As we head into the holidays, we often see our animals as stressed as the people. I’d love to share tips and treatments for calming all life!
Excerpted from my book Energy Healing for Animals (Sounds True):
What are they? Essential oils are the volatile oils extracted from plants. They contain the essence of the plant: therefore, essential oils. Essential oils are at least as old as the Bible, and anointing with oil is a practice that’s been used in ceremony for millennia. Embalming methods in ancient Egypt and China also used oil. Today a common way to use essential oils is through aromatherapy, and we use it to alleviate disorders, shift moods, and heal various conditions. Aromatherapy oils can be used topically or inhaled. The important thing to know is that each individual oil has a different purpose. Essential oils are a subtle technology useful for dealing with complex things, yet they are so simple and pure that their effects can be immediate.
An essential oil, consisting of the plant’s energy and frequency, is contained in teeny molecules that vaporize easily and can quickly enter the nose and bloodstream. They are thought to affect every cell of the body within twenty minutes and are then metabolized like other nutrients. Because these volatile molecules are so light and move so quickly, they can cross the blood-brain barrier as well as move into tissues and influence cells. You can reach the entire body at once with this treatment method.
The oil itself carries a very high frequency, while mental, physical, and emotional challenges vibrate at lower frequencies. On an energetic and therapeutic level, these potent little molecules can raise an animal’s frequency almost immediately.
Essential oils go straight into the limbic system, the brain’s overseer of emotion, behavior, long-term memory, and the olfactory system. This is why we can have an emotional response to someone’s perfume, and why the aromas of certain things can trigger memories for us, with feelings attached, good or bad.
Essential oils are thought to bring on the immune defense properties of plants by regenerating and oxygenating the system. They are also thought to feed cells and help them retain nutrients. They have proven to be wonderful antioxidants, working as free radicals and preventing mutations. Certain essential oils are known to be anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic, and anti-infectious. They help with detoxification and overall emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. And as if all that were not enough, aside from their healing properties, essential oils are useful in soaps, cleaning products, incense, and perfumes.
If you’re wondering how essential oils can be so powerful, consider pheromones, the “essential oil” chemicals that various animals secrete to elicit a specific response. The chemical involved can have a social, sexual, or emotional function, among others. The social function is about territory. With cats, even those that have been spayed or neutered and can no longer actually spray, they still produce a territorial scent to create a boundary.
Pheromones can also be produced or replicated commercially. A case in point is commercially available cougar pee, used to ward coyotes off farms. And for a more urban or suburban household, we can use scents to ward off the neighbor’s tomcat or even to help ease the effects of bringing a new animal into the home.
Case in point: I once worked with a very protective German shepherd named Jake who had been walking around his suburban Chicago property peeing in lines for a week. When his worried owner brought Jake to the vet, a few simple questions ruled out any serious health concern. Then the owner discovered that there were two coyotes in the area. Jake had been warning them with his pee not to set foot on his property—or else!
Who does this help? The answer is anything or anyone who has nostrils and breathes through them! Essential oils can help with anything from being able to breathe more deeply to relaxing to expediting healing after surgery. They also help when it comes to grounding, easing anxiety, elevating depression, and much, much more.
One of the most important things our wonderful autonomic nervous system takes care of for us is breathing. It also takes care of our heartbeat and the blinking of our eyes. But when we humans are faced with something that generates anxiety, such as an equestrian performance— a big jump or a dressage test —our fear can inhibit our breathing. And then, in turn, our limited breath can minimize our horse’s ability to breathe deeply and stay relaxed. So while I’m enthusiastic about using essential oils for healing your animals, it’s beneficial to your animals when you use them too!
Let’s say your dog was attacked years ago, and now every time you walk your dog on a leash, you look around suspiciously in full defense mode in case anyone else is out walking their dog. Or let’s say your dog attacked another dog and now has leash aggression— aggressive behavior that only shows up when it’s on a leash. For us, these scenarios share a common denominator: we, the humans, forget to breathe. The dog senses this and may hold its breath too. Now we’re both anticipating an upcoming disaster.
In other words, we have suspended our own ordinary functioning—normal breathing—because our emotion around an event is bigger than the event itself. For horses and their riders caught up in this kind of anxiety, something as simple as applying some peppermint or eucalyptus on both the horse’s and the rider’s chests works wonders. It helps both breathe more deeply and relax into the ride. Another good choice is frankincense, as it’s good for the lungs and is known to calm and slow breathing.
Cats and certain dog breeds with very short nose canals such as pugs, Boston terriers, and many bulldogs can’t use essential oils in the same manner as the rest of the world because there’s not enough distance between the nasal canal and brain—the delivery is faster than the speed of light. Giving oils to these animals requires being more selective in how you administer the oils. For instance, you might put the oil on a washcloth near their bed or their food bowl.
A special note about birds: Birds have a very hard time with essential oils, so using them is not at all advised. In fact, many birds have a tough time if their cage is in the kitchen, surrounded with cooking smells and particles, because their respiratory systems are so fragile.
Who is qualified to do or to prescribe this? There are many online schools and certification programs for aromatherapy and essential oils. There doesn’t seem to be a licensing procedure, but there is a National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. Most people who do this professionally combine it with another practice like massage therapy, animal communication, or a veterinary practice.
The benefit of working with someone who has studied essential oils is that they’re as familiar with the properties of the oils as a chef is with the properties of foods. They also know how to combine oils and which oils work better when combined with others.
Can I try this at home? Yes, and when you’re working with animals, there is a very simple way to select the oils: the animals themselves get to pick the frequency they need! If an animal doesn’t like something, you’ll know it right away—it will turn its head away or even walk away. See Video
But if it likes it enough to want to eat the oil right out of your hand, you know you’re on to something—it’s that simple. You won’t find an animal on the fence about smells, especially if they bring up negative memories and emotions. Playing like this with essential oils is truly one of the greatest ways to help our animals experience their own innate healing ability.
Please note: If you are pregnant, be careful. Educate yourself about handling essential oils because they are very powerful, and be sure to dilute the oils with a carrier oil (coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc).