Although essential oils are only used as target odors in scent detection, I think it’s good to stay up on the research surrounding the safety and efficacy of essential oils generally since we are exposing our dogs to the odors and because we should know and understand the properties of any odor on which we decide to train.
Two recent studies indicate that an essential oil preparation (neem oil, rosemary extract, lavender oil, clove oil, tea tree oil, oregano extract, peppermint extract and cedar bark ex- tract) delivered with polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E will lesson atopic dermatitis, although other veterinary interventions were still required in most cases. Still, the essential oil preparations allowed treatment providers to reduce the dog’s exposure to stronger treatments with a greater likelihood of adverse side effects. M. Blaskovic, et al. (2013) The effect of a spot-on formulation containing polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential oils on dogs with atopic dermatitis. The Veterinary Journal, (citing Tretter and Mueller, 2011).
Patricia McConnell wrote a blog post recently about a study conducted in Gloucesteshire that found essential oils helpful in increasing sleep and reducing vocalizations, particularly ginger and coconut.
And the Bad:
Purchase tins, boxes, kits, as well as the oils used in scent work, such as Clove, Lemon Grass, Myrrh, and Vetiver here.
Here is an article that talks quite sensibly about using essential oils around your dog. As a person who is sensitive to a lot of perfumes I love her discussion on moderating the quantities used, dilution, and letting your pet “choose” or “approve” scents before incorporating them into regular use.