Using essential oils for dog anxiety is increasingly becoming a mainstream way of helping our canine friends who suffer this condition. But first, what exactly is dog anxiety?
Dog anxiety is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear experienced by a dog and is often marked by physiological signs (such as panting, tension, increased pulse, and salivation) and behavior changes, such as restlessness and destructiveness.
Dog anxiety can almost always be traced back to the first two years of life and is typically due to a traumatizing event.
Types of Dog Anxiety
- Dog separation anxiety
- Noise anxiety
- Social anxiety
How Anxiety in Dogs Develop
Anxiety in dogs has also been well studied and can be traced to the 5 phases of their behavioral development.
- Neonatal - first and second weeks of life.
- Transitional - during the third week of life.
- Socialization - extends from 4 to 10 weeks, and during the period between 4 to 8 weeks old, it is crucial that primary social relationships are formed. Lack of socialization is the major reason why dogs become fearful of people, other dogs, other animals, or the environment.
- Juvenile - 10 weeks of age until sexual maturity.
- Adolescence and Adulthood - once puberty and sexual maturity have occurred, the dog can be considered an adult. Adolescence is between 6 months and 2 years of age.
In most cases, dogs suffering from anxiety will develop behavioral issues or bodily reactions to a particular stimulus that is causing their panic and anxiety.
The most common form of anxiety in dogs is separation anxiety. This can occur when a dog is left alone for any period of time.
Dog anxiety in general typically doesn't just disappear on its on. However, its effect can be effectively managed using therapeutic grade essential oils
Just like any other health condition, a dog suffering from this kind of problem will also need to seek professional help from their veterinarian to identify the underlying cause.
How to Tell If a Dog Has Anxiety
How is it possible to tell if your dog is suffering from anxiety without them being able to communicate that to you verbally?
Well actually, it’s quite simple. Dogs are intelligent creatures and are able to express what they are thinking and how they feel through body language and behavior.
Symptoms of dog separation anxiety
- Excessive barking or howling when left alone
- Inappropriate defecation or urination when left alone
- Destructive chewing or scratching of windows, walls, doors, digging up of carpet and flooring in front of closed doorways when left alone
- Self-mutilation behavior which can result in the formation of lick granulomas (a thick, firm oval-shaped plaque that results from the excessive licking of the lower leg)
- Aggression exhibited toward the owners when they leave the house
Lavender Essential Oil Combo
Lavender essential oil has several health benefits including: reducing anxiety and emotional stress. Vivorific’s Lavender essential oil is: 100% Pure and natural, free from fillers, additives and harmful chemicals, vegan and kosher certified and sealed with tamper evident closure and Euro style dropper cap.
Dog Separation Anxiety Prevention & Treatment
Adopting a puppy at the right age that has had the proper socialization and handling and leaving it alone for short periods of time is the best way to ensure that your dog will not develop separation anxiety.
Effective ways to prevent and treat a dog with separation anxiety
- Start as early as possible, still allowing for the normal behavioral development of the puppy with its mother, and not weaning earlier than 8 weeks of age.
- Provide a special toy or treat that is given only when your puppy is in his crate.
- Teaching obedience and discipline will cause your puppy to be more confident, secure and calm in any situation.
- Exercise and play with your dog before you leave him. This can help him to relax and be comfortable when left alone.
- While dog anxiety medication is available (i.e. Clomipramine, Prozac or nutritional supplements such as the amino acid called L-theanine - brand name Anxitane or Composure), holistic veterinarians prefer to use homeopathic remedies that are based on your puppy's personality and constitution.
- Trying a technique called ‘timed departures’...
Dog Noise Anxiety / Dog Noise Phobia
Dog noise anxiety, or noise phobias, includes fear of thunderstorms and other loud noises such as fireworks, gunshots, sirens, car alarms or vacuum cleaners.
Causes of Dog Noise Anxiety
There is no way to know for certain what causes a dog to become afraid of loud noises. There are probably multiple reasons for noise phobia, and the reasons vary from dog to dog.
The most obvious reason is the loud noise. However, the cause of fear may not be limited to noise.
Essential Oils for Dog Anxiety that can be used to calm and focus our dogs
Essential oils can be used to calm and focus our dogs during training and showing. They can also be used to ease discomfort during transportation or thunderstorms! Essential oils can be used to uplift the mood of dogs when they are going through loss, separation or new home changes.
Uplifting Essential Oils
Oils that are uplifting are good for stress, separation issues, and older dogs. Here are some uplifting essential oil suggestions:
- Citrus Fresh Essential Oil- support mental wellness and can aid in concentration, ease stress and are generally uplifting!
- Orange Fresh Essential Oil
- Jasmine Essential Oil
- Mental Clarity Essential Oil- good for older dogs; it is excellent for focus and concentration
Calming Essential Oils for Dog Anxiety
Oils that are calming are generally grounding and calming. Here are a few noteworthy suggestions:
- Valerian Essential Oil
- Vetiver Essential Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Aromatherapy & Essential Oils for Dog Anxiety
The term “aromatherapy” was coined in the 1920s to describe the use of essential oils for their healing properties. Essential oils therapeutically trigger emotions and moods as the brain interprets scent.
When using aromatherapy for dogs with anxiety it is very important to use high-quality essential oils diluted to the appropriate concentration.
A quick way to use aromatherapy for your dogs is just to spray the mixture onto your dog’s body (avoiding the face) when a stressful situation is pending or occurring.
Be very careful to follow the instructions. Essential oils are extremely potent. Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and if it is too strong it could cause issues.
They will be safe if you do NOT make the recipes stronger than suggested.
Ways to Use Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is used in a variety of ways. Application methods include inhalation during an event.
This can be done by spraying a small amount of the diluted mixture onto an area that your dog likes to be. For instance, the bed or blanket. You may also diffuse the essential oil (using an essential oil diffuser) before, during, and after an event. A third way is to spray a diluted mixture onto your dog’s body (avoiding the face) before, during, and after event.
Essential Oil Recipes
Essential oils are often added to carrier oils before they are applied topically. Carrier oils are critical because they dilute the oils to make them safe to apply directly.
If you would like to diffuse the essential oils, then the recipes don’t need to be diluted with carrier oils. To diffuse, put undiluted essential oils into an aromatherapy diffuser that is specifically designed for use with essential oils.
Make sure the diffuser is on very low and keep it away from the dogs. It is important to read the instructions for the diffuser to find out how much space it will cover.
General Anxiety Blends
3- 4 oz. carrier e.g. sweet almond oil
5-10 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
5-10 drops Roman chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis)
3 – 4 ounces carrier (e.g. sesame oil)
6-8 drops Valerian (Valerian officinalis)
6-8 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
3-4 drops Clary Sage (Salvia sclerae)
3-4 drops Sweet Marjoram (Organum Majorana)
3 – 4 ounces carrier (e.g. aloe Vera oil)
8-10 drops of Neroli (Citrus aurantium)
6-8 drops of Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
4-6 Drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Beware: Essential Oils for Dog Anxiety are potent
A single drop of a plant’s essential oil is more than 75 times stronger than the natural plant equivalent.
While essential oils can be beneficial for dogs, if not diluted, essential oils become dangerous for use on dogs and should not be used unless diluted directly onto a dog.
Many dilutions use alcohol which enables the oil to blend with the water.
You will need 3-4 ounces of a carrier (sweet almond oil, sesame oil, Jojoba Oil, avocado oil, and Aloe Vera gel) which will dilute the essential oil. (For each recipe choose one carrier).
Place ingredients into a small bottle (preferably glass). You can rub 2 to 3 drops of any of the recipes you have made and apply it to the edge of your dog’s ears, between the toes, on his inner thighs, or under the area, we might call the armpits.
You can also apply a mixture from behind the neck and down the body.
For a spray mist instead, use 10 ounces of water per every 20 drops. Put the mixture in a spray bottle.
You can spray this mixture onto your dog’s bed, a favorite blanket or directly onto your dog (avoiding the face).
When water is used as the carrier, it’s important to shake the mixture well before each application.
Spray a light mist over your dog during times when they need help settling. If you would like, you can spray a little bit onto your hands and then massage pet your dog’s body to distribute the product.
You can put a tiny bit onto the tips of the ears on the where there is hair. Avoid face and eyes.
Separation Anxiety Blend
3- 4 oz. carrier oil
8-10 drops of Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis)
4-6 drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
4-6 drops of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
You can make a lavender powder for dogs who are anxious and stressed. Baking soda, rice flour, or cornstarch can be used to dilute essential oils, making them safe for dogs.
3 parts of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
2 parts of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
2 parts of Clary Sage (Salvia sclerae)
1 part of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
Use 12 to 15 drops of this essential oil blend per cup of baking soda, or use a blend of baking soda and rice flour. Stir or shake to mix well.
Sprinkle this powder onto a blanket or a pillow that can be taken along during car rides. You can also sprinkle the powder sparingly onto a cushion or inside your dog’s crate or anywhere your dog wants to cuddle up to.
To find therapeutic grade Essential Oils for Dog Anxiety, look for the following:
- Essential oils must be bottled in amber, cobalt or violet glass bottles.
- Look for important information about the oils. Such information should be provided on the label, at the product’s website, or in the product’s brochure.
- The scientific name of the oil as well as the Common name of the oil (i.e., Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender)
- How the oil was extracted
- Country of origin
- Method of cultivation (i.e., organic, cultivated, wild-harvested, etc.) The words “100% pure essential oil”.
- Essential oils are generally expensive, so don’t go for unreasonably cheap oils. Cheap oils are likely to be adulterated. They are not likely to be a therapeutic grade and render them useless.
- Avoid buying essential oils at supermarkets or health food stores instead prepare them yourself
Just be sure that you confirm the safety of using Essential Oils for Dog Anxiety on your dog with a vet who is well-versed in essential oils (especially if your dog has kidney disease or seizure disorders).
Do you have any additional tips for using essential oils for dog anxiety which were not mentioned in the blog post? Share them in the comments below.