reaching its target, without being overpowering.

GOOD OILS FOR REDUCING ANXIETY IN DOGS

Roman Chamomile-One of the best calming essential oils for humans and canines.  It is good for general soothing and central nervous system calming.

Clary Sage– calms the central nervous system, sedating.  Should be used in small amounts. This is one that is best used in a diffuser, rather than applied directly to the animal.

Lavender-everyone should be using lavender!  It’s great for soothing both humans and pets.  Plus is can be used for a variety of other pet ailments.  There is no concern with applying this directly to the dog’s fur (diluted with a carrier agent).

Sweet Orange-another nerve calming oil.  Plus when used in a diffuser makes your house smell great!

Valerian– nerve calming as well.  Very soothing to dogs with noise or separation anxiety.

Sweet Marjoram (to a lesser degree)-this one may not be as effective as some others but some dogs may enjoy the scent so it doesn’t hurt to try it.

HOW TO DECIDE WHICH ONES TO USE

Just like when I make a mix for my kids I like to have the dog “smell test” the essential oils before I mix them.  I just uncap the bottle and hold it near their face (a few inches from their nose) and observe their reaction.  If they show an immediate aversion by turning away or scrunching their muzzle, I won’t use that one.  If they get closer or try to lick to the bottle I’ll add that to the mix.  You don’t want to torture your pet with an aroma that’s unpleasant to them!

As with humans, I try to judge which essential oil seemed to be the favorite, second favorite, third, etc. on down the line to the least favorite.  I begin the mix with 8-10 drops of the most favored oil, then 5-7 of the second, and then 3-4 of the third.  For a diffuser, I use an empty half gallon milk jug and fill it with distilled water prior to adding the oils.  Once the oils are added I shake the jug vigorously and then add the mixture to the diffuser.  For direct application I would do the same thing, only reducing the number of drops proportionally to the size of my spray bottle.

TESTING YOUR ESSENTIAL OIL MIX

This may be the toughest part.  How can you tell if your mix is going to help your dog?  Unfortunately the only way is to wait until an anxiety inducing  experience is happening or is about to happen and either apply the mixture or start the diffuser.  From there you just have to wait and see what happens.  If the issue is separation anxiety I would apply or diffuse the mix, leave for just a short while, and come back and see how your dog is doing.

 

I hope you find this information helpful and would love to hear your feedback after you’ve tried it.  Please leave a comment!

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22 thoughts on “Essential Oils for Dogs with Anxiety

  1. I have for quite a while a dog, he was a german short hair, a mux between Labrador and Doberman. With his short hair he was easy to bath and clean. Thank god he was never sick until to the end.

  2. I don’t have a dog at the moment but I did have a Yorkie with anxiety issues. This article has surely helped. I love animals and plan to have a dog in the future. Thanks for sharing these useful ideas.

  3. Hi Janet,

    Whilst I don’t own a dog, my mum breeds Border Collies and I get on well with them, they seem to be attracted to me which is good.

    I must say that a Dog’s sense of smell is strong isn’t it! but 40 times stronger than our sense of smell is quite amazing.

    I don’t think that my mum has ever tried the essential oils approach on her dogs. She has also been into Aromatherapy for years so you have given me some good information which I can pass onto her.

    Very helpful and interesting post you have made.

  4. I have 2 cats both are strays, one of them is really spooked by different noises or visitors to our house. Before people come I use my diffuser for my oils. I normally use Lavender and Serenity. I like to try out the Valerian oil, do you think the oils you mention also work on cats?

    1. Hi Sylvia, some oils are not recommended for cats, and there are others that would be more effective on cats. Lavender is such a wonderful oil that can be used on anyone!! Rose, geranium, chamomile, lavender and neroli are the more useful ones for calming cats.

  5. I think this article is great if you are looking for a natural way to calm your pet down. However I feel that dogs are often classified as having Separation anxiety when they can actually have Isolation distress. Which through proper training and patience can be alleviated. Overall this is a great aid for dogs who truly are having anxiety, but should be used in addition to vigorous exercise and behavioral training.

    1. Hilda! I couldn’t agree more! Most dogs will reap a good many benefits from exercise and good training, and any other resources should be used as a back up. Thanks for your comment.

  6. It is reassuring to know that there is a natural solution for a dog’s anxiety. I do not have a dog, but I am glad that you pointed out that these oils are also effective on humans, and that they can also be used to freshen the air. Good article.

    1. Thanks Judy, the oils mentioned are the ones most effective for dogs, and there are many more that can help humans. It such an added bonus to have your home smell great as well! Thanks for the comment.

  7. This is great! My dog is ten years old, and is a Havanese (the breed has been nicknamed the “Velcro Dog” due to how attached they get to their owners). And he definitely has some anxiety going on when he can’t be around me. I diffuse oils, but have never once thought about using them for him. I’m gonna try it! Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. I wish I’d come across this when I had my English bull terrier. He had alot of anxiety prone behaviors that could have been calmed by the usage of Clary sage and lavender. I know about food allergies but never thought of essential oils. This is good info to keep in mind for my next EBT. Maybe even my TWO:)

    1. Hi Lisa, it is hard to think of all the possible things to try to help ourselves or our pets. There are so many things that could be going on. I hope you don’t encounter anxiety with your next pups, but if you do, you’ve now got this in your back pocket!

  9. What a great post on essential oils for dogs with anxiety. In particular, I like the smell test part. It makes complete sense. Although, I bet a lot of people overlook doing this.

    1. Thanks Simon, I agree that testing different aromas with your dog is an often overlooked step. I know I wouldn’t appreciate it much if someone doused me with a scent I didn’t care for (think being sprayed by skunk!) We should have similar consideration for our pets!

  10. I really loved this article I learned a lot.
    I assume all the information also goes for cats since I am a total cat lover myself.

    On a personal note, I love using essential oils and yes, why shouldn’t they work for animals too, Never thought of this until reading your article.

    1. Thanks Sylvia, I’m glad you liked the article, however, the same solutions don’t always work for cats as they metabolize aromas differently than dogs. Check back! I’m working on a post for cats!

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