6 Ways To Use Lavender In The Car To Calm Your Dog
Not all dogs love a doggie road trip, and many dogs become quite distressed, anxious or over excited when travelling in the car. Lavender has a lovely calming scent and can be used very effectively to soothe an anxious dog.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has a long history of usage in aiding relaxation, sleep, anxiety, restlessness, depression and headache in humans. A number of interesting canine studies have also shown great benefits when used on our furry pals.
A 2006 study conducted in Ireland and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association evaluated the effectiveness of lavender odour as a treatment for travel induced excitement in dogs. Their findings were that dogs exposed to the scent of lavender spent significantly more time resting and sitting and less time moving and vocalising than those with no exposure to the scent.
The American Journal of Veterinary Research published another study in 2009 that investigated the effect of topical application of undiluted lavender oil on autonomic nerve activity in dogs. The researchers found that when dogs were treated with lavender oil (3.6 drops were applied to the inner pinnae of each ear), their mean heart rate was significantly lower.
Ok, so we have established that lavender is super relaxing, but…
How do we use it in the car to help our dogs????
Here are 6 simple ways to use this brilliant plant to make time spent in the car less stressful and more enjoyable for both you and your pooch…
#1 Dog collar
Apply 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil directly to your dog’s collar, or on a bandana placed around their neck.
#2 Lavender spray
Purchase or make a lavender spray and give the car upholstery a quick spritz to infuse it with a lavender scent.
#3 Car aromatherapy diffuser
You can now purchase some fantastic little aromatherapy diffusers that connect to the usb port in your car (or anywhere else that has a usb port). You just fill the cartridge with oil and it will intermittently disperse a puff of soothing lavender all around the car. Voila! I purchased mine from a health food store for $39.95.
There are a number of lavender scented car fresheners on the market, however I don’t recommend these, as the fragrance is most likely synthetic and not pure essential oil.
#4 Lavender infused piece of fabric in the car
Pop a couple of drops of lavender essential oil onto a piece of fabric or handkerchief and hang this somewhere in the car. If your dog travels in a crate, you can hang the fabric on the crate door.
#5 Apply directly to the dog
The abovementioned study used undiluted oil, HOWEVER, I would recommend diluting the oil at a 1:4 ratio. Add 1-drop lavender to 4 drops carrier oil such as olive oil before applying.
Place a few drops of the diluted oil onto your hands and then massage into the tips of your dog’s ears, abdomen, neck and back. Be careful not to apply too close to their nose or eyes, as they may find this bothersome. It is also recommended to conduct a patch test to check for sensitivity and discontinue use if any irritation occurs.
#6 Dried lavender sachet
Place a sachet of dried flowers in the car and allow the scent to diffuse throughout.
CAUTION – “OILS AIN’T OILS”
Essential oils vary greatly in quality and cost. The general rule of thumb is – you get what you pay for, so please, please, please don’t use cheap fragrance oils as a substitute. These cheap, synthetic oils are made from petrochemicals and a bunch of other nasties you most definitely don’t want around you or your pet. I only recommend the use of 100% pure (preferably organic) essential oils.
I source most of mine from these Australian suppliers:
I would love to hear how you go with these tips, so pretty please leave me your love letters in the comments section below.
All this talk of lavender has made me sleepy. Sweet dreams dudes and dudettes.
Komiya, M., Sugiyama, A., Tanabe, K., Uchini, T., Takeuchi, T. (2009). Evaluation of the effect of topical application of lavender oil on autonomic nerve activity in dogs. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 70(6), 764-769.
Wells, D.L. (2006). Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229(6), 964-967.