So are essential oils safe? Anecdotal evidence and the few studies available would indicate they are remarkably effective and safe when carefully blended by someone with good training in their use. Are they preferable to pharmaceuticals? That depends on the pharmaceutical, the severity of the problem being treated and the pet’s response to the drug. Ultimately, owners must decide what is best for their pets. Until more conclusive studies are available, essential oils will probably remain a complementary rather than an alternative treatment option to pharmaceuticals.
A dozen essential oils that can be used effectively on dogs:
Chamomile (both Roman and German)
Bell, Kristen Leigh. 2004. Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals. Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Press.
Herron, M.E., et al. 2008. Retrospective evaluation of the effects of diazepam in dogs with anxiety-related behavior problems, JAVMA 233(9): 1420–24.
Keith, Elizabeth Rowan. 2010. “Essential Oil Use in Canine Veterinary Medicine.” Dissertation, South Dakota State University. http://udini.proquest.com/view/essential-oil-use-in-canine-goid:769549692/.
Schwartz, Stefanie. 2003. Separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and cats, JAVMA 222(11): 1526–32.
Villar, D., et al. 1994. Toxicity of melaleuca oil and related essential oils applied topically on dogs and cats, Veterinary and Human Toxicology 36(2): 139–42.
Wells, D.L. 2006. Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs, JAVMA 229(6): 964–67.
This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 73: Spring 2013
Lisa Browder manages a complementary therapies program in hospice. She is a registered aromatherapist, Nevada director of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and a member of the Allied Therapies Committee for the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. She also owns an aromatherapy company, Scentsibility. scentsibility.net