If you thought the only aromas that trigger behavioral changes in dogs were things like Garden Fox, Owner’s Sockand Dropped Bacon, you’ll be please to know that aromatherapy can have a noticeable impact on your furry friend’s stress levels – especially when it’s time forthat dreaded “I’ll be back soon sweetheart!” moment.
Around a third of dogs experience separation anxiety, and their distress can manifest in worrying ways: your pet may channel his heartbreak into the ruthless destruction of furniture or carpeting, wail plaintively at the neighbors, or internalize his sorrow as expensive long-term health complaints. Scientists are still not completely in agreement about how dogs experience time, so it is difficult to know what separation really means to the canine mind, but it appears they may be able to measure the passage of time through the intensity of aromas in the air. So as your comforting scent quickly disperses after you leave, it’s possible your dog’s anxiety increases exponentially (and this would also explain why a dog seems to ‘recognize’ a loved one after months or even years of separation).
It's helpful to imagine a dog’s sense of smell as more akin to an emotion, an intensity of feeling difficult for a mere human to fully comprehend (this sense of the ‘alien’ alongside the familiar in our pets is probably another reason we adore them so much). Dogs’ hyper-curious noses are at least 10,000 times (and up to 100,000 times, in breeds such as Beagles or German Shepherds) more sensitive than our own. To put this in perspective with a sight analogy: it’s the equivalent of us spotting France on a clear day from Kent, while our dog admires his view of the Sydney Opera House. Dogs ‘feel’ aromas as much as they experience them, so it’s perhaps no wonder that essential oils can bring them great pleasure and comfort, if used with sensitivity and care.
The judicious use of aromatherapy can be as calming for our canine companions as it is for their owners. Using a diffuser is the safest way to fill your dog’s living space with essential oil molecules; turn on the diffuser before you leave the house, or time the diffusion for a specific duration when away for longer periods.
Use conservative amounts in your diffuser at first – you can always increase concentrations later. Once you’ve developed an understanding of his favorites, you can try spraying a diluted mist - 300 ml of water, instead of carrier oil, to 20 drops of essential oil, onto her bed or favorite blanket.
Important- some of the essential oils believed to be toxic to dogs to varying degrees: Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet Birch, Tea Tree,Thyme, Ylang Ylang, Wintergreen.
So because he’s been such a Very Good Girl, treat her with one of our aromatherapy recipes for dogs in your diffuser next time you say goodbye – and make the sorrow of parting as sweet as it can be!
1) Encouraging Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
Sweet Orange, Green Mandarin and Lavender is a floral, citrusy blend to keep your dog’s mood optimistic until you return (*note: use any citrus oils in low amounts, especially with smaller dogs).
2) Calming Reassuring Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
Lavender can also be combined with Petitgrain and Neroli to comfort a dog that presents a genuine fearfulness of being left alone.
3) Anxiety Coping Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
Again, Lavender is the hero top note in another effective blend for general anxiety, combined with Valerian, Clary Sage and Marjoram.
4) Mild Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
For mild anxiety, or for dogs that are particularly sensitive to aromas, try a mild but soothing blend of Roman Chamomile and Rosemary.
5) Drowsing Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
An even mix of Cedarwood, Copaiba, and Vanilla is gentle but snooze-inducing.
6) Profound Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
Frankincense blended with Vetiver is a grounding blend for dogs that respond to a slightly stronger sent.
7) Reassuring Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
If your dog is prone to panic at the first sign of your departure, try a blend of Sandalwood, Cypress and Bergamot to turn anxiety into uplifting reassurance.
8) Soothing Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
A traumatised rescue dog may respond well to the comfort of Spikenard, Damask Rose and Geranium.
9) Summer Blend Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
Mix gentle Cardomom with the acid kick of Citronella for a restful summer blend that will also help keep the mosquitoes away.
10) Exhilarating Aromatherapy Recipe for Dogs
And for that joyful reunion your dog has been waiting for? Try Palmorosa, Jasmine, Coriander and Lemon when you’re home at last and ready to play.
Want to learn about how CBD (cannabidiol) can be used to manage pain in dogs? Read Dogs & CBD. You can also find out about how CBD can help with pandemic isolation anxiety by clicking here.
Want to learn about the different essential oils you can use for your pets? Check out the LabLearning Aromatherapy For Pets information by clicking here.
You can also find out about how plants have long been used to help us care for our precious animals by listening to this amazing LabAroma podcast episode.