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Episode 287: Massage and Essential Oils for Your Pets

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Janis Fisher, a member of the doTERRA Veterinarian Advisory Board, to talk all about using massage and essential oils with your pets. She'll discuss why massage is helpful with pets, why pairing massage with essential oils can be powerful, and some of her favorite oils to use with pets like AromaTouch and Copaiba.

This episode is brought you by the doTERRA 2023 Impact Report find all the stories here.

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Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA, the podcast, where you'll hear exciting, useful and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field.

This episode is brought to you by the doTERRA 2023 Impact Report. Are you interested in learning how doTERRA is making an impact around the world? Head over to or click on the link in the episode description to find out more.

Today we're excited to talk to Dr. Janice Fisher, a member of the doTERRA Veterinarian Advisory Board, about how you can use massage and essential oils on your pet.

doTERRA: Dr. Fisher, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Dr. Janice Fisher: Oh, thank you for having me.

doTERRA: I feel like we do not get to talk about animals enough at doTERRA, but especially on this podcast. So, I'm very excited to talk to you. And I want to dive right in with a pretty basic question, which is: when it comes to massage for pets, what are some of the benefits that we can see?

Dr. Fisher: Oh, there's so many great benefits to massage with pets. One of the things that I love the most about people working on their own pets and massaging their own pets is it's really a great way for you to spend time with your pets and to increase that animal bond with them and increase their trust of you as well.

So, you guys, relaxing together and doing a little bit of petting and working into a massage is just such a nice bonding experience for you and your pet. But they're obviously also going to benefit a lot from the other physical aspects of massage.

We know that massage is very soothing and comforting, and so it can actually decrease the discomfort and relieve tension in any of the top muscles that your pet might have. It can help to improve their flexibility or their range of motion and their joints, by doing some massage in the surrounding muscles and loosening them up.

And so, all of these are great advantages, whether it's young working dogs that have been active or whether it's senior pets that are getting a little bit more stiff and sore. The massage, can really help to release that tension in their muscles and loosen up their fascia and make them more comfortable.

But one of the other things that I love about massage and pets is that so many of our pets really live their life in sort of a high alert situation. Whether that's because they're feeling anxious or they're fearful or just because they're a working dog, that's very focused, a lot of times they really are just always on that constant alert or feelings of being so high. And so the massage can actually be really nice to teach these dogs how to relax and how to settle down and just have some quiet time.

It's just not healthy for you to live your life always on high alert. And so I love that massage can help some of these dogs that are so exuberant to calm down, and to relax, and to just be a little bit.

doTERRA: Absolutely. I think that's incredible. And so then shifting a little bit, how does the pairing of essential oils with massage for pets—how is that helpful?

Dr. Fisher: I love using essential oils as part of the massage for many reasons. For example, I really like using Lavender because it promotes such a calming atmosphere for the massage, but also can be very soothing when it's diluted properly on our hands and then applied to the pet as part of the massage.

Or we could use an oil like Copaiba, which is really great. So again, we dilute that, apply it to our hands. And it's just going to add to the benefits that we see with massage.

I work with a lot of dogs that have either been injured or are sport and working dogs, or senior pets, and I really like to use doTERRA AromaTouch® with those dogs because it does still have the Lavender, which helps promote that calming atmosphere, but also has other oils that are really beneficial to the pet when it is massaged.

So, I love incorporating the essential oils into my massage routine, because I think it just heightens the benefits that we're getting from the massage.

doTERRA: I think that is completely right. Dr. Fisher, one of the big concerns I think people have when talking about using essential oils with their pets is wondering if there are any safety considerations that need to be taken into account. Are there some safety guidelines that are unique to different kinds of pets? What do you say to those people?

Dr. Fisher: Well, I don't ever want people to be fearful of using doTERRA essential oils with their pets just because I want their pets to enjoy all the benefits that we do.

But there are some things that we want to take into consideration. Their sense of smell is so much stronger than ours, so it's really important that when we expose them to the essential oils, we don't overwhelm them.

We feel that it's best to expose pets to essential oils aromatically first. So, use just one or two drops of the oil that you might want to use for your massage in a diffuser. Do this in a large room where the pet could leave the room if they wanted to, and just watch for any signs that they either really love that oil, which could be that they're going closer to the diffuser, or you can see them sort of relaxing from the calming atmosphere.

Or signs that they don't tolerate a specific oil or blend might be that as soon as you put the diffuser on with that oil or blend, they leave the room. So, this way you can get an idea of which oils they tolerate well.

Now, the ones that we use in massage, like Lavender and Copaiba and even doTERRA AromaTouch and dogs do tend to be well-tolerated, but always safe to try aromatic first.

And then when you are going to use the oils topically on pets, we want to make sure that they're always appropriately diluted. You can use the Touch line with pets. Both Copaiba and Lavender come in the Touch line. But when you're using doTERRA AromaTouch, you do still want to make sure that you dilute it.

So, I mainly use doTERRA AromaTouch with dogs and I typically like dilutions of 1 to 5% if I'm using that particular blend. And in cats I tend to stick to using just the Copaiba and the Lavender.

Another thing to consider, as far as safety-wise with pets, is that they are going to groom themselves and they groom themselves all the time by licking. So, we want to be conscious of the fact that anything that we apply topically to pets could also be ingested. Just another reason that we want to use such pure essential oils like doTERRA oils.

But it does mean that I do avoid the topical use of essential oils that are not safe for ingestion. For example, doTERRA Deep Blue® is one of my favorite products. I use that all the time anytime that I have any sort of muscle or joint discomfort. However, in pets, I wouldn't recommend using doTERRA Deep Blue just because it contains Wintergreen and Camphor, which aren't safe for ingestion. So, I wouldn't want to be massaging that over a pet and then having them immediately groom afterwards, and ingesting some of those oils that were never meant for internal use.

doTERRA: Those are fantastic tips, and I think very helpful for people who are wanting to get started.

For those people who are really excited about essential oils and using them with massage for their pets, but really haven't tried anything like it before, what other recommendations do you have for them as they get started?

Dr. Fisher: Well, one of the big things when you're trying to do massage with pets initially is to go slow and only do it for short periods at a time. You know, we often think of like relaxing with our pet and doing a little half hour massage, but when they're first getting used to massage, they don't necessarily understand how to relax into it. So, doing small, short sessions is always better.

The other thing to consider when starting a massage routine with pets is we want them to be in an atmosphere that is calming for them. So, obviously the use of essential oils is going to be beneficial with that. But also think about the environment that you're in. In humans, with massage, we'll often play music that has ocean waves or nature sounds. But if you're a dog, having a bird chirping in the background isn't going to help you relax, it's actually going to make you more alert.

So, you want to think about those sort of things and also think about your own mood. So many times we're rushed in life right now. And if you're thinking, oh, I've only got a few minutes to get this massage done and you start rushing with your pets, they're going to feel that, as well. So, use the essential oils to help you calm down a little bit before you start the massage, so that it really is that bonding experience that we want it to be with everyone taking just a little bit of time, a few deep breaths, start the massage.

And if they're only comfortable with it for a couple of minutes, that's okay. Let them get up. You're going to try again in the future and eventually they're going to find that this is something that they absolutely love to do with you.

doTERRA: I love that advice. Absolutely.

Dr. Fisher, before we end, is there anything else that you want people to know about massage for pets and essential oils with massage for pets?

Dr. Fisher: Mostly just don't be scared to go ahead and try this. I really do find that a lot of times people try it the first time and the dog's not super receptive to it because they don't understand what's happening, or the cat isn't quite sure what they're doing, and so people often give up and be like, "Oh, they don't like it."

And you do just have to realize that they don't quite understand what the benefits are going to be for them right away. We have to give them time to understand that this is something that they enjoy. So, don't give up. Keep trying, and eventually it's going to be a lovely experience for you both.

doTERRA: Amazing. Dr. Fisher, thank you so much for being here with us today, teaching us about how we can create that bond with our pets and have them experience the benefits of not only essential oils, but also massage.

Dr. Fisher: Thanks so much.

doTERRA: Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you want to try any of the products you learned about, click on the link in the episode description or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today.

And remember, if you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen.

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