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Integrative Therapies: Aromatherapy For Pets

Posted January 15, 2016

Integrative therapies, from massage to naturopathic remedies for pets are seeing an exciting resurgence in pet care! As we continue our look at integrative veterinary care, we examine using aromatherapy for pet health and pet behavioral problems—discussing possible cautions and efficacy of aromatherapy.

Click here to view part 1 in this series: “Integrative Therapies: Acupuncture for pets”.

What Is Aromatherapy For Pets?

Aromatherapy for pets, though not as well known as some other integrative therapies like holistic care or massage for pets, is seeing a growth in popularity as pet owners seek to naturally curb behavioral problems in pets. In it’s simplest definition, aromatherapy for pets is the use of volatile oils to achieve a physical or psychological response.

Although mostly used for behavioral problems, like soothing a stressed out pet or preventing a cat from scratching furniture, aromatherapy has also been used for gastroenteritis, bronchitis, dermatitis, depression, inflammation, and much more.

Is Aromatherapy For Pets Safe?

As we know, cats and dogs have a far superior olfactory sense than us humans. They also use pheromones to communicate. It’s important, therefore, to always use aromatherapy under the guidance of your veterinarian, as some volatile oils can have an adverse affect on your pet.

Volatile oils can be administered topically, however, we at NHV recommend aromatherapy be administered by diffusion (e.g. in spray form) as this is the safest method. If used topically, always apply in an area that your pet cannot lick, as the oils may be toxic. Also, if you do apply the volatile oils topically, be sure to mix the oils with a carrier oil (like olive oil or grape seed oil) as aromatherapy oils can irritate a pet’s skin unless diulted.  Never administer volatile oils orally. Cats in particular are very sensitive to toxicity with phenols and phenols are a major chemical constituent of volatile oils. Used with care and under proper medical guidance, aromatherapy is safe.

Does Aromatherapy for Pets Work?

There is a limited amount of clinical science with aromatherapy, but there have been a few important studies that tout the benefits of aromatherapy. In a study done in 2006 and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a group of dogs was studied during traveling. The study found that the dogs who were exposed to the odor of lavender, were significantly more relaxed. Another study, also found positive results with the diffusion of lavender and chamomile for shelter dogs in promoting less vocalization and increased relaxation.

Do you use aromatherapy for your pet? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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*Product reviews are solely the experience and opinion of the reviewer. Actual results may vary.