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Healing dogs with oils

Amy DeLong offers a scent to Hogan, a young, high-strung dog. DeLong was looking for an oil to help settle him down.

A lot of time people hear about the healing powers of essential oils and aromatherapy, but beneficial for dogs?

"The oils have the same quality and effects for dogs and for people," said Amy Delong, of Moving Spirit. "If I'm saying this is great for coughs and colds and flu, it's great if you have kennel cough."

DeLong hosted a District 833 Community Education class called "Aromatherapy for Dogs" on Oct. 18 at East Ridge High School.

During the class DeLong discussed the benefits of using essential oils to cure a number of ailments in dogs and how to safely use the oils.

"We got hands on and started passing bottles," she said.

Oil properties

DeLong, who lives in Vadnais Heights, has been using healing oils on herself for over 15 years.

Delong started using the oils on dogs after working in animal rescue and seeing a number of physical and mental issues such as anxiety and trouble adjusting.

"I started with them personally as a holistic complimentary thing," she said. "I'm always looking for ways to help the rescue animals so it was sort of this natural progression."

DeLong eventually started Moving Spirit, which is a holistic healing service for dogs.

DeLong, a certified practioner of healing touch for animals, uses aromatherapy, massage and nutritional consulting to help animals.

Some of the oils DeLong uses with dogs include: lavender, eucalyptus, sweet marjoram, copaiba, balsam fir, pettigrain, mandarin, tea tree, cedarwood, peppermint, ginger, black pepper, Roman chamomile, bergamot and lemongrass.

"Since they're plant based they are all contributing something different," DeLong said.

The oils can be used in a number of ways, DeLong said, including: wound- and skin-care, ear infections, arthritis and muscular injuries, anxiety, digestive disorders, immune support and respiratory illness, bug and tick repellants, inflammation, car sickness, cancer and allergies.

DeLong said she will often blend multiple oils together in order to address the specific ailment facing the dog.

Using the oils correctly

Even though the oils are natural and non-toxic, DeLong said people need to know how to most safely use the oils.

First, DeLong recommends diluting the oils, with another type of oil such as olive oil or with alcohol, since the oils are much more potent for dogs than for people.

"The difference is that dogs will respond more because their scent is so much stronger - less is more," she said.

DeLong advises people to use oils sparingly with cats because cats lack a specific enzyme to break down the oils.

Also, certain oils may react differently with different ailments.

For example, she advised against using rosemary with animals that have epilepsy because it can trigger seizures.

DeLong said the oils can be applied to dogs in a number of ways.

One way is to simple rub the oil into the dog's coat.

Another way would be to apply the oil directly to the inside of the dog's ears or at the base of their paws.

Oils can also be distributed by diffusing the oil into the air.

When using the oils, DeLong said she often lets the dogs choose which oil they want by letting them smell the scent.

Dogs will indicate their pleasure, or pain, by leaving the room or licking the bottle and everything in between.

"The dogs will instinctually know what they like and what is going to be helpful," she said. "Dogs are very instinctual so they are operating on an intuitive instinctual nature all the time and there's an energizing quality to the oils that just sinks right in with that.

"It's natural to them because its nature and they're very tied with nature."

DeLong said more and more people are opting for healing oils and alternative remedies for their pets rather than relying on traditional veterinary medicine.

"A lot of my clients are at the place where veterinary care cannot help them," she said. "As opposed to a medication which can take six weeks or 12 weeks to see the effect of it -- this stuff works immediately."

Woodbury resident Georgianna Lund said she decided to take DeLong's class at East Ridge because she has two cats and a dog that are grieving after one of her dogs had to be euthanized.

"I've seen what aromatherapy and alternatives can do for people," she said. "My animals right now are all grieving and struggling with anxiety, so something like this allows me to support them because I don't understand what they're saying.

"It supports their life, it supports their bodies and it calms them, or assists them, in healing."

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Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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