Unfortunately, dogs and other pets have a short lifespan. As they age, they can, and usually do, develop lots of diseases. One of the most common diseases in dogs is arthritis. Naturally, you want to make its life easier. If you’re thinking of using essential oils for dog arthritis, you came to the right place.
In order to do so safely, you need to know a few important things. Here is what you’ll be reading about in this post:
- Joint pain in dogs and what causes it.
- Herbs and essential oils for pain and inflammation in dogs.
- How to use these aromatic oils for dog joints, with directions and explanations.
- A few simple Aromatherapy recipes to improve the life quality of your dog.
- For those interested, a few words on using doTERRA oils on dogs.
- Signs and symptoms of canine arthritis, with tips and precautions for the use of aroma oils.
- Before concluding the article, find some simple, undemanding exercises for your dog. It’ll help by taking some of the pressure off, so the dog feels better and keeps its muscles active.
Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Essential Oils for Dog Arthritis and Pain, How to Use & Recipes
Arthritis or joint pain is a degenerative disease of the joints. An advanced age plays a big role in its development. Other factors may also contribute to putting pressure on the dog’s joints. That leads to more pain and inflammation.
Unfortunately, pets can’t explain to us what and how they feel. So, we’re left to rely only on our sense of observation to make sure they’re feeling alright.
Arthritis is not curable, neither in humans nor in pets. But there are lots of ways and medicines to manage this condition.
It’s not uncommon to be told to give your dog NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). However, they’re very dangerous for the animal’s health.
They’re full of side effects that can even lead to death. This is not something to be ignored. Because of it, many specialists agree upon using natural alternatives.
Managing pain in dogs with arthritis could be done with essential oils. Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence and research done to support their effects. Not when it comes to dogs and other pets.
There is some proof for the effects of essential oils on joint pain and inflammation in humans. This kind of research is not enough either, but what we know so far is very encouraging.
However, this is just a matter of time and funds for now. The interest in natural alternatives for drugs increases every day. Because of it, the interest for research on Aromatherapy and dogs will also increase.
Until that happens, we can make use of many anecdotal remedies such as plants and herbs. They can be used in their pure form or distilled for the extraction of essential oils.
Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Plants for Pain Management
Natural remedies for joint inflammation and pain in dogs should be used only after getting a clear diagnosis. Take the dog to a vet as soon as you notice something’s wrong. The dog may make a visible effort to get up or it starts limping, etc.
These plus the age, are both signs of the disease. I’ll tell you more about the signs and symptoms of dog arthritis in the last part of the post.
Before using drugs on your dog, you could try some natural remedies first. Just make sure you tell the vet about your intention. He’ll know what to recommend or how to keep your dog’s health in check.
- Turmeric – The turmeric powder is rich in curcumin. It’s a substance proven to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies suggest this plant root can be used against many inflammatory diseases. Arthritis is one of these inflammatory diseases.
- Ginger – is a well-documented plant root. It’s got anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects on the joints. It also stimulates their regeneration.
- Capsaicin (chili peppers) – This substance gives the chili their spiciness. A capsaicin extract has pain relieving effects. It can do that by stimulating the circulation. The substance warms up the area where it’s used so the pain and inflammation can be relieved.
- Arnica – This flower is known for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. It can be infused in an anti-inflammatory carrier oil like Tamanu or Nigella. Once that’s done, it can be used for anti-arthritis massage lotions.
- Boswellia extract comes from the oleo gum resin of the Boswellia tree. Its anti-inflammatory effects are given by boswellic acids. These acids are found in Frankincense essential oil only in trace amounts. A high concentration is present in water-based or solvent-derived frankincense extract. It’s been tested and found to have great potential in arthritis treatment.
Unrelated to herbs, but related to arthritis pain relief, there’s the deep sea fish oil. It’s especially good for dogs that don’t tolerate anti-inflammatory drugs.
They could beneficiate from a bit of pain relief from supplements with deep sea fish oil. A study suggests it can be added to the pain management of dogs with arthritis and/or osteoarthritis.
Keep in touch with the veterinarian. He’ll be able to recommend your dog the right dose and administration for these plant extracts.
There are also companies that produce natural drugs. They’re based on plants and essential oils for dog arthritis. They can also be used as alternatives to NSAIDs for dogs. Just make sure you do your research before committing your dog to any herbal treatment.
Essential Oils that Could Help with Dog Arthritis
The benefits of essential oils on health and nervous system are no longer a mystery. There are lots of studies (though not enough) that support these benefits.
- They can relieve anxiety and stress symptoms, relax the muscles and decrease the heart rate.
- They promote sleep and at the same time, Aromatherapy can also give you energy.
- Physically speaking, aroma oils have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. Thus, they can be used for arthritis pain in dogs too.
These aromatic essences are very concentrated plant extracts. They’re a lot more concentrated than teas and tinctures, but less concentrated than drugs.
That is also why essential oils are considered an alternative to NSAIDs. Their side effects are not as many as those of drugs.
Each aromatic essence is unique in chemical composition. Therefore, they all have different benefits and effects on the body. The results are sometimes the same, but the way they get there is different. The geographical area and the time of harvest influence the chemical profile of the essence.
The extraction method as well as its bottling can also have an impact. That’s why, it’s always wise to test every new oil bottle for allergic reactions. Even if you’ve used it before, chances are it’s not part of the same lot.
Essential oils for dog arthritis should not be used as blanket therapy. This refers to the treatment of groups of animals rather than individualized health care plans.
Treating groups is more cost-effective than to do so for each animal. The latter requires prior testing and formulating personalized treatment plans. This method is obviously safer and actually recommended.
An essential oil reacts and interacts differently with each individual, be it animal or human.
I should mention here that dogs can metabolize essential oils just like humans. They can eliminate them in a matter of a few hours, instead of days, like cats.
This however, doesn’t mean that all aromatic oils are safe or can be used as you please. We’ll see more on how to use them soon.
Cats are the ones with a missing liver enzyme. They are more sensitive and prone to health complications around essential oils.
You can read more about it in these posts:
- Diffusing Essential Oils around Cats! Is it Safe or Not?
- (Safe Aromatherapy) Essential Oils for Cats, Precautions and Tips
That being said, let’s see what are some of the best essential oils for dog joints (pain and inflammation). Some essences can be used topically and by diffusion, others are better used in just one way.
Check these lists out and remember that they don’t contain all possible essences. The rest need to be researched in advance.
Essential Oils for Dog Arthritis and Muscle Pain (Topical Use)
- Atlas Cedarwood
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Spanish Lavender
- Rosemary ct. Camphor
- Balsam Fir
- Rose Geranium
- Blue Tansy
- Tea Tree
- Roman Chamomile (up to 5% concentration)
About the use of Peppermint essential oil for dogs, it can be used in a concentration of up to 2%. It’s not recommended for puppies and young dogs though. There’s a high risk of lowering the animal’s body temperature and causing hypothermia. It can also induce seizures.
Essential Oils for Pain and Inflammation in Dogs (Diffusion)
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Tea Tree
- Lavender varieties.
These essential oils can help a dog’s joints too, but they’re better at stimulating the immune system. That way, the arthritis pain will be less intense for your dog.
What about Frankincense oil? It’s such a popular essence and good for almost everything. However, it’s not as effective as the water-based or solvent-extracted frankincense.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be used at all. Frankincense essential oil can be diffused for other purposes too. It is soothing and calming and can also boost the immune system.
You can use Frankincense oil for dog arthritis, but the effects may be felt only by those with mild to moderate pain.
How to Use Essential Oils for Dog Arthritis
First, it’s important to seek medical advice before turning to any essential oil remedy for arthritis. These aromatic oils must be used in small enough amounts to avoid long-term toxicity.
But they also need to be concentrated enough to work and relieve the pain and inflammation. My point is that an aromatherapy specialized vet would know what dose to recommend. He should also be able to tell you how to administer the oil(s).
Generally speaking, you can use aromatic oils on your dog in two ways:
- Topical – It’s very important to use essential oils for arthritis pain in dogs, ONLY after dilution. They should be mixed with a certain amount of carrier (vegetable) oil. For a human for example, a 1% dilution ratio is 6 drops of EO per Oz carrier. This dose should be personalized depending on the weight and size of the dog. As I said, it’s important to talk to the vet first. An essential oil blend massage can greatly improve the dog’s life quality.
- Diffusion – This method involves the inhalation of the oil molecules in as much as 70% of the oil concentration. It’s the best way of enjoying truly potent effects. However, Aromatherapy diffusion needs to be done correctly. Always keep a window cracked open during and after diffusion. Fresh air needs to circulate to avoid nausea, vomiting, etc. Dogs are extremely sensitive to smells! They have about two hundred million smell receptors. It’s so much more even than the cat. So yes, the scent of just one drop of essential oil can be as powerful as twenty for you! Leave the door open so the dog can leave if it’s too much to bear. Some of the best aroma diffusers are called nebulizers. They diffuse the oils just as they are: pure and undiluted. You could also use aroma-stone diffusers or ultrasonics.
If you want to treat dog pain, most essential oils can also be used with a compress. They can be hot compresses or cold compresses, or you can alternate between them. They should be applied and held onto the painful joint for up to 10 minutes.
Otherwise, the body might trigger a defense mechanism against too much heat or cold. At that point, the compress stops being useful.
Heat is a very good pain reliever in general. It improves the blood circulation, which means more oxygen and nutrients to the joints. Heat is helpful in the process of tissue repairing.
It also improves the dog’s ability to move and help it feel better in general. Make sure that the dog rests in warm environments to benefit from these effects.
Some sources recommend using the Raindrop technique as massage for dogs. I would not go that far though. It uses excess amounts of undiluted essential oils. This may cause lots of health problems for your dog.
First, there’s always the risk of sensitization, which you can’t recover from. Once an area becomes sensitive to an essence, it’ll always react badly to it. Second, some oils can also burn the skin and make other conditions worse.
Essential Oil Recipes for Dog Arthritis
Now you know how to use essential oils for dog arthritis. The way they’re used plus the dose have a direct impact on the treatment’s results. These should be established together with a specialized veterinarian.
Once that’s settled, you can adapt it to the following recipes. Please keep in mind that in these recipes, for safety reasons, I’ll be using the minimum amounts. This means that for some animals, the blend might not have the expected results. It may also mean that for smaller dogs, the blend can be too strong.
Alternative Dog Rheumatism Essential Oil Recipe
- Wintergreen essential oil: 1 drop
- Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil: 3 drops
- Pine essential oil: 2 drops
- Arnica/Hemp/ Tamanu oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Give the blend a good shake before each use to activate the oil molecules. Apply on the affected area with massage movements or a hot compress.
Make sure the dog doesn’t start licking the blend. You can apply a moderate amount, 2 – 3 times a day, for a week or as often and long as suggested by a vet.
Warning! Wintergreen should not be used on dogs with circulation problems. It acts just like aspirin.
Dog Pain & Inflammation Aroma Recipe
- Rosemary essential oil (ct. camphor): 6 drops
- Olive or Tamanu oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Shake and apply on the painful joints, a few times a day.
doTERRA Essential Oils for Pets
Because they are so very popular and I get many questions about doTERRA products, I decided to dedicate some attention to the topic.
I know many of you are probably either doTERRA advocates or simply fans. In which case, I get why you’d want to know more about their essential oils that can be used for dog arthritis.
The company began its activity 10 years ago. Ever since, they’ve become one of the major leaders in Aromatherapy-related products. doTERRA has many individual essential oils that can be used for dog arthritis. They also have some proprietary blends that could work just as well.
However, I don’t recommend using these oils (and all the others!) before consulting with a vet first. Your dog can’t talk and the signs and symptoms of adverse effects can be misleading.
If you’re a doTERRA fan and you have dogs, this article can shed some light on their safe use. Everything I said up until now is applicable for doTERRA essential oils for dog arthritis too.
Unfortunately, there is no official doTERRA dog care guide. That would have made things much easier. But, there are some guidelines you can use to choose the best doTERRA oil for your dog(s).
- Make sure the dog’s diagnosis is arthritis. Take it to the vet for a close investigation and talk about your intention of using alternative remedies.
- Upon the vet’s suggestions, you can start researching each aromatic oil. Look for side effects and interactions with foods or drugs. Some of them come with important precautions. This information can be found anywhere on the internet. It doesn’t have to come from doTERRA itself. I noticed they don’t give as much information as one would need about their oils.
- Once the research is done, you can go ahead and choose your oils from doTERRA. It can be an advocate or online directly (the company’s site or Amazon).
- If you’re not sure about the quality of a certain oil, don’t hesitate to ask for the GC/MS report. That’s where you’ll see the extraction method and the main constituents of the oil. This should not be the case however, as doTERRA has its own purity testing process called CPTG. The initials stand for Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. You should also know that there is no system or official regulating body that gives grades to oils. This is just the company’s marketing strategy. The best Aromatherapy oils are simply 100% pure and unadulterated.
Here are some of the best doTERRA essential oils for dog arthritis:
- Blue Tansy
- Douglas Fir
- Geranium (Rose)
- Sweet Marjoram
- Tea Tree
- Roman Chamomile
If you’re looking for doTERRA essential oils for allergies, you can count on Blue Tansy or German Chamomile. I’ve told you that there isn’t much scientific proof about the effects of oils on dogs. But, anecdotal evidence shows that Lavender oil can be used for dog anxiety.
Signs & Symptoms of Canine Arthritis, plus Tips, Precautions & Pain Management Exercises
Whether they’re human or animal, after years of use, joints wear down. It’s the cartilage that keeps them smooth and pain-free. Once it starts to erode and weaken from the wear and tear, it gets inflamed and swollen.
So does the tissue and muscles around the cartilage. The inflammation leads to pain and discomfort. Osteoarthritis is the first of a wide range of arthritic affections of the joints.
Besides normal wear and tear, a weak immune system can be another cause for dog arthritis. This weak immune system is caused, mainly, by a poor diet when the dog was growing up.
The good news about it is that a weak immune system can be strengthened. Most essential oils for dog arthritis can also stimulate it.
The most at risk are large and overweight dogs. The latter can also be corrected with diet and a lot of exercise.
With dogs, it’s easier to spot the signs and symptoms of arthritis than it is with cats. Unless the dog is very old and grey, it is usually very active.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
- Difficulty moving around or getting up.
- Limping, usually with the affected leg.
- Lameness of hind leg(s).
- Abnormally hunched posture.
- Tired most of the time.
- Biting or excessive licking/chewing of the affected joint.
A dog with joint pain or arthritis can simply lack the energy or mood it used to have for daily activities. If this is something you see often in your dog, you should take it to the vet for an investigation.
Useful Tips, Signs of Poisoning and Precautions
We all want what’s best for our pets. Still, because of insufficient information, we may at times, do more harm than good. Check out the following tips and precautions so you can give your dog the best care possible.
- First of all, I recommend talking to the vet before giving your dog any supplements. Some of them can deplete the body of other essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. They could also interact with medication or simply cause gastrointestinal problems. There are many human studies that don’t support the use of dietary supplements. Especially not without a thorough medical investigation. The doctor would know if the supplement will help or not. He must first take some blood samples and see how the dog is doing.
- NSAIDs, especially used on a long term, are very dangerous for the dog. Not only do they cause side effects like vomiting or dizziness, but they can also cause internal damage. Bleeding or liver failure are just a few examples. Which is why essential oils for dog arthritis are a good alternative.
- Too much essential oil for a dog can lead to poisoning. The signs are heavy breathing or panting, drooling and squinting eyes. A lethargic state can also be a sign. The first thing to do in this case is to take the dog out, for fresh air. Call the poison control center next or take the pet to the vet immediately.
- Adult, healthy dogs are usually safe from most side effects. The other categories however, are not. Newborn and puppies (up until 6 months old) and old dogs are the most sensitive. Use caution with them and seek vet help and advice.
- If you diffuse essential oils for dog arthritis, it’s best to do so in small bursts. 10 – 15 minutes tops, every 2 hours or more, is a good start. Keep the room well-ventilated and the doors open so the dog can leave when it wants to.
- Don’t force an essence on the dog and don’t keep the dog caged or tented during diffusion.
- Pay careful attention when diffusing or using certain aromatic oils around your dog(s). Camphor, Rosemary, Oregano, Peppermint, Clove bud, Tea Tree, etc. are safe only in occasional small doses. Wintergreen and Sweet Birch for example, should be used only with medical supervision. They have aspirin-like effects and can interact with blood-thinners.
- Always dilute your oils and avoid putting it on its fur. Oral ingestion of essential oils is not recommended without medical approval.
Every doubt and uncertainty should be addressed right away. Avoid the use of Aromatherapy remedies for your dog’s joint and/or muscle pain if you’re not sure. It’s better to wait and ask a specialist first.
Simple Exercises for Dog Arthritis Management
Even though it’s painful and hard to move around with arthritis, exercising is a must. It’s what keeps the muscles toned and irrigated.
A good muscle tone takes the pressure off the joints. So does losing weight. If your dog is overweight (a thing that vets know), a change of diet should be in order.
Some of the best exercising movements your dog could do, need to be:
- Frequent and short, to avoid exertion and tiredness. When the dog is tired or in pain, stop immediately. It’s best to take it slowly at first, to get the dog used to exercising.
- Pleasant and easy for your dog. Avoid forcing it to do something it doesn’t want or requires a lot of energy and stretching. Some of the easiest movements are walking and swimming.
- Be mindful of the importance of warmup and cool down periods for your pet’s joints. Sometimes, when they warm up, dogs don’t feel the pain anymore. That’s when they tend to exaggerate with their activities.
Very Few things in life compare to the feeling of spending quality time with your pet. It is unfortunate to have to see them go through aging and disease. That should not however be an obstacle in trying to give them a happy life until the end.
Luckily, some essential oils for dog arthritis can be of help. They can improve their symptoms and life quality. They can do so better than NSAIDs too, with less side effects. Just make sure you always get a vet’s approval and guidance before using them. It’s the most important part of all, especially if we want to keep them safe and pain-free.
What do you think about Aromatherapy remedies for your dog’s painful joints? Have you tried them so far?