Aromatherapy For Anxious Dogs
We’ve all had that feeling of being overwhelmed, overworked and a little frazzled with life in general. Some people turn to exercise, others turn to food and socialising, and others turn on the tub and soak for hours with the beautiful aroma of bath salts and rose petals to melt their troubles away.
Our dogs are no different. It may surprise you to learn that a recent study of pet dogs in Finland found that 72.5% of dogs expressed anxiety like behaviours (www.medicalnewstoday.com). These behaviours include:
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Destructive Behaviour
- Excessive Barking
What Causes Anxiety In Dogs
Anxiety in dogs can be triggered by many different common occurrences. It may be a stranger arriving at the house, loud noises or construction nearby or even a change in routine if a member of the household is away. Dog separation anxiety is a growing concern, particularly since people have returned to work after covid lock downs. Separation anxiety affects 20-40% of dogs who present to a veterinary behaviour specialist (www.carecentrevets.com). So it would be safe to say that the actual number of dogs suffering separation anxiety would be much higher.
How Stress and Anxiety Affects Dogs
When dogs experience stress their cortisol levels increase and can take up to 72 hours to return to normal. This means that if a dog isn’t given suitable time to decompress after a stressful event, they may stay in a heightened level of stress for prolonged periods which can lead to PTSD and other chronic conditions.
Essential Oils in Aromatherapy
One way you can help your dog to deal with anxiety is through aromatherapy. Something to keep in mind when using aromatherapy for dogs is that your dog has heightened olfactory senses so remember that less is more when using essential oils for dogs. Just because essential oils are natural, doesn’t mean they are entirely safe. It’s important only to use 100% essential oils that are safe for your dog and in the correct amount. If in doubt, always consult with a holistic veterinarian for the right type of oil, administration and dose for your dog’s condition.
Once your dog inhales essential oils, the oil travels through the bloodstream to various tissues. Different chemicals within the oil have a harmony with certain tissues in the body. For example, lavender oil has a calming affect on the brain, while Frankincense assists the immune system and has also been known to reduce tumors.
How Aromatherapy Helps Anxious Dogs
Using aromatherapy in your home can also become a bonding experience for you and your dog. Pat Princi-Jones of In Essence Essential Oils (https://www.inessence.com.au) suggests adding a few drops of Lavender or Neroli essential oil to a tissue and tucking this tissue into your bra or under your shirt when you hold your dog. This will build a connection between the scent of Lavender or Neroli with the feeling of love and comfort. When you leave home for the day you can wipe the scented tissue onto your dog’s bed or favourite toy and can assist with separation anxiety to bring a sense of calm and love even when you’re away from home.
If you prefer to use something pre measured by a specialist, we recommend Kinfolk Apothecary Happy Hound Mist. Happy Hound Mist has been especially formulated by naturopath, herbalist and botanical alchemist, Kalya Sharpe. Happy Hound Mist uses a combination of Essential Oils and reiki infused Bach Flower Essences to create a spray that can be safely applied directly to your dog’s coat, on their bedding or in their room. The spray can be used to soothe fear, panic and anxiety and helps relieve past traumas to bring balance and contentment to your dog. This makes it a great natural remedy for anxious dogs, as well as assisting dogs in rehab and recovery.