By Liz Reyes, CPDT-KA
Many dog trainers, veterinarians, and animal care providers have turned to Pure, Therapeutic-Grade Essential Oils to use in place of toxic and harmful ingredients commonly found in pet products. Personally, as a dog trainer of twenty-five years and a mother to four rambunctious, accident prone little girls, I have turned to essential oils to replace our over the counter medicines, use as our first aid, replace all of our personal skin care products and cleaning products. Myself and lots of dog trainers all throughout the nation, have turned to the use of high, quality essential oils to help our clients with dogs that have anxiety issues, behavioral issues, fears and phobias, aggression, and even health care issues. Dogs that came completely unglued at the Fourth of July, now rest peacefully throughout the night with essential oils being diffused in the room. Or, dogs that couldn’t ride in a car without experiencing motion sickness, can now ride comfortably when oil is petted onto them prior to getting into the car. How is this possible? Are Essential Oils a passing fad or ancient medicine? Learn why essential oils may be a great alternative for you and your beloved pet!
What is an Essential Oil?
Many people assume essential oils are akin to olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil. Essential oils are very different than fatty, vegetable oils. Some people call them the “life force” of the plant and the plant’s own immune system. They are basically the volatile, aromatic liquid of the plant. Volatile simply means the essential oil can quickly absorb and quickly evaporate. The molecules in essential oils are extremely small making it easy for them to penetrate through the layers of skin very quickly and float through the air. Our brains have a barrier surrounding it that acts like a sieve and only allows tiny molecules to pass through. Most medications cannot pass the blood-brain barrier. However, essential oils can.
Essential oils are distilled from the plant, from the leaves, from the roots, flowers, and various parts from plants, flowers, and trees. They are much more potent than herbs. With herbs, 70% of the plant material is dead; while 30% is left over has the health benefits. This means you have to use a lot more of the herbs over a longer period of time to get the desired results.
Whereas, when essential oils have been grown, harvested and distilled properly, they will contain ALL of those wonderful healing properties or chemical constituents that were in the plant are now in the essential oil. You have essential oils that work much quicker than dried herbs. For example, one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to twenty six cups of peppermint tea. That is pretty powerful!
Are essential oils new?
They are not a fad. They are actually very old. Essential oils were used in Roman times in political buildings, bath houses, and in the temples to invigorate and ward off disease. According to Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Frankincense was used for everything from a “broken head” to gout. The Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian Medical scroll has over 800 different herbal recipes in it.
Not all essential oils are created equal.
It’s important to know that not all essential oils are created equal, especially when using them on our pets. Essential oils have gotten a bad rap in years past because inferior quality oils were used and in many cases, caused harm to household pets. Most of the essential oils that you find in the health food stores are filled with synthetic ingredients in them to “stretch” them and make them more profitable to make. Being regulated by the cosmetic industry, the standard is allowed for a label to say “100% organic” as long as one ingredient is organic. That means you can have organic lavender in the essential oil, along with synthetic properties and still be considered “organic”. When looking at the label of an essential oil, some things that can tip you off that the oil may not be “Pure, Therapeutic Grade” essential oil is the fact that they label will have statements such as, “Do not take internally”, “Call poison control if consumed”, “Do not use on the skin” or have an expiration date. A properly made essential oil will not need an expiration. When King Tut’s tomb was discovered, alabaster jars with oil were discovered. Scientists tested the oils and found they were still viable 3,000 years later! When properly produced, the only thing that will make an oil go bad is leaving it in a car on a hot summer day, or leaving it in the sun. Otherwise, your oil should last at least 3,000 years!
Questions to ask.
When selecting an essential oil for your beloved, four-legged companion be sure to look for an essential oil with a food label. The oil should be not only be safe to apply to the skin but also to consume internally and used as aromatherapy. In fact, most Veterinarians that regularly use essential oils in their practice only recommend Young Living Essential Oils.
After doing my research, I discovered some basic questions to ask when selecting a brand of Essential Oils to use on your pets as well as yourself and family:
Some oils are considered “hot” oils and can be neutralized with a carrier oil such as organic coconut oil, or olive oil. Basically, the molecules of certain oils like oregano or cinnamon enter the skin at a much faster rate causing a sensation of heat. The fatty oil slows down the molecules and neutralizes the heat sensation. It does not dilute the essential oil.
A few basic, everyday oil that most dog trainers rely on to have in their “medicine cabinet” are:
• Frankincense is safer, less strong oil that is a favorite for smaller pets and birds. It is used in every aspect of pet care, including wounds, tumors, behavior issues, infections bacteria, fungus, and more. It is one of the best all-around oils to use.
• Lemon is also a great, all-around oil. Lemon is used to increase cognitive awareness in training. It is excellent as an anti-parasitic. It is great to use in combination with other oils. It is excellent for skin, subcutaneous conditions, and tumors. Caution: Citrus oils are photosensitizing. They are great oils to put in water bowls to have your dog drink. Avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight or full spectrum UV light within 24 hours.
• Peppermint is highly anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, antiparasitic for worms, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, gall bladder and digestive stimulation, pain relief, and appetite suppressant. It is useful for any injury. Simply place on the spot of injury to reduce inflammation and pain. Peppermint will also cool over-heated dogs very quickly. It’s a great oil to keep on hand while out on a hike. To cool your dog down quickly, place a drop on their tongue. Peppermint is a good “driving” oil which means that it appears to enhance the penetration of other oils. Peppermint is great for arthritis, diarrhea, and vomiting.
• Lavender is ideal for injuries as well. It is very gentle, yet non-infectious. When combined with peppermint, it increases healing, and decreases pain and infection. It can repel parasites. It is extremely calming and recommended for anxious, fearful, or over-active dogs. Do you have a dog that is fearful of car rides? Try lavender. Lavender is also highly anti-tumoral and is helpful for masses.
The following are essential oils blends are available from Young Living.
• Purification is excellent for parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. We like to make squirt bottles of it and use it as our flea repellant. We spray it on us and the dogs before going on a hike. It is also great for controlling odors. Try water misting it on your dog’s smelly bed! It is also great to place on bug bites. Our kids have had several bee and wasp stings and after placing this combination of oils on the sting, the pain instantly went away leaving no swelling or red marks.
• Pan Away is the best oil to use for pain after an injury. It is great for dental extractions, osteo-arthritis pain, or post – surgery. Teryn Hartnett used Pan Away and Valor on her German Shepherd after her dog came up lame while playing “fetch”. Her dog was non-weight bearing. The Veterinarian said that her dog had a severe soft tissue injury and would need to be in a splint and stay crated for six weeks. Instead, Teryn applied Pan Away and Valor to the leg, over the swelled tissue immediately after injury and continued to do so for a week. Within 3 days, her dog was putting complete weight down on the injured leg, and the swelling had disappeared. Her dog was back to ALL normal activities within a week.
• Valor is useful for dogs with fear, anxiety, and behavior issues. It is useful for skin masses, itching, allergies, and infections. Sue Specht owns a Maltese Mix who suffers from epilepsy. One day she witnessed her dog in the middle of a seizure. She remembered that Valor can help. She applied Valor to her dog and her dog instantly stopped seizing, relaxed and lied down. A few days later, she saw the signs that her dog was about to have a seizure. Again, she applied Valor and her dog relaxed and went to sleep. Veterinarians use Valor before setting bones. It is called “the Chiropractor in the bottle” because it helps aligns physiology.
• Peace & Calming is also excellent for dogs with fear, anxiety, sound sensitivities, easily excitable, or active dogs. Veterinarians use it on dogs before facing wound treatment. Karen Widaman owns four dogs that get very anxious at the Fourth of July. They whine, bark, and pace all night long every year. Last Fourth of July, she diffused Peace & Calming in the bedroom while the dogs were barking and pacing in the front of the house. After about twenty minutes, they discovered the room with the diffuser and peacefully went to sleep. In all her years of owning them, they have never done that!
• Thieves is nature’s potent antibiotic. Scientists have studied it and discovered that is 99.96% effective in killing germs, bacteria, and viruses. Dr. Edward Close, an environmental engineer found that it is 100% effective in killing mold and fungus in a room, even behind sheetrock when diffused for 24-48 hours. It can be used on injuries or as an antibiotic. In one scientific study, it was found to kill MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) within two minutes of contact. It is considered a “hot” oil and may need to be used with a carrier oil.
Karen Widaman of It’s A Dog’s World K-9 Academy, Inc. in Chino says that since incorporating the use of essential oils with client’s dogs she has seen faster breakthroughs in cases of aggression, anxiety, and fear. Dogs that were once timid and took time to come out of their shell, open up within moments of applying an oil, making training easier. “I use an essential oil on a four year old Collie that is a rescue and is extremely anxious and sensitive to sounds. He whines and paces constantly and has difficulty focusing. After applying essential oils, he calms down and stays calm most of the day. When I don’t use the oil, it is very difficult for him to focus during our training sessions.”
If you intend to incorporate the use of Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, I encourage you to do your homework as and find the company that has extremely high standards in producing their oils. For assistance in learning how to use them properly, contact a Dog Trainer or Veterinarian that has extensive experience in working with essential oils. For more information on ordering Young Living Essential Oils click here. The aforementioned oils, plus Stress Away and a diffuser can all be found in Young Living’s Premium Kit for $150.
Note: The information provided in this article is NOT intended to be taken as medical advice. Do not alter any medical treatment, or the use of medication without the permission of your medical care provider. The information in the article is for educational purposes only.