Yes. Vetiver oil is safe for dogs. Not only is vetiver oil safe for dogs, but it is superb for calming anxious animals. A great oil to use around 4th July and New Year’s Eve, if you have a dog who doesn’t like loud noises, for example.
It can be used topically, or in a diffuser, or even just to inhale, to calm your pet at any time. It is non-toxic, non-irritating and unlike a lot of essential oils, most animals even quite like the smell. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best ways to help your dog remain calm using vetiver oils.
Vetiver, the deep rich fragrance of peace. Roots drawn up from the depths of the Earth, bringing with them the most profound sense of peace. It’s a gift of silence in a busy world, perfect for meditation and for prayer. The same is true for humans and for animals.
Is Vetiver Oil Safe For Dogs During Pregnancy?
The truth is, we don’t know for certain, because there hasn’t really been any scientific research published around it. However, we should apply the same respect to animals as we do to humans. We would not advise topical use of essential oils on any dogs in their earliest days of their pregnancies. How long those early days would be is up for discussion. We say to avoid essential oils during the first 16 weeks in a human pregnancy which would be just under halfway through. Since dogs have a gestation period of around 65 days, we’d advise using it topically, at least during the first month of their pregnancy.
It is a safe oil for human breastfeeding, we expect the same would be true for dogs, and as essential oils go, it doesn’t taste too bad either. (It is used as a tea, sometimes in India, and is sometimes used to flavor ice cream.) However, essential oils do interact with breast milk and so the taste would filter through. If puppies start to go off eating, the first thing to do is stop using vetiver oil. It may simply be that they don’t like the taste.
Is Vetiver Safe for Dogs if You Diffuse it?
Yes. From a safety point of view, vetiver is safe for dogs including pregnant ones and those that suffer from epilepsy, but it is terrible for diffusers.
It makes beautiful blends for relaxation and quietness blends, but the droplets are so heavy, because it is so viscous, that over time it works your machine too hard. Diffusers that have lots of vetiver, myrrh, and benzoin die very young! So the first thing to say is the best way to change the atmosphere of your room is to evaporate the vetiver, not diffuse it.
You’ll have seen evaporators with places where you can put candles under your oil and water, I am sure. Simple to use, and as long as you put them away from inquisitive little hands and from curtains and flammable textiles, they are fantastic ways to “burn” essential oils. We call it burn, but the trick is to put lots of boiling water in, then just a drop of essential oil. As long as you keep your eye to make sure the water doesn’t all evaporate, you are good. Obviously, oil does not fully evaporate, so when it boils dry, it does smell like burning. Hence the name.
Incidentally, a great replacement is a loaf tin, on the top of your wood stove. Loads of water, and as long as the stove is warm, the evaporation safely continues keeping your dog calmer for hours.
Another great benefit to evaporating vetiver is you don’t have to turn it off. Diffusing essential oils is quite aggressive. The molecules are flung all around the room and after a while, both humans and pets have had enough. Standard safety advice for humans is to turn your diffuser off, after two hours and to have a half-hour break. The same would apply for animals of course. Evaporation is calmer, so as long as there is water left in, then you can continue to create a vetiver womb.
That said, we are still talking about human levels of oil here, and given the sheer power of a dog's sense of smell, we could probably go down to much smaller dilutions still, and your dog may thank you for it.
Getting Down to The Dogs Level
You might find it interesting to read a book by a lady called Caroline Ingraham, called Help Your Dog Heal Itself. Ingraham practices something called zoopharmacognosy. This is the idea that animals self prescribe based on smells they find. They know themselves, what they need to get better. Presumably, you have seen your dog seek out some grass if they have a bad belly? It does that through its sense of smell.
It’s thought that a dog’s sense of smell is about a hundred times stronger, more complex, and varied than ours is, so this is how we like to imagine it.
If we imagine that a teaspoon holds about 100 drops of oil, that's about the equivalent to how we smell a drop. So, if we put in five drops of oil, try to imagine how fierce that will be.
Actually, if you take a little time to sit with your dog, they will show you which oils they like and which ones they find unpleasant. They’ll even show you when they’ve had enough.
Witnessing Dogs Enjoyment of Vetiver
So, set some time aside to do this, because, I promise you, it will be the most magical thing you’ll have done all day. It’s like a doorway into another creature’s realm.
Sit down quietly next to your pet, and take the bottle off the top of your oil, and watch the dogs eyes and nose. As he experiences it, you’ll notice he closes his eyes, and you’ll likely see his nose twitching as the molecules reach him. It’s likely that you can barely even smell the oil, but you’ll see that’s enough for the dog to interact with.
You may even notice him starting to lick his lips as he likes it, and can also taste the fragrance in his mouth.
However, watch for the moment when he turns his head away or gets off the sofa. He’s had enough now, and he wants to get away from it. If he doesn’t like the smell, he’ll do that quickly; for smells he likes, he’ll stay a little longer.
Using Vetiver Topically on Dogs
Hopefully, now you’ll see the need for very low dilutions. Dogs like to curl up in a ball, especially when they are cold or feel threatened, but the best place to put the oil is on their belly. So, it’s important not to overpower him. 1% is going to be the very highest dilution. We’d suggest maybe going even smaller than that. You can always add more to a blend, don’t forget. It’s very hard to take drops of oil out!
Other oils you might like to add, to make him even calmer are lavender, chamomile, rose, geranium, valerian, and/or yarrow. All are tremendously pacifying, and very gentle indeed. In all cases remember, interact with your dog and see if he likes it. You can do that with each oil in turn, and even three oils together, just bottles with the tops off, before you even add the carrier. For you, it’s an experiment, but the dog is already getting calmer.
Where’s the Best Place to Apply Essential Oils on A Dog?
Then of course we have the issue of applying oil to a hairy beast! All the oils we’ve spoken of, would be safe if the dog licks them. Almost unrelentingly, you can expect that they will. It’s fine. You’ll have diluted them enough into a carrier for them to be safe. (That’s not always the same for cats, but dogs are fairly robust when it comes to essential oils) Ingestion won’t do them any harm.
Apply to the place where there is the least hair. That’s usually on their bellies, and what dog doesn’t enjoy a belly rub? Chances are they’ll stretch out and show you the insides of their legs. Great. Apply the oil to the insides of the thigh, where there is a lovely hefty artery that will allow you to get the oils speedily in.
Any oil left on your hands, rub it onto the insides of their ears, then a lot of stroking with any residue, on their heads.
Safe DIY Vetiver Recipes for Dogs
Calming Belly Rub
- 1tbs Grapeseed Carrier Oil (Vitis Vinifera)
- 1 drop Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 2 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil (Anthemis nobilis)
- 1 drop Vetiver Essential Oil (Vetiveria zizanoides)
Safety: Do not use it in a dog’s early pregnancy.
The MailMan is Coming. Be Nice! Pan Top Blend
- 2 drops Vetiver Essential Oil (Vetiveria zizanoides)
- 1 drop Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus limonum)
- 1 drop Cedarwood Virginian Essential Oil (Juniperus virginiana)
Method of Use: Fill a saucepan with water, drop the oils in and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer on the hob for twenty minutes or so. The house will be full of the blend and have a lovely calming vibe.
Safety: Not designed for topical use. Watch the pot does not boil dry.
Is vetiver oil safe for dogs? Yes, use it gently, safely, and thoughtfully to bring about a lovely sense of calm.