Lavender and Canines: A dog’s nose knows!
Lavender oil has been used for centuries to cleanse and heal the human body. The current resurgence in the use of essential oils by those seeking alternatives for health and wellbeing is stunning. It stands to reason that those who embrace a more natural or holistic lifestyle for themselves may also apply those same principles to the family dog.
Dogs are scent driven animals, possessing approximately 220 million cells devoted to smelling. Every dog owner can attest to the fact that their dog will sniff anything in its path, be it good or bad! So, it makes “scents” that dogs can derive benefit from aromatherapy too. However, due to the canine heightened olfactory sense it is important to use any essential oil sparingly.
Studies have shown that lavender oil can be used to alleviate anxiety in dogs. Many dogs suffer from car ride anxiety and airplane flights can be particularly upsetting. A drop or two of organic, essential lavender oil applied to your pets’ collar can help to calm and reduce nervousness. There is also good evidence to suggest that the scent of lavender can reduce car sickness. Research indicates that exposure to the scent of lavender reduces restlessness and vocalizing in dogs. Anything that helps limit incessant barking is a plus!
Thunder storms and fireworks can provoke extreme reactions in dogs often requiring the use of tranquilizing drugs. Combine the use of lavender oil with a thunder coat and you just might eliminate the need for prescriptive medications. Essential lavender oil has also proven useful when used to condition dogs to a safe space.
While we all look forward to spring and summer, dog owners dread the flea and tick season. There are many chemical products available to treat these seasonal pests and each of us must make our own decisions about whether to use them, or not. For those who prefer a natural approach, a good place to start is by bathing your dog with lavender pet shampoo. Lavender is a natural insect repellent. Lavender oil may also be applied topically for pest control. It is safe to use on the spine, ears and toe pads, while avoiding sensitive areas like the eyes, nose, anal and genital regions. Before heading out on a long walk spritz your dog’s legs with lavender spray. For ease of use Fragrant Isle Lavender offers a nontoxic Lavender Shampoo, as well as, a Flea and Tick Powder.
Lavender essential oil is also recommended for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lavender essential oil is a soothing remedy for skin irritations, burns and wounds as it aids in the healing process. Lavender essential oil can be applied directly to the skin, however many holistic veterinarians recommend diluting lavender with a carrier oil.The two most frequently mentioned are coconut and olive oil.
A word of caution, while lavender is not poisonous to dogs ingesting too much of the plant (flowers, stems, leaves) could cause distress. Gobbling up your lavender landscape could induce digestive distress particularly if plants have been treated with pesticides. Under those circumstances a veterinarian should be consulted. It is however, perfectly safe to add culinary lavender to your dog’s favorite treats. It is important to note that lavender attracts bees as such, a “nosey” dog runs the risk of being stung!
Finally, dogs and cats are very different creatures. If you are interested in the use of essential oils for cats a good reference is the work of Dr. Melissa Shelton.