The Aromatic Dog - A Holistic View

  • Mar, 03 , 21
  • Martina Steege

Our dog, Tucker, is a Belgian Tervuren, who came to us when he was a little puppy. He is now almost 8 years old. I wanted to share a bit about his "health" journey and why a holistic view is so important. The holistic view sees body, mind and environment as one unit, which means that we should look at treating causes, not only symptoms. The aim is to rebalance your dog's whole system so that the body can heal itself.


For example, Tucker's constant itching and skin eruptions were caused by food & grass allergies (we had to switch to lamb for his protein), which we found out by doing a simple saliva test at the vet's office. His symptoms went away fairly quickly, but I also make sure that his paws are always wiped down with apple cider vinegar & water after each walk. I also coat his fur with an insect repellent essential oil blend that I created for him, the base of which is aloe vera gel. The essential oils in that gel base are lavender, cedarwood, kunzea and lemongrass. 


Itching can also be caused by stress, pain or environmental issues (flea bites/toxic plants). Aromatics (essential oils, hydrosols or vegetable oils) can help dogs cope with stress. Apart from everyday stresses of normal life (family changes, moving home, loud noises etc.) there are major causes of stress, such as over vaccination, chemical flea treatments, lack of stimulation, over-stimulation, and more. For example, if your dog is stressed (panting, pacing, restlessness), offer your dog to smell essential oils of Lavender or Roman Chamomile. You should always dilute essential oils when using them with dogs (and with humans, for that matter), because they are potent. A dog's sense of small is so much more sensitive than yours, so make sure that you dilute essential oils in a carrier oil (vegetable oil). For emotional problems/trauma I would put only 1-2 drops essential oil (e.g. Lavender) in 10 ml of carrier oil. That's all it takes! 


A dog's response to smelling an essential oil can be subtle (he/she may just smell the oil, lying down quietly). Inhalation is the most powerful way to deliver essential oils as they go straight up into the brain via the olfactory system. The brain then sends messages to the endocrine system (complex network of glands and organs) which trigger the appropriate responses in the dog's body. This is why just smelling an essential oil can be enough to reduce pain, or relieve itching.

The same goes for using essential oils topically. If your dog as a hot spot or a minor open wound, you may add 1-2 drops of lavender to 10 ml of aloe vera gel and dab it on the problem area. Over the years I created some problem-specific aromatherapy products for Tucker to help with minor skin problems. Feel free to check out my "Pet Section" here on my web site.


Below I listed essential oils that are safe for use with dogs.