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Essential Oils and Dogs: Indy’s Story

This is our little girl, India or Indy or Indianna Jones or Indy-Lou-Who depending on the season and our mood.  

She’s five now but only 4 months old in this picture and we’ve been through it with her.  She was born with a subluxation of her rear knee caps meaning that the knee cap slips out of position and essentially “locks” out so she can’t flex it. We discovered this as Covid was about to take over the world and so the four surgeries required were very difficult to schedule and then difficult to access physio post-surgery.  

She had her first surgery in February of 2021 and then a second at the end of March 2021 to remove a bone chip that didn’t heal properly into place from the first procedure. There is nothing more heart-breaking that your pup coming off of anesthetic and crying for almost 24 hours because she doesn’t know what’s doing on.  

Mercifully, we had access to Dr. Janice Fischer formerly of Full Circle Vet in Dartmouth, NS for Indy’s rehab and physio and she helped us get really confident using essential oils to help our pup heal providing Indy the best care possible and savings us a LOT of money. Using essential oils with dogs can be a really simple extension of your natural approach to wellness for your family.  

I think puppy mums and dads are fearful because essential oils are just not a tool in their healing toolbox yet and they’re not familiar with this healing modality. Essential oil remedies are my default and Indy was already familiar with oils being in the house so it was a simple transition for us to add a few more drops and protocols  into her daily routine. 

Using Essential Oils Safely with Dogs 

Before you start using oils with and around your dogs, be sure to follow these basic safety guidelines and only use oils that have been tested as pure. I only use doTERRA essential oils and can only attest to and recommend doTERRA oils and blends and I reference this in the remainder of the post. It’s estimated that with the growth of popularity with essential oils, that up to 85% of oils like Bergamot are synthetically produced and can create reactions and irritations that pure oil would not. Be discerning and see the difference pure essential oils make.   

Topically 

  • use proper dilution for the size of your dog: Under 20 lbs using non-spicy oils : 1% dilution = 2 drops in a 10mL roller. Over 20 lbs using non-spicy oils: 3% dilution = 6 drops in a 10mL roller. For all dogs with spicy/hotter oils = 0.5% = 1 drop in a 10mL roller bottle. Top off with a carrier oil, of course, like fractionated coconut oil.  
  • Do not use oils at the same location as any topical medications 
  • Self-selection: let your dog smell the unopened bottle and observe their behaviour first. Use the oil if your dog gives you a positive response. 
  • Avoid using oil on the nose, in the ears, in the eyes, or around the genitals or other sensitive areas 

Aromatically 

  • Diffuse oils in a water based diffuser and make sure your dog has a way to leave the room if they wish 
  • Observe your dog’s behaviour and get them fresh air if they don’t care for an aroma or begin sneezing excessively 

Internally 

  • Use caution when giving oils internally. Make sure the oil is recommended for internal use first (check label).  
  • Consider adding 1-2 drops to wet dog food on a yummy treat, or in a capsule 
  • Do not give any products containing xylitol, including onGuard toothpaste or peppermint beadlets (Roark, 2022) 

How we use doTERRA essential oils with Indy

We feed Indy raw food so it’s easy to simply add a drop or two of essential oils to her breakfast so she received the systemic benefits of oils. Healing roller blends were super simple to incorporate because we already applied oils to her spine daily and a little extra roller around her scars only added 10 seconds more to the “playful petting.” Essential oils are a great and very affordable preventative for dogs. Here are some of our favorite remedies we use nearly daily … 

Daily Support Roller  

4 drops frankincense 

3 drops copaiba 

2 drops lavender  

2 drops sandalwood 

2 drops myrrh 

fractionated coconut oil  

Add essential oils to a 10 mL roller and fill remainder with coconut oil. Apply to your finger tips and palm and apply along your dogs spine and directly over any areas of concern like “hot spots”, insects bites, injuries, cuts & scrapes. I like to roll Indy’s belly with this blend once a week too so roll her spine in the morning and give her a nice belly rub in the evening before bed. 

Pro-Tip: For added support (especially if your dog has aches and pains) consider adding 1 drop each of frankincense + copaiba to your dogs food once a day. Smaller dogs likely once and larger dogs or those with significant pain, likely twice a day. Indy is 42 lbs and Dr. Fisher recommended 1 drop each once a day.

 DIY Oral Hygiene Spray 

1 drops onGuard protective blend 

1 drops myrrh 

1 drop frankincense 

1 drop peppermint  

Add essential oils to 60 mL spray bottle and fill with filtered water. Lift the lips on the side of the mouth of your pup and give a spray to the side of the teeth. Repeat for a larger dog and repeat for the other side of the mouth. I spray my palm twice after getting the sides and Indy licks it from my palms – she LOVES it!  

Pro-Tip: Shake before each use and do this at night when your pup is calm and winding down for the night. Spray your palms away from your pups to avoid spraying their nose. It won’t hurt them but if you spray up their nose, they’ll sneeze a but so don’t be too concerned if this happens. When I spray her teeth/gums, I use a finger to “hook” into her loose lips, get close with the spray bottle, and direct the spray semi-parallel to her gumline (eg going from front to back of mouth). The first time we did this, the spray startled her a bit but after that, she seemed to expect it and it was no problem.  

 

There are a couple of GREAT benefits with this simple bedtime routine and it literally takes me less than a minute PLUS Indy enjoys it. Oral hygiene is highly linked to mental health so this is a common and VERY expensive aspect of dog health that is over-looked and causes problems later. This doesn’t replace brushing but can augment your efforts very easily with so many benefits. Peppermint is wonderful for proper digestive health so you may notice easier movements and less tummy troubles when you implement this daily. onGuard is the immune supporting blend so if your pup is prone to ear or skin infections, this may save them a lot of irritation and you a lot of stress. I also give myself a little mouth spritz too and it makes a great quick little breath freshener if you’ve got company coming over and your pup has just been enjoying a salmon cookie (YIKES, those things are stinky but she loves them).  

Calming Diffuser Blend  

Diffusers are GREAT with dogs … Indy runs up to our Dawn humidifying diffuser when I’m diffusing frankincense (her favorite) and smells it and then runs away and comes back and inhales the vapor and runs away and this continues several times and is hilarious to see her so playfully happy.  

2 drops copaiba 

2 drops lavender 

2 drops vetiver  

 

Always do a little self-selection test and let your dog smell the unopened bottles of oils before you you add to the diffuser. Just as we have oil / aroma preferences, dogs will too. If when you offer the bottle to them, they lick it, lean it to smell more, wag their tail then you’ve found a favorite. Allow that if you’ve already opened the bottle they may sneeze when they get a bit of a nose-ful of aroma. A few sneezes is fine but if they continue to sneeze, then this particular oil may not be a favorite so you may select a similar oil who’s chemistry better suits your dog.  

Our personal calming favorite are vetiver (in our bedtime diffuser), Easy Air (for snoring pups and husbands) over-night, and Balance (grounding blend of black spruce + frankincense) that you could also simply apply a couple drops to your palms and massage into their spine after their bedtime breath spray.  

 

Natural Tick & Flea Spray  

We keep is simple and just use Terra Shield blend (pre-diluted blend with a gorgeous aroma of cedarwood, lemongrass, and peppermint in a sesame oil base) so that the whole family can use the same thing without switching to different products all the time. Use the Terrashield link above to receive 25% off + fee shipping and a complementary gift of a lavender 10mL roller.   

Pro-Tip: I soak Indy’s collar in a combo of 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 10 drops of Terra Shield and then let dry overnight to repel ticks and bugs while we walk. This lasts about a week or so depending on how often she’s in the water. The bonus is that she’s not bringing back any friends from the lake. Repellent medications are fine to help to protect them from parasites and pests but don’t protect you from the ticks clinging to hair and fur that catch a ride back to your home. A repellent blend is really key for everyone’s enjoyment of the outdoors. I spray my hands, swipe my forehead, back of neck, wrists, and ankles at minimum and then spray again and pet Indy from top of head (avoid inside ear application) right down to the top base of her tail. If your dog has a long tail, you may like to spritz your hand and apply to the tip of the tail as well.  

If you’re a DIYer, there are even more great recipes and fantastic expert guidance in this ebook from Dr. Janet Roark, the Essential Oil Vet.  This reference talks about oil safety tips in depth as well as guidance for safety for dogs, cats, birds, amphibians, and more!  Essential Oils and Safety for Pets PDF

I hope this has been helpful and informs you with best practice around working with essential oils around your pup. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised by how quickly oils work for your pup and how inexpensive these remedies are. Prep them to have at the ready for when you need them and hop into a workshop for oils and pups soon and let’s have some fun with our fur babies, together. 

Until next time, from one puppy mama to another, I hope you’re having a spectacular day with your furbaby !

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Claire Fraser

"I’ve used blend rollers from Fran in the past and they are great to have in your purse when you need to take a moment to reset and de-stress throughout the day. Fran is so kind and really takes the time to listen!"

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