Aromatherapy with animals is a misunderstood practice. It's not a black or white, do everything or do nothing issue. Essential oils can be used safely with dogs when used appropriately.

Nayana Morag's book The Aromatic Dog is subtitled "Essential oils, hydrosols & herbal oils for everyday dog care: A Practical Guide." And that's exactly what this book is, a practical guide!

More than half of the book is dedicated to essential oil, hydrosol, and carrier oil profiles. Nayana provides a description of each of the plants in their natural habitat, their historical use, and the canine health and behavioral conditions that generally respond well to them. Nayana also provides her personal experience using the aromatic.

The book includes several at-a-glance reference charts, making it easy for the dog owner to create a short list of aromatherapeutic options for their dog for specific conditions or situations.

However, the most important section of The Aromatic Dog is the book's first third. It's definitely not a section to skip over, as it discusses how to introduce your dog to aromatherapy. It clarifies that your dog should be selecting the aromatics, not you!

Nayana was a student of renowned animal aromatherapist Caroline Ingraham, the foremost expert in the field of animal self-medication. This concept, known as "zoopharmacognosy," describes how an animal specifically chooses plants that benefit them therapeutically. One of Nayana's examples of this behavior is a dog eating grass. Do this with your dog, by the way. Observe how very selective they are of the type of grass they eat, sometimes even only from a particular area of the yard!

In The Aromatic Dog, Nayana provides practical advice for us humans to observe the signs and behaviors of self-selection in our own canine companions. Once we get to know our dogs' responses, we can appropriately provide aromatic options and allow them to make their own selection(s).

Here's a personal example of putting Nayana's guidelines into use:

In the summer of 2020, we had a cross-country road trip planned. Our previous dog had been a seasoned cross-country traveler. The longest car trip our puppy had been on, however, was just 2 hours and we had several 6-hour travel days ahead of us. Fortunately, when we travel, I always pack several essential oils and several small bottles of hydrosol.

About 4 hours into the first day, our puppy was becoming restless and whiny, even after a good leg-stretch the hour before. I cracked the lids of several bottles of essential oil, one after the other, watching my pup's response to each. She really showed interest in my bottle of Frankincense (Boswellia carteri), wagging her tail happily. So, I also tried the hydrosol with her by misting a bit on my palm and holding it out to her. She licked my hand heartily, then turned away. Several minutes later, I turned around to check on her, and she was stretched out on the backseat with her head on my daughter's leg! She turned out to be a really great road-tripping dog—we just had to observe her specific behaviors of self-selection.

Chances are most dog owners will at least attempt to use essential oils with their dog. Understanding when and how to use aromatherapy and reading the dog's responses to those aromatics is what makes for a successful experience for both dog and owner. The Aromatic Dog should be a well-thumbed book on every dog-owner's shelf!