I hope you have been enjoying working with you herbs and powders with your animals. This week I will introduce the concept of working with essential oils with animals. The beauty of this is that all the essential oils that you have in your home kit can also be used with your animals, and Caroline has already given some great tips on which oils are appropriate for which conditions. Here are a few tips to ensure that they are used safely and to maximum effect. As before, this blog is not intended to fully train you in the use of animals self-selecting essential oils, merely to give you an introduction to this wonderful method of supporting your animals, and you will love it to!
The key to working with essential oils with animals is to always give them a choice as to whether they inhale or ingest the oils, the animal must always be allowed to walk away or choose how closely they come to the oil. Animals have millions more nerve receptors in their nasal passage than humans, and therefore the concentration of these volatile molecules reaching the brain is significantly greater. This means that the healing effects can be excellent, but also that they should be used with caution. Here are a few tips:
- Essential oils should ideally be offered on a daily basis for most complaints, however for acute or severe issues 1 to 3 times daily is ideal.
- Before offering the oils, make sure that your animal is in a peaceful environment in which they feel comfortable. Hold the open bottle with the lid off firmly in your hand, covering as much of the bottle as possible – animals have been known to try to bite the glass bottle (mainly horses) when they are desperate for a remedy. Be careful not to mix the lids up from different oils!
- All the oils (unless otherwise stated) will be safe to offer for inhalation, or to be taken orally, but always ensure that therapeutic grade pure oils are used. If your animal indicates that they would like to lick the oil (e.g. by mouthing the bottle), dab a small amount onto your hand and allow them to lick it off. You can repeat this process until your animal shows no further interest in ingestion. Your animal may wish to medicate by inhalation alone – this is a very potent method of receiving these essential molecules, especially if working with behaviour, as their chemical messages go directly to the brain. Do not try to influence the animals’ chosen method of application, and always allow your animal to walk away when needed. NEVER add essential oils to feed, the animal must always be able to choose their method of application and how much they take or inhale.
- Relax and enjoy this process, it may take a while but it will be worth it! Your animal may need some time to process the oil’s aroma so if they move away from the oil initially this shouldn’t be taken as a sign they are not interested. Allow them to process the oil and wait for them to come back closer again or offer the oil once more but at a further distance as they may find this more comfortable. Take your time to decide if your animal needs the oil or not, if in doubt always re-offer.
- As essential oils are much more potent to animals than humans (due to the extra olfactory receptors), so start by holding the oils several metres away from them and slowly move your hand closer until your animal turns or moves away. The most important thing is to always allow your animal to choose which oils they want to work with and for how long.
- The key to getting the best results is to learn how to read your animals responses correctly. Positive signs are different for each animal, here are some examples: Flaring nostrils, licking and chewing, deep breathing, heavy eyes, relaxation, twitching. Sometimes animals release in ways that could seem to be as negative, such as fleming or showing negative expressions. These responses are also really positive and show that the animal is really working with the oil so keep going! Working with the remedies is an extremely bonding process for animal and carer, the more you work with the remedies the better the results you will get.
- Essential oils must never be applied topically to an animal unless otherwise directed by a trained zoopharmacognosy practitioner, in which case they will most likely have given you a specific topical application (in these instances the application should still be offered for inhalation before it is applied to the skin). For any topical application always allow your animal to move away and do not force a topically application on an animal. NEVER apply essential oils topically to cats.
- A good tip to save time / allow your animal to continue to work with the oils when you are not there as long as they can move away when they have had enough is to:
- Horses: dab a bit of oil on the stable walls or on an old lead rope, leaving about 1m between the oils. This will allow the horse to work with the aroma for a longer period; and / or:
Add 5 – 15 drops of their favourite oil to a bucket of water (always ensure plain water is also available in a separate bucket) – this will allow them to work with the aroma / drink as they wish, and also works well for horses living out. Peppermint is a favourite for adding to water in a stable or field.
- Cats, Dogs & small animals: put a few drops of their favourite oil on a rag and leave near their bed. Use separate rags for each oil and always space about 1m apart. They can then move away from this when they have finished working with the remedy
Do let me know how you get on and if you want any tips on where to buy excellent quality oils either contact myself or Caroline. I am always happy to answer and questions, and I have some great video’s coming soon which will explain this more fully!