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Pets can enjoy the therapeutic effects of aromatherapy as much as humans can. Aside from possibly eliminating bad odors and giving your pet a pleasant perfume, essential oils also serve many practical functions such as boosting your pet's immune system, fighting off bacteria and viruses, preventing the growth of yeasts and molds and repelling insects.
Aromatherapy is used by enthusiasts, groomers and pet salons to trea mild ailments such as skin inflammations, itchy skin ear infections, rashes, bad breath, flatulence and motions sickness. Psychologically, certain oils also have a calming or relaxing effect on animals. For example lavender oil not only helps kitties repel insects but it also makes them feel sleepy or content. Roman chamomile can be used to treat an ear infection as well as soothe the nerves of a dog in pain.
Essential oils are also frequently used as home remedies. However before you attempt to use aromatherapy on your own pets, keep in mind that essential oils are always diluted before they are applied to a pet's skin or sprayed on their coat. Almond oil, olive oil and jojoba oil are common base oils to which a few drops of the essential oil is added. Usually all that is needed is about one ounce of the base oil combined with two to three drops of the essential oil.
Essential oils can also be diluted in a spray bottle and misted onto the pet or the pet's bedding. You can simply dilute a few drops in distilled water or you can use water and a mixture of aloe, witch hazel or cider vinegar. The traditional recommendation is to use 20 to 30 drops of oil per eight ounces of liquid. Any less might not be effective and any more might be toxic to the pet.
Oils can also be diluted in vodka or brandy and dabbed on the bottom of the pet's paws or on an acupressure point such as the tips of the ears. This is the technique to use if you are dealing with a panicky pet. Never feed your pet alcohol or essential oil directly.
Essential oils are also effective flea and tick repellents and are nearly as effective as sprays and powders that contain a lot of toxic chemicals. Oils such as peppermint, citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, geranium, bay and myrrh have been components of herbal flea sprays and flea collars for many years. You can easily make your own flea and tick spray by combining about 25 drops of any of these oils into eight ounces of water. Shake the mixture well and spray it on your pet, being careful to shield its eyes from mist. This mixture can also be sprayed anywhere that you suspect there may be a breeding bug infestation.
When using essential oils it is also essential for you to remember that a dog or cat's sense of smell is much more acute than our own. Signs that an aromatherapy treatment is too overwhelming for your pet are tearing eyes, sneezing, pacing or whining. Cats may lick themselves excessively and dogs may rub their head on the ground in order to escape the smell. Many pets also have allergies to essential oils. For instance, chamomile is related to the ragweed plant, which is a common allergen for both pets and humans. This is why it is so important to use a mild solution at first and use your powers of observation the first few times you use an essential oil mixture on a pet.
******* (c) 2005 Liz Santher - All Rights Reserved
Liz Santher is a aromatherapy enthusiast and freelance author.
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