Some of my chihuahuas sure are 'nervous nellies'! I'm thankful that I have tools in my toolbox to help calm them down and support their emotions! One of those tools is essential oils and I get asked quite a lot 'what essential oils are best for calming dogs?' Well.. with 7 chihuahuas in the house, let's talk about how I use essential oils to help calm them down when they get nervous and scared or just seem to have some worry.
First, you want to start now...while your dog is calm. Don't wait until your dog is 'sooo nervous' and then dump a bunch of oils on him...thats a recipe for 'not helpful'. You want to introduce essential oils to your dog in a positive way and have them associate positive and loving feelings with them.
Starting now gets your dog used to essential oils in that positive way. If you put on an essential oil and cuddle or diffuse an essential oil during playtime, your dog will associate positive feelings with essential oils. Then when you need them for calming, not only will the essential oil help relax your dog, but it will also bring back the feelings of calmness and love, or fun, that your dog associates with the essential oil, by you anchoring it in during that positive experience. Think about when you smell certain scent and it brings back memories...good or bad!
Next start low and slow....the easiest way is for you to be a walking diffuser for your dog, Dogs have upwards of around 200 million scent receptors and your dog will smell and have benefits just by you wearing essential oils as a perfume. Simply apply a drop of essential oil in your palm, rub your hands together, inhale deeply for at least 5 seconds, (this gets the essential oil into your emotional center so you can remain calm and be a strong leader for your dog) then apply the residue to the back of your neck or wrists. There is also some fun diffuser jewelry on the market that you can google too! You can also apply a drop to leather, clay, or wood jewelry that you already have as well. Just keep in mind some essential oils may darken the area you apply it to...apply the essential oil to an inconspicuous area.
Next, try an essential oil diffuser, that way you can run the diffuser as needed during holidays like the Fourth of July or New Years, when neighbors shoot off those darn fireworks. Or, here, where I live, we have a summer 'monsoon' season. Daily thunderstorms can happen so I usually start the diffuser each afternoon to help with the thunder.
Many essential oil diffusers are on the market, it's best to use one in which the essential oils are dispersed without heat. Essential oils contain many molecules from the plant that it is distilled from, that we can benefit from. Heat degrades essential oils and we want all the benefits from the essential oil! The most common essential oil diffuser that doesn't use heat is an 'ultrasonic diffuser'. You add water and depending on the diffuser usually around 4-8 drops of essential oil. When just staring out, use a low amount, like 2-4 drops, and give your dog an out. Keep in mind, our dogs may choose to be with us even if they are getting uncomfortable, so be sure to watch for signs like watery eyes, scratching, or stumbling that could indicate the essential oil is too much for them. You don't ever want to lock your dog up somewhere with a diffuser running! You can check out one of my favorite diffusers HERE
Sometimes even by wearing an essential oil or having a diffuser going, I have still needed some additional support. In that case, I apply an essential oil topically. Remember, not all essential oils are created equal and if you are going to use them with your dogs, make sure you are using a high quality premium essential oil! Read your labels! You also need to dilute them. My easy button for dilution is to simply add a dollop of a carrier oil to the palm of my hand, add a drop of essential oil, rub my hands together and then pet my dog along the spine. If ya want to follow a certain dilution ( usually 5-10% is adequate for dogs) click HERE for my quick and easy dilution guide). My favorite carrier oil is fractionated coconut oil. It's simply coconut oil processed to stay liquid and it absorbs quickly and doesn't tend to leave an oily residue. I have also used olive oil and regular coconut oil, simply because I already have them in my kitchen.
Now you may be wondering which essential oil to use....Glad you asked:) I'm going to give you a list of my top essential oils to use for calming and relaxation.....Why a list? Because every dog is different and responds to essential oils in different ways. One of my Chihuahuas loves Cedarwood, but another one doesn't, so when he's scared, I bust out the Frankincense, which tends to work well for him. Remember, introduce your dog beforehand to essential oils and associate them with a positive experience. Pick an essential oil from this list and see what happens! If your dog doesn't like it, or it doesn't create the desired effect you're looking for, try another one. Don't be afraid to experiment!
I like to use Young Living Essential Oils™. They have a Seed To Seal™ guarantee (check it out HERE) which insures that I'm using a high quality and premium essential oil that's safe for my dogs. I put an essential oil blend called Valor™ on the list. I find it to be a very grounding and balancing essential oil blend that can work really well for some of my chi's during times of stress. I'm always wearing it during a car ride-haha! One of my chiweenies, JR, loves it.
You can also create a blend for your diffuser or for a perfume for yourself, using the above mentioned essential oils. I would recommend that first you introduce your dog to essential oils one at a time and see how they respond. Remember, you dont want to overwhelm their nose! Then when you have been using them awhile with your dogs, start with the blends. Here is a favorite blend I use in my diffuser for calming
2 Drops Copaiba
1 Drop Cedarwood
1 Drop Lavender
If you need more help using essential oils with your dogs, be sure to subscribe to 'The Weekly Oiler' HERE