Puppy Love

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Would you believe that you can use essential oils to help your animal's health and well-being?

Yes, you can! Just like people, animals can benefit from essential oils for mood and health. Today, I will concentrate on Man's Best Friend: Our puppy dogs!

There are blends of essential oils that will not only alter your dog's mood, it can help with skin problems and even what they smell like. A few recommended oils are:

Lavender - soothes the skin and relieves itching
Tea Tree - powerful antibacterial and antifungal
Bergamot - antifungal problems
Chamomile - soothing and gentle, aids in healing tissue

Just because an essential oil has been recommended for us humans does not mean it is good for your pets! Here are some UNSAFE essential oils for dogs:

Anise/Camphor/Hissop/Juniper*/White Thyme/Yarrow: Because of uterine stimulation or possible toxicity, avoid using these oils on dogs, especially pregnant dogs. *The oil of Juniper berry is perfectly safe, but the Juniper wood oil is toxic to the kidneys

Birch/Wintergreen: Some aromatherapy formulae found on websites suggest using the oils birch and wintergreen for joint pains caused by arthritis. However, dermal use of these two oils has been proven to be toxic as they contain high levels of methyl salicylate and the ingestion of these can cause severe poisoning and death.

Cassia/Clove leaf and bud: These oils can cause dermal irritation and possible toxicity to both people and pets.

Horseradish/Mustard/Tansy: Due to the pungent properties of these oils, they are considered to be hazardous and may cause severe dermal irritation.

Pennyroyal: Although this oil is effective in repelling fleas, it is also highly toxic to the kidneys and the nervous system. It is also a known abortifacient. Avoid using this oil on pets and yourself!

Rue: This oil is a terrible photosensitizer.

Wormwood: Both the herb and the oil wormwood are toxic to pets and should be avoided at all costs, even though some people suggest using wormwood for treating worm infestation. There has been reports of wormwood essential oil causing renal failure in humans. It is also a known fact that wormwood causes seizures, and possesses very high oral and dermal toxicity.

Most animal aromatherapy experts have suggestions on how best to approach a dog with essential oils. Dogs have a very sensitive sense of smell and just spraying the essential oil blend on them may startle them and it may put them off of being treated with them. It is recommended that you allow them to smell the blend before application. Choose a quiet time when you and your dog can concentrate on the oils (not before being fed or directly after feeding). Take the open bottle and hold it firmly in your hand leaving only the top exposed so the puppy can't take it out of your hand. Hold the bottle about three feet away from the dog's nostrils, moving it slowly towards him until you can see his nose twitching or some other sign that they are in a comfortable range to smell the oils. Some animals will want to come towards the bottle, possibly even lick it, others will want to stay at a safe distance and simply smell it. The oil in the bottle is evaporating so the animal is actually absorbing the affects even if it is a little distance from the bottle. If you move the bottle backwards and forwards you will notice if the animal is following the smell or not. When the animal has had enough of the oil it will move away from you or show you in its own unique way that it has had enough!

Signs of keen interest: smelling intently for a long time, licking the lips or trying to lick the bottle, follows you around with the aroma, rolls on its back.

Signs of moderate interest: a few sniffs then looks away, a small sniff but returns to the bottle, tongue licks quickly, easily distracted from the aromas.

Signs of no interest: Turns away from the aroma, one sniff and no further interest, tries to leave the room.

If the animal shows no interest in the oil try again the next day; if there is still no interest, skip a day and if there is still no interest leave it for three days and then try again.

One benefit of using essential oils for your dog is to help them relax. And a nice way to promote that is a massage! If we love them, why won't our favorite little guy or gal?

A gentle home massage can give your dog comfort as well as aiding the nervous system and increasing circulation. Deep massage is not recommended unless you have the guidance of a trained and certified practitioner but there's no reason you can't give your pet a light, relaxing rubdown, especially if you use essential oils. 

Using lavender or chamomile oils can promote relaxation and calmness. Always use the essential oil in a carrier oil (vegetable, almond, jojoba or olive oil are fine); direct contact to the skin can cause irritation and, at times, burning.

Have your dog lie on a soft, firm surface such as a rug, although very small dogs can be done sitting or crouching on your lap. Try to avoid the face of the dog with the oils; you don't want any to get in their eyes or nostrils. Apply the oil after you have finished with their face.

Start with several soft, slow strokes from head to tail. When your dog begins to relax, scratch gently behind the ears, moving to the cheeks, under the chin, over the nose, between the eyes and over the head.  Rub each ear several times between your thumb and forefinger, working from base to tip.

Apply a couple of drops of your essential oil to fingertips, rubbing the oil over the whole of your hand. Using three fingers, move slowly over the neck, shoulders and chest in small, circular patterns, gently pinching folds of any loose skin in these areas. Lightly squeeze down the length of each foreleg, then place three fingers on each side of the leg and softly rub in opposite directions several times.  If your dog is comfortable with having his feet handled, use your thumb and forefinger and give each foot a couple of soft squeezes. This is a good time to look out for any burrs, ticks or skin abnormalities. Use common sense in avoiding wounds, lumps, rashes or any sore spots.

The second phase of the massage can include placing your thumb and index finger on each side of the spine and 'walking' them toward the base of the tail, and then the outside of each thigh. You may also squeeze the length of the tail and move down the rear legs in the same way as on the front legs, if your dog doesn't protest. If at any point, your dog resists, respect his wish and move to the last area or technique he enjoyed. Finish up with several soft, slow strokes from head to tail.

Here are a few Healing Blends for your puppy:

Skin problems: 1 oz. calendula oil, 15 drops lavender, 18 drops geranium.  Pour the essential oils into a 1+ ounce bottle. Apply to afflicted areas.

Relieve itching:  1 oz, calendula oil, 12 drops lavender, 15 drops geranium, 9 drops chamomile.  Pour the essential oils into a 1+ ounce bottle. Apply to afflicted area.

Combat Fleas:  1 oz rubbing alcohol, 20 drops mint (any kind).  Fleas are nuisances for man and animal alike! This pest hides within your pets' fur as well as in our carpets, parquet and window coverings. Prepare the following blend by pouring the ingredients into a 1+ ounce spray bottle. Fleas absolutely dislike mint! Vacuum rugs, carpet and curtains. Throw vacuum bag out in the outdoor container so the fleas don't find their way back in the house. Spray the affected areas of your home. Don't forget your dog's bed. Spray directly onto your dog, holding the bottle about 10 inches from him. Avoid spraying on the head and eyes.

Combat Ticks:  1 oz vegetable oil, 30 drops tea tree oil, 30 drops lavender.  Check your home and pet for ticks -  look in his bed, window coverings, walls, etc. Burn the ones you find to prevent them from coming back. Prepare the following blend by pouring the essential oils into a 1+ ounce bottle. Shake before each use and spray affected areas around the house. Apply one drop lavender and one drop tea tree oil on tick before extracting it from your pet. This will disinfect the inflamed area. It may sting a little bit (as alcohol would) but it works great. It will help to have someone hold your puppy's head to soothe him.

Energy Booster: 1 oz vegetable oil, 15 drops rosemary, 18 drops lavender, 6 drops peppermint. Prepare the blend by pouring the oils into a 1+ ounce bottle. Massage the spine gently. Use in morning only. This is a nice blend for those loved pets who are in their elder years!

Reduce Nervousness and Hyperactivity: 1 oz carrier oil, 18 drops lavender, 6 drops chamomile, 12 drops petitgrain. This is a great blend for those puppies who cannot calm down! Prepare blend by pouring oil in a 1+ ounce bottle; add essential oils. Shake and apply lightly to spine and back of head using fingertips in a slow, circular motions.

Control Pet Odor:  1 oz water, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops geranium, 6 drops lemon. Pour water in 1+ ounce bottle and add essential oils. Spray directly on your dog, holding the bottle about 10 inches from his body. Avoid spraying on the head and eyes. You may use this on his bed or favorite place to nap.

We will do about anything for our lovely pets. Giving them more attention using essential oils is just one more way to say, 'I love you!'