Aromatherapy is known worldwide as a holistic therapy that uses the therapeutic properties of essential oils extracted from plants with herbal properties. Thus, it consists of a technique that uses the aroma released in the environment to stimulate the brain and promote health and well-being.
In human medicine, the positive results induced by aromatherapy, a practice recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), are already very clear. Research is also being directed toward pets, with aromatherapy products becoming increasingly common.
How Are Essential Oils Made?
Essential oils can be extracted from different parts of plants, from buds to bark. For extraction, distillation methods (a technique for separating homogeneous mixtures) are used, the most common being steam distillation, in which water vapor passes through plant tissues and extracts the oil by dragging. The extract is obtained through organic solvents that are later removed.
Is Aromatherapy Safe For Dogs?
Aromatherapy is based on the olfactory capacity since the therapeutic effect is given by the odor released by the particles of essential oils. Keeping that in mind, we must consider that an animal’s sense of smell differs from the human sense of smell. Dogs, for example, have about 300 million olfactory receptor cells, while humans have only 5 million. Therefore, we must consider the reality of our pets, which have a much more refined sense of smell, so they are more sensitive to the effects of aromatherapy. That’s why it is necessary to be very careful when performing aromatherapy on pets. After absorption, essential oils release hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and endorphin, which are responsible for the animal’s well-being.
In general, aromatherapy is safe for pets as long as it is recommended by a veterinarian who will indicate the correct dose to be used.
In Which Cases Can Aromatherapy For Pets Be Used?
Usually, aromatherapy is indicated by modulating the behavior, mainly for animals with behavioral problems such as anxiety and aggression. Check out the main uses:
- Separation anxiety: it is a condition of panic that manifests itself when they are away from their owners, causing destructive behaviors such as scratching doors and windows, barking or howling excessively, urinating and defecating around the house and destroying objects, in some cases causing the animal to hurt. This condition is more common in dogs, especially those who live indoors. In these cases, aromatherapy can alleviate destructive behaviors through the calming effects of essential oils, such as lavender.
- Fear: pets can be afraid of other humans and even fear of other animals. It happens when they are not taught from a young age to interact in new environments, which causes a type of social phobia. In these cases, essential oils, such as lavender and marjoram, can reassure them in situations where animals will be exposed to conditions that cause them fear, such as fireworks and storms.
- Excessive barking: excessive barking or meowing can be highly irritating to us. Still, we must be aware that for pets to have this behavior, it is because something is not pleasing them, being motivated by situations such as stress, anxiety, and external stimuli. In these cases, essential oils with tranquilizing effects should be used.
- Agitation: very restless pets that seem to have infinite energy can relax with chamomile essential oils. Animals can also be agitated during periods of heat, in which case a blend of calming essential oils can help.
- Stress: stressful situations usually occur with changing environments, car rides, and visits to the vet. Calming essential oils can help to alleviate stress in these situations.
- Self-mutilation: many animals can self-harm in stressful situations, especially with separation anxiety. In these cases, essential oils can also help to reduce these behaviors.
- Coprophagy: is characterized by the habit of dogs eating their feces or that of other animals and can be caused by anxiety and stress. Citronella essential oil applied to where the dog defecates can help reduce this behavior.
How Should Aromatherapy Be Done On Pets?
Aromatherapy applications can be carried out through inhalation, diffusers in the environment, topical application, massages, and aromatic baths.
Specific care must be taken when using essential oils on pets. The aromatherapy appliance should not be done in areas close to the eyes, nose, and mucous membranes. Cause they can be harmless to the pet, the products must be restricted to the outer part of the animal. Never put it in their mouth and never use products made for humans, as the dosages are different. Always observe your animal after using essential oils or new products; it is vital to note if your dog has a bad reaction. If you realize it is not pleasant, stop using it immediately.
First, it is essential that before starting to use essential oils, you consult a trained professional in aromatherapy for pets and follow the recommendations for applications and dilutions. Some human-made essential oils are toxic to pets, such as ylang-ylang oil; never use human-made essential oils on animals!
Cats are more sensitive than dogs, and the supply should be done at a lower dosage, so if you have dogs and cats living in the same environment, administer the safe dosage for cats. Additionally, cats can become intoxicated with essential oils that contain polyphenolic compounds such as cinnamon, oregano, cloves, thyme, and birch.
It is important to emphasize that using aromatherapy serves only as a complementary therapy. That is, it can help to reduce behaviors, but it will not solve the problem. Look for a professional you trust and follow the recommendations indicated.