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Article: Using Aromatherapy to Calm Your Frazzled Fido - by Kristen Leigh Bell, Certified Aromatherapist

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The use of natureıs most concentrated botanical substances- essential oils,
is an excellent way to calm dogs who are fearful, agitated and hyperactive.
The very nature of these substances is such that they work quickly and do
not leave the animal in a drugged or listless state, as common tranquilizers
such as Valium do. Unlike herbal calming tablets, which take time to digest,
aromatherapy essential oils are inhaled and quickly begin their work.

Over the last ten years, I have not found one dog who was not fascinated
with the scent of truly natural essential oils. While dogs may shy from
synthetic scents and perfumes, they are drawn to essential oils. Perhaps
they know that they are of botanical origin, or perhaps they are just so
used to the cloying scent of synthetic products that their attraction is one
of innate curiosity. Either way, essential oils appear to have a strong
affinity with dogs, and they do their work on several levels.

There is much confusion in the United States as to what aromatherapy is and
how it can help to calm animals. Aromatherapy for pets does not involve
lighting candles or incense on the floor around your pet. It does not
involve potpourri, raspberry or pear scented bubble bath, or new age
mantras. What is does involve is the use of pure, unadulterated essential
oils, which are specifically diluted for use with dogs. That dilution is
usually on par with what you would use for a human baby of one year of age-
or, 25% of the dose you would give to an adult. Of course, there are certain
essential oils which we would avoid using on children, and we avoid using
those on dogs as well. But for the purpose of calming, those potentially
risky, high-ketone or irritating essential oils would never be employed.

When I refer to the fact that essential oils work for dogs on several
levels, I am referring to the physical, the spiritual and the emotional.
Physically, essential oils are concentrated substances which contain very
distinct organic chemical constituents. This is what determines their range
of activity on canine or human physiology- or, whether or not an oil is
calming or stimulating, irritating or anti-inflammatory, anti-viral or

For the purpose of calming, we look for essential oils which contain high
levels of esters, linalol alcohols and other organic chemicals. Some of
these oils include lavender, marjoram, green mandarin, petitgrain, neroli,
rose, valerian, spikenarde, vanilla, sweet orange, vetiver and ylang ylang.
These constituents of these essential oils have sedative effects on the
nervous system. Essential oils contain these types of chemicals in differing
amounts, and this is also what makes one oil smell different from another
while still offering a similar effect. When you topically apply an essential
oil blend to the neck and chest of a dog you wish to calm, you are providing
a means for the essential oils to evaporate from the fur and be inhaled.
Once inhaled, the large nasal cavity of the canine gives plenty of area for
the aromatic essential oil molecules to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Not only in the nasal cavity, but also the sinuses, throat and lungs. It is
in this way that essential oils act so quickly, exhibiting varying degrees
of calming effect.

The second way that essential oils work on animals is what I refer to as
"spiritually". A more apt term would probably be vibrationally, however, I
have found over the years that many shy away from that term, seeing that it
implies something unknown, unseen and unproven. If you are familiar with
Bach Rescue Remedy, or use any flower essences, then you are using
vibrational remedies. These forms of energy healing affect the emotional
states of the body, mind and aura. If you tend to disprove this sort of
thing, thatıs perfectly fine. But hundreds of holistic veterinarians using
flower essences on animals canıt all be wrong. Essential oils, like flower
essences, also carry their own vibrational energy and kirlian photography of
certain essential oils and individuals having just used essential oils shows
vibrant changes in the bodyıs energy field (aura), as well as vibrant
colors. Essential oils have a very powerful life force, as they truly are
the embodiment of the very soul of the plant from which they were taken. In
this way, essential oils of varying frequencies can aid in calming a
frightful or hyperactive dog.

The third method in the aromatic calming trio is that of an emotional
aspect. The application of essential oils to an animal involves human touch-
something which all animals constantly crave and need for their domestic
survival. I always suggest that essential oil blends be applied in the most
positive manner- most often, via a tender and loving massage which will
bring pet and owner closer together. This aspect is particularly important
when we consider the Pavlovian behaviors which dogs exhibit in response to
certain stimuli. Pavlov trained his dog to salivate at the sound of a bell
by offering food every time the bell was rung. You too, can train your dog
to react calmly and serenely to the application of essential oils by
rewarding your dog with a massage during application, and initially applying
the essential oils at a calm and positive moment. The scent of the essential
oils will thus trigger the rewarding experience, and much like Pavlovıs dog
salivating at the sound of the bell, a calm state of mind will be produced
at the scent of the essential oils associated with the positive experience.
While animals may be fully capable of producing pure emotional responses to
essential oils as humans do, there is no scientific research to support
this, so we must rely on the simple fact that dogs relate experience to
experience via trained behavioral patterns. It is in this way that essential
oils can work to produce to most positive behavioral modification.

Essential oils can safely and effectively be used in a variety of
situations, and they have no known interactions with other holistic remedies
or allopathic drugs or tranquilizers. Many dog owners find that often, a
combination of holistic remedies is necessary to achieve an optimum effect.
For instance, a pet owner who is at work all day but with a dog who is
fearful of storms might consider using flower essences on a daily basis. On
a day when storms are forecast, the owner might give an aromatherapy massage
to the dog 5-10 minutes before leaving, in conjunction with an herbal pet
calming tablet. The effect of the aromatherapy will last anywhere from 30-60
minutes. While the herbal tablet is being digested itıs calming effect will
then begin later as needed. This same pet owner might even consider having
an aromatherapy diffuser with a timer in the same room as the dog, set to go
off at hourly intervals, diffusing the calming essential oils into the air.

When creating calming blends for dogs, I never suggest the use of a single
oil. Essential oils work most effectively when they are combined with one
another. This concept is referred to as synergy, and simply relates to the
fact that the differing chemical compositions of essential oils is such that
where one leaves off, another picks up and does the job. I usually suggest
blends of 3-5 essential oils at a time. All blends should be made using what
you know to be pure, unadulterated, therapeutic grade essential oils- be
they ones you purchased on your own, or in a blend made by an aromatherapist
who has experience in working with animals. I have found that many pet
owners prefer to leave the use of essential oil blending in the hands of
professionals such as myself, but if you possess a basic knowledge of
aromatherapy, and have respect for these powerful substances, you too can
create a calming blend for use with your dog. If not, safely pre-blended oil
blends and sprays do exist, made specifically for dogs.

Simple Canine Calming Blend
1 oz. vegetable base oil (olive, sweet almond, sunflower, sesame,etc)
3 drops Lavender essential oil
3 drops Marjoram essential oil
3 drops Green Mandarin essential oil
3 drops Neroli essential oil
3 drops Valerian or Spikenarde essential oil

Shake well and store in a dark glass bottle, such as cobalt blue or amber.

For dosing, the size of the dog is the determining factor. I recommend 2-6
drops, depending on whether the dog is small, medium, large or extra large.
A toy or tea cup breed might need only one drop, while a Great Dane would
receive 6, or possibly 8. Always start off with the smallest amount and work
your way up. Always initially introduce essential oils in the most positive
manner. Never apply the oils near the eyes, or directly on the nose. Always
be sure that they are properly diluted.

Kristen Leigh Bell is a Certified Master Aromatherapist and member of the
National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. She is the founder and
president of Aromaleigh Inc, a company specializing in holistic aromatherapy
products for pets. Her articles have appeared in various pet publications
nationwide. She is presently writing a book on holistic aromatherapy for
pets. She can be reached via http://www.aromaleigh.com

Additional Resources:

For pre-blended canine aromatherapy products: http://www.aromaleigh.com

For essential oil bottles and mixing supplies: http://www.lavenderlane.com

For pure, excellent quality essential oils: http://www.sabia.com

For further information, aromatherapy articles, resources, products and
education, please visit http://www.aromaleigh.com


Kristen Leigh Bell, Founder and President, Aromaleigh Inc.
Certified Aromatherapist, Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy
Member National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and Handmade
Toiletries Network

Holistic Aromatherapy for Pampered Pets and their Paw-ticular Owners
100% natural, hand-crafted remedies, grooming and personal care products.
Never synthetic!


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