For people with dogs, canine anxiety can be beyond vexing, especially if that anxiety results in the dog eating your couch. Or another couch. Or another.
Dogs may stress out if there is a storm, freak over fireworks or lose their furry little minds when their human goes to the store for a gallon of milk. That trip? Just enough time to destroy a couch. Not just cushions. The entire sofa. I know this because my niece has a dog with the worst case of separation anxiety I have ever seen. She has taken out at least five couches, along with pillows, her human sister’s toys and anything accidentally left out for her to grab.
Our new dog has a certain thing for shoes, but as we’ve learned, she doesn’t reserve it for stress. In fact, she’s so chill I am not sure if she ever stresses out. Despite her large size, she’s still a snuggly puppy, and the contours of shoes – along with the smell of her people, which she is still getting to intimately know – make them an excellent teething toy. We train visitors to put their shoes out of Lola’s reach, and I buy her pairs of her own from the deep-discount clearance racks. (As my mother-in-law says, “Whatever Lola Wants,” although our girl was named after the Kinks song because she has markings that look like dark eyeliner, rather than the show tune from “Damn Yankees.” But still, my mother-in-law is not wrong. Lola might be a bit spoiled.
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Then again, Lola and her sister, Ruby – named after “Ruby Tuesday,” the Rolling Stones song, not in any way the fast-casual restaurant – live with me, a dog mom receptive to using essential oils to help improve the lives of our pets. My niece, not so much. But it’s her couch budget, after all.
Dog Anxiety is No Joke
Anxiety, especially separation anxiety, can be a serious problem for dogs as well as their owners, who not only hate to buy all those couches but hate to see their dogs under stress.
To enhance the lives of your pets, finding ways to deal with doggie anxiety is important. We all know that stress in humans elevates levels of cortisol, causing sugar cravings that can lead to weight gain, along with a host of other negative health issues. But have we considered the adverse health effects of stress on dogs?
According to the website iheartdogs.com, stress in dogs can cause aggression issues, depression, behavioral issues (all those couches), digestive problems, excessive licking, trouble remembering house training rules, and a weakened immune system.1
Essential Oils Ease Stress, Anxiety
Essential oils can do a lot to help ease anxiety in stressed-out canines, either when used in a diffuser or diluted to be applied topically, as long as you use essentials that are safe for dogs. (Many can be toxic, so it’s vital that you do your research, first. Or in this case, let us do it for you.)2
Essential Oils that Ease Pet Stress
- Lavender essential oil. Lavender is simply wonderful, and it is used in a diffuser in some animal shelters to help calm stressed-out shelter pets. The linalool in lavender can help ease anxiety in your dog, too. Try it in a diffuser, and see how your dog responds. If your furry friend leaves the room, another essential might be a better option.
- Roman chamomile essential oil. This gentle essential is also a good option to ease anxiety in dogs. Chamomile contains both myrcene and beta-pinene, two monoterpenes that help ease anxiety. Myrcene is especially beneficial because its molecules are small enough to cross the blood-brain area. This is where those molecules interact with the neurotransmitters connected to feelings of anxiety.3
- Cedarwood essential oil. Cedarwood has plenty of benefits, acting as a natural pest repellent and stress reliever. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, cedarwood can help ease symptoms of shyness or nervous aggression. Nervous aggression can be mistaken for aggression, which puts a shelter dog at risk of euthanasia if workers can’t tell the difference.
- Ylang ylang essential oil. Ylang ylang has a sweet scent that is at once both soothing and uplifting, making it a great option for dogs and their humans alike, especially if those humans have a career, and can’t spend all day playing fetch with the fur babies.
More Essential Oils
- Bergamot essential oil. This citrus oil can help ease stress by reducing the hormonal response to stress. Since that response to stress is what causes all the health problems, bergamot is a good essential to help protect dogs against the health problems of anxiety.
- Peppermint essential oil. Another essential oil that can benefit dogs is peppermint oil, which can be used to massage sore, arthritis muscles. (Massage immediately reduces stress.) To use, dilute it with a carrier oil, using the 20-80 percent formula in a small dog, which would be one drop of essential oil for every four or five drops of carrier oil, and the 30-70 percent formula in larger dogs, which is three drops of essential for every seven drops of carrier oil.
Talk to your vet for more information about essential oils and dog anxiety. If the alternative is doggie Xanax, essentials are a healthier option at home.
Photo credits: PatrickH/shutterstock.com, LindsayHelms/shutterstock.com