I have a 16-year-old dog. Ever since we adopted him at age 3, I’ve tried to keep him away from toxic chemicals. Not once have I put a chemical flea product on his body. Instead, all I use are essential oils to keep the pests away. They work beautifully. I use them with confidence, without worrying that I’m using something that could hurt my dog.
In the past, we’ve also used essential oils to heal a nasty-looking hot spot on my dog’s back. I’d much rather use a natural remedy than steroids, often prescribed for these skin irritations. I’m not saying steroids don’t have their place, if nothing else works. But these are powerful drugs with potentially serious side effects.
However, I do need to stress, up front, that I’m not an animal healthcare expert. So I can’t give medical advice, or make a recommendation. Please check with your own vet before using essential oils on an animal. Never use them on pregnant females or on young puppies. Also, never use essential oils on or around a cat. That’s because cats lack a certain liver enzyme. It’s believed felines cannot metabolize certain compounds found in essential oils.
Can You Use Essential Oils on Pets?
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Chemical flea products are potentially dangerous. Although they’re effective at killing fleas, this comes at a cost. These formulas include a class of chemicals known as pyrethroids, which, unfortunately, are blamed for a number of pet deaths. The Center for Public Integrity noted that these products killed 1,600 pets in one five-year period. Pyrethroids are also linked to brain damage and seizures.
Given the possible downside of using chemical flea products, I decided it just wasn’t worth it. Also, it’s been found that flea collars also expose human family members to potentially toxic chemicals. (One of the last things I want is pyrethroids being left on my carpet and furniture. (Our elderly dog can still jump on the couch.)
Can You Put Essential Oils on a Dog?
I’ve heard of people putting certain essential oils directly on their dog, in an effort to naturally control fleas. However, I didn’t want to do that. Essential oils are very strong. I don’t want to take the chance that my dog would have a reaction. With people, it’s not a good idea to put essential oils directly on the skin, unless you buffer them in an oily carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil.
So, instead, I decided to apply a drop of geranium essential oil directly to my dog’s collar. Not his collarbone, but to his fabric-made collar. The scent seems to last for a few days. Insects, by the way, hate the smell of certain essential oils. That’s why, in the spring, I put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a wet kitchen sponge, and use it to wipe down my counters. This aromatic has an amazing ability to repel ants.
Essential Oil Remedy for Fleas on Dogs
The geranium oil trick seems to work for my dog. However, he doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors. He’d much rather stay in the house. If you live in an area infested with ticks, I can’t guarantee or promise geranium essential oil will protect you and your pet from a tick infestation. This is a big concern, in light of the widespread reports of Lyme disease. So I can’t tell you what to do. (I’m a holistic-minded dog Mom, and not a doctor.)
If you live in a wooded area, and you’re worried about Lyme disease, discuss this with your own physician. That way, you can decide if the risk of using chemical flea products outweighs the benefits.
For us, geranium oil is what we can live with. Another aromatic often used to keep the fleas away is lemongrass essential oil. Both of these are extremely versatile. So you use them for a wide range of other things. For instance, I like to put geranium essential oil (mixed with a carrier oil) on my face because it’s considered a good natural wrinkle fighter.
What Essential Oils are Good for Hot Spots on Dogs?
Hot spots are a common problem. These are red and irritated skin patches. You can see them right through the fur. They’re itchy and uncomfortable. Oftentimes, these are the outward signs of an allergic reaction. I’m not a vet. This is just what I’ve read. If you’re interested in an holistic approach to hot spots, you’ll want to work with your vet to identify any underlying causes. Sometimes, a diet change may be recommended.
Conventional medical treatment may involve steroids to suppress the eruption. However, these are strong drugs. Side effects may include a depressed immune response. That’s why I wanted to try essential oils when my own dog developed a hot spot. If I remember correctly, I mixed about a drop of lavender essential oil with a teaspoon of organic coconut oil. Then I applied this mixture to the hot spot. We got very lucky. After just one application it started to clear.
Essential Oils for Ear Infection in Dog
We are so blessed. Our dog sees a group of vets whom are very open to alternative medicine. So we’re able to discuss different approaches at each visit. This was always the best practice in our area. But, in recent years, it’s definitely taken a more holistic path.
If your dog has an ear infection, you’ll need to visit your vet to rule out anything serious, which can potentially cause hearing loss. At that visit, you may be able to talk about using essential oils to treat recurring infections or for maintenance. From what I understand, the most common pharmaceutical to treat canine ear infections can be used in between infections, in an effort to keep them away.
A couple of years ago, our dog developed redness on the inside of his ears. We were able to successfully tackle this with lavender essential oil and geranium essential oil. We added a few drops of each to a tablespoon of pure olive oil. We used a !-tip to put a small amount of the mixture directly under his ear flap, where we saw the redness. We didn’t put the Q-tip inside the ear canal.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils or herbal or homeopathic remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.