We adopted our lab, Ruby, as an eight-week old puppy. Naturally, as an herbalist and dog-lover, I was curious about which essential oils are good for dogs, particularly, which essential oils are good for fleas, ticks, and tissue recovery, such as after a spay or neuter.
Ruby joined our family in the fall and in Portland, Oregon rain equals mud in fall, so it seemed an easy enough task to include essential oils in her monthly shower and shampooing. To try this at home, add 3-10 drops of therapeutic-quality Lemongrass essential oil to your dog's shampoo with each use, adjusting the amount depending on your dog's size, and scrub down your dog once every month. If you'd like to apply the repellent more frequently, add 15-20 drops of lemongrass to a two ounce stainless steel or glass spray bottle and fill with distilled or tap water (did you know that essential oils leach toxins out of most types of plastic). Also, either add 1/2 tsp of glycerine as an emulsifier or make sure to shake before each use. Spray your pup down and rub the oils into the fur to repel fleas. This has worked very well for us.
Click in below for a video demonstration and party at the dog park.
We occasionally go for a hike in tick country, so if you're wondering how to repel ticks with essential oils, simply use the same recommendations for fleas but opt use half the amount lemongrass and half therapeutic-quality eucaylptus radiata.
Another use for essential oils is one that I used with the intention of supporting Ruby's recovery from surgery after being spayed. I decided on frankincense, lavender, melaleuca, and helichrysum together in a spray blend. They are all gentle and, when used properly, safe for dogs as well as new puppies, and even new born babies (I have used this blend both for postpartum tissue healing and infant care where there is damage to tissues.) Lavender is antiseptic and great for redness, itching, and swelling, melaleuca is antimicrobial and used for a all types of skin conditions, helichrysum is like the arnica of the essential oil world in terms of speeding tissue regeneration, helping to cope with discomfort, and helping with swelling, and frankincense is the KING of essential oils and good for just about everything. In this case, I chose frankincense to expedite tissue regeneration, reduce the potential for scarring, and ease discomfort.
APPLICATION FOR PETS
Ruby doesn't mind her regular flea treatment, but kind of hates essential oils, which is quite obvious by the way she shuns any invitations to smell oils from our family kit. I take this as a clear sign that she's good without a smell and back off. In the case of her post-op blend, however, I'd first hand experience with the exact blend and knew that fresh from the vet, hot pink Elizabethan collar adorned, this spray was what she needed. I used the spray directly on her stitched wound and she startled on the first pump, but then It was a beautiful thing to see. Her eyelids softened and she laid back flat and relaxed and OPENED HER LEG to, I assume, invite me to apply more. These are the kinds of signs that we look for with animals. Green lights, invitations, relaxation. I sprayed her wound three times a day for a few weeks. At her follow-up check up her vet told me that she'd never see such a quick recovery.
I've made a list of top safety tips for use with dogs:
Stephanie McBride is a published writer and certified clinical herbalist who has worked with herbal medicine for over 20 years. She has been in practice as a functional nutritionist and essential oil educator for Daily Nectar since 2009.