Essential Oils & Animal Behavior

1st understand stress

The reason I decided to train in Animal Aromatherapy, many moons ago, was because of the dramatic results I saw from offering essential oils to a horse I was working with. This horse was scared of everything, and lived in state of agitation all the time. I offered him chamomile to smell and witnessed him move from terrified to trusting in the course of one session. I was hooked.

I have always had a special interest in animal behavior and helping animals adapt happily to domestication. Essential oils make my work a whole lot easier. But still it is important that we understand the root cause of behaviors that are problematic for the animal, and the humans that care for them. That root is stress.

In any domestic situation there is a certain level of stress because animals are living in a way that suits humans, not their own species specific, physiological and psychological needs. Horses were not designed to live in stables, isolated from herd members with restricted access to food. Dogs were not designed to be left alone, with no pack members for hours on end. Nor are they well adapted to the chaotic nature of human relationships. This can lead to behaviors that are not in anyone’s best interest, such as aggression.

We can help our animals adapt to common domestic stressors by better understanding what stresses an animal, what stress looks like, and how we can reduce stress. There are many simple adjustments we can make to how we care for our four-legged family members that will help them enjoy life better.

Helping people understand stress and how to relieve it is a founding principle of the Animal PsychAromatica animal wellness system, because stress is also the root cause of most illness. When we alleviate stress we automatically increase health,

The role of essential oils in reducing stress

Alongside adjustments in lifestyle and diet, offering essential oils for self-selection is one of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce stress. In studies on humans, lack of choice, such as in a prison environment, is cited as one of the major causes of stress. It’s the same for our animals. Out of our love and care for them we restrict their choices. Commonly, they can’t choose when or what to eat, when to exercise or who to associate with.

When we offer them essential oils or herbs to self-select we return this element of choice. I love the look on an animal’s face when he is first offered an essential oil, “Really? You mean it? I can choose?” And an immediate trust is built with me. Along with that, essential oils interact directly with the body, lowering heart rate, or relaxing the nervous system. This creates a healing that is immediate and profound.

Today I want to share with you a typical story of how this system can transform lives, submitted as a final study by Claudine Farquhar, CAHP, RRPr, a graduate of Animal PsychAromatica Level 1. As well as the essential oils, changes were suggested for Casper’s lifestyle and diet.

A Case Study

Casper is a 2 year old husky mix with fearful aggression and barking at strangers, confidence issues, hormonal issues, security issues. He was adopted from a rescue centre in Canada, where he was born from a semi-feral mother.

Casper is in a new home with a wonderful new owner but is stressed and fearfully aggressive to anything new, especially people. With many different types of animals, including other dogs and cats, it has been difficult to adapt to all the things a new home brings. He was removed from his mother very young, and taken away from his brothers and sisters. He retains a feral wariness, probably passed down from his parents.

Lifestyle adjustments that can be made to reduce stress – respect his space and sensitivity, let him get used to his new surroundings and find his place naturally, provide comfort and security with guidance and training to make him feel confident and secure, limit interaction with strangers until training is provided, making sure strangers do not approach him and make eye contact first
Nutrition suggestions include – raw food diet, or if not possible, then a high quality gluten-free kibble, meaty bones, lots of fresh water, and use essential oils, hydrosols and natural health treatments for ailments and behavioral issues, consulting with the family holistic vet

Oil short list for Cooper:
Base carrier oil:
Grapeseed (Metal) – excellent carrier oil for essential oils when treating behavioral or emotional issues
Sunflower – (Metal – all elements) – neutral, supportive oil for emotional issues

Essential Oils:
Jasmine – Fire (water) – helps with male hormone issues, is calming and comforting, slightly analgesic, helps with nervous anxiety, confidence and insecurity issues, and helps to release tension
Yarrow – Wood (metal, water) – helps with past abuse issues, fearful anger, assists with emotional and physical trauma
Valerian – Water – helps with chronic fear, fear of known things, hysteria, insecurity, is sedative and hypotensive
Neroli – Fire – helps with nervous hysteria, separation anxiety, nervousness, sedative, calming, uplifting, separation from mother, is a neurotonic

From the shortlist of oils offered Casper selected – Jasminum sambac (Jasmine), Citrus aurantium var amara (Neroli), Valeriana officinalis (valerian)
Base oil – Grapeseed oil
Dilution – 3 drops essential oil in 10ml carrier oil – 1% dilution (emotional problem)

Casper was offered the oils twice a day for 14 days. He showed keen interest in all three oils, licking and inhaling for 4 days. On day 5 he started to lose interest in valerian and jasmine. By the afternoon of day 8 he was only interested in inhaling the oils, Day 13 he lost interest all together

Observations of changes in behavior/ health:
Casper is much calmer, more relaxed, less aggressive, and doesn’t bark as much when he hears noises, or when there are visitors to the house. He barks a few times, and still keeps his distance until comfortable, but does not do the approach/retreat with aggressive barking as he once did.
He approaches me with enthusiasm, happy with tail wagging furiously when I visit now, curious to see what I have brought him.
At the beginning of administering the oils, Casper would most often go and lie down on his cushion with his head on his fore-paws, to process the oils, often staying there for a few hours, trance-like with his eyes half shut.
After the first week, he settled into a more relaxed routine, less agitated and much calmer during the day. He still was barking and being very hesitant with strangers, but not nearly for the amount of time he usually was. In the past, he wouldn’t let up the entire time a stranger was visiting.
He is also much more comfortable with the other dogs and cats in the house and on the farm, not barking aggressively and chasing after everyone and everything (especially the goats and cattle), and listening to his owner when she calls him.
Since completing his essential oil treatments, the owner has placed Casper in a dog training program, and he is doing very well among other new dogs, new people and a new environment.

Student’s learning result: This case study has clearly demonstrated to me how impactful the oils have acted upon Casper’s behavior. His immediate and keen interest in the oils showed me how much he needed the assistance of Mother Nature’s natural substances to overcome his fears and insecurities.
The oils demonstrated effectively that they could calm his central nervous system down so he could relax and cope with the situations that faced him, especially in dealing with strangers.
I feel Casper has come a very long way in just a few weeks and his owner is thrilled that she doesn’t have to worry that Casper will be constantly on edge and ready to bark or attack every visitor that comes to the house.
I will continue my wonderful relationship with Casper, and will enjoy watching him as he develops into an affectionate, loyal, self-confident dog.

If you would like to learn how to use essential oils for animal well-being check out our courses

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