Friday, July 8, 2016

Essential oils can help your dog weather environmental irritants

Living close to the ground, dogs encounter a wide variety of irritants as part of their daily lives. Exposure to lawn or pool chemicals, road salts, pollens, viruses and bacteria, or long-term use of medications can cause some dogs to suffer from itching, swelling, skin problems, and other minor illnesses. Over time these irritants can affect your dog’s natural immunity.

When asked to develop a remedy that could safely help dogs with immune system issues, I found several essential oils that have historically been used to bolster the immune system and support the lungs, liver and skin. While essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, cinnamon, bay and thyme can do that, I wanted to formulate something that is both powerful and gentle. Three essential oils really stood out – niaouli, ravensare and frankincense.

Niaouli (Melaleuca viridiflora) is an Australian tree that is related to tea tree. It has similar properties to tea tree, a much more pleasant scent, and is gentler to the skin and mucous membranes. Niaouli has been used in remedies for first aid, and to soothe skin disorders such as herpes, roundworm, sores and abscesses. It is helpful with viral, fungal and bacterial infections, including those that affect the ears and throat. As a natural antihistamine, niaouli can help relieve allergic reactions, especially those affecting the skin and ears.

Ravensare (Ravensara aromatica) is a tree that is related to the bay laurel and is native to Madagascar. It is a gentle yet powerful antiviral and antibacterial that can help support the immune system. Ravensare has been used in remedies to relieve flu, sore throat, bronchitis, fibromyalgia, mononucleosis, chronic fatigue and shingles. Some canine practitioners have used ravensare to help dogs with compromised immune systems or during the vaccination cycle.

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) has been an important commodity both socially and economically. It was used for thousands of years in incense, perfumes, and embalming agents, and more recently studied for its antitumoral activity. Frankincense is nontoxic and nonirritating to tissues, and because of its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal and astringent properties, it’s been used in preparations for wounds, acne and boils, and to relieve dry, chapped or maturing skin. Frankincense can help support the lungs and immune system to relieve colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma. It has also been shown to slow and deepen respiration, which allows feelings of calmness, comfort and serenity – simply inhaling the scent of frankincense can be soothing during unsettling times.

Using pure essential oils of niaouli, ravensare and frankincense, either singly or in combination can help your dog (and you!) find relief from itching, sneezing and other symptoms related to environmental irritants.  Earth Heart’s formulation of these three essential oils is called Guard Well (instructions and ingredients here), and is currently available as a water-based mist or diffusion blend.

As with any home remedy, it is important to know and follow the use and safety guidelines, and to recognize when it is time for professional help from your veterinarian. Here’s to a sneeze-free, itch-free year using (safely diluted) essential oils!