Our pets are an integral part of our family. I am reminded of this every time someone brings their fur baby in for an adjustment. Pet owners will do anything to ensure their little companions have the best quality of life possible. Unfortunately, people think there are only a couple of options when it comes to helping pets with joint and spine issues – surgery or medication.
It usually shocks pet owners when they find out that chiropractors for animals exist. A look of disbelief follows when they learn it is beneficial for animals afflicted with back pain, hip issues, arthritis, disc disease and numerous other ailments. As an animal chiropractor, my purpose is to identify misaligned joints in the spine, hips and extremities – then gently correct them back to a state or normalcy. As a complement to chiropractic care, essential oils are a great way to help your pet hold an adjustment while also managing inflammation in the body in a natural, side effect-less, way.
What conditions do animal chiropractors see that essential oils might benefit?
The conditions I typically see are back pain, neck pain, extremity pain, arthritis, ear infections, constipation, and paralysis. Many of these issues begin as a consequence of a slight joint misalignment. These misalignments may be the result of playing, falling off a couch, or from constant pulling on their collar during a walk! When these joints are in an abnormal position, the body responds with an inflammatory reaction. Progressively, this can lead to the pain, arthritis, and even paralysis of the limbs over time.
Therefore, it is important to maintain the joints of the spine, knees, ankles, etc. within a normal range (much like we want keep our body temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). However, we also need something to help alleviate the pain, inflammation, and other aspects of a deteriorating joint during the healing process! This is where essential oils come in handy.
The Animal Desk Reference: Essential Oils for Animals recommends certain oils based on the presenting condition. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Arthritis – balsam fir, copaiba, frankincense, helichrysum, lavender, lemongrass, palo santo, peppermint, pine, spruce, vetiver, wintergreen.
- Inflammation – rosemary, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus.
- Disc disease – helichrysum, juniper, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, peppermint, wintergreen, palo santo.
Lavender is a go to essential oil for these conditions because it contains fantastic anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, if I could only use one essential oil for the rest of my life it would be lavender. It can be used for purification purposes, healing purposes, and even has calming agents. When I get a cut, rather than dig out the Neosporin I look for my lavender essential oil, and I do the same with my pets. There have been numerous instances when my pet has come home from daycare with a little cut or wound and a drop of lavender often does the trick. In addition, lavender is an awesome anti-inflammatory and can be helpful with arthritic animals. In conjunction with gentle adjustments, these oils are a powerful weapon against many of the conditions I see.
How should essential oils be used with pets?
Essential oils can be used in a variety of different manners when it comes to our pets. For help with calming, healing, and anxiety, diffusing the oil is likely your best bet. Rather than hitting your pet with one concentrated dosage, a diffuser allows the surrounding air to be purified and filled with essential oil particles – promoting overall wellness.
Essential oils can also be used topically or internally, though I would recommend consulting your holistic veterinarian before having any pet ingest an oil. Though they are natural, they do contain potent properties that might not always mix well with your specific pet. For instance, my dog does not do well with essential oils applied directly to him. He gets aggravated, itchy, and red at the spot of application. When I dilute the oil using either coconut or almond oil, he tolerates it much better and his skin doesn’t react. Oil usage will depend on the weight of your pet as well, a 100 pound dog will not require the same amount as a 5 pound pet. The golden rule is to always consult a professional before trying to self-medicate. Guidance from someone who understands oils thoroughly will go a long way toward your pets’ health. Not to mention, there are some oils that are toxic to cats but okay for dogs.
To sum everything up, essential oils are a great way to help our pets naturally. They benefit a number of conditions from inflammation to arthritis. However, you want to be sure the way you apply essential oils matches the needs of your individual fur baby. I would highly recommend consulting an expert on the topic and finding out what works best for your pets!
Dr. Christina Cole
Advanced Animal Chiropractic