Natural health remedies for dogs are perhaps one of the most fascinating yet frequently misunderstood topics of canine health. Much has been written about alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and supplements, with some veterinarians remaining skeptical about canine supplementation including herbal remedies and flower essences. However, as the demand for alternative medicine for humans grows, many owners are looking outside of the traditional approaches of veterinary care and exploring alternative treatments for their pets.
Consider, for instance, these staggering figures:
- Experts expect pet supplements to top $1.6 billion in sales by 2017.
- Five percent of dogs, or slightly less than four million, were given a homeopathic remedy in 2011-2012, according to an American Pet Products Association (APPA) study.
Benefits of Bach Flower Essences for Dogs
One of the more popular natural remedies available without a prescription is the Bach Flower Essences. In the 1930s, British physician Edward Bach isolated 38 flower essences with apparent healing effects, which he believed would remedy the negative states of mind. The seven primary mental states identified by Bach are:
- Insufficient interest in present circumstances
- Oversensitivity to influences and ideas
- Despondency or despair
- Over-care for the welfare of other
Flower essences are "subtle liquid extracts, generally taken in oral form, which are used to address profound issues of emotional well-being, soul development, and mind-body health." It is easy to confuse flower essences with other herbal remedies, but there are significant differences. Flower essences and herbal remedies both share nature's purest ingredients, and they work with, rather than suppress, the healing process. Herbal products are made from many parts of a plant including root, stem, leaves, fruit, seed, and blossom, and with a variety of methods like infusion, decoction, and tincture.
Flower essences begin with an infusion in pure water for three hours in direct sunlight, and only with the freshest blossoms of the plant. Flowers that bloom when the sun is weaker are boiled in pure water for 30 minutes. These remedies are then diluted and become the mother tincture. Further dilutions produce stock dilutions and eventually Bach remedies.
Popular Flower Essence Remedies for Dogs
While flower essences are used to treat a variety of canine-related issues, some of the more common ailments include stress, behavioral or emotional issues, allergies, aggression, trauma, bruising, insect bites, and toxic exposure or ingestion.
Here are a few examples of the most common flowers essences, as well as a few you may not recognize:
- Agrimony (a plant of the rose family) is used to restore inner peace.
- Cherry Plum helps to remedy uncontrolled behavior or compulsiveness and helps restore control.
- Heather restores inner tranquility and emotional self-sufficiency and may be helpful for abandoned dogs or dogs who have issues with being alone.
- Holly restores inner tranquility and emotional self-sufficiency. May be helpful for dogs who resent a new pet in the household.
- Honeysuckle helps to remedy homesickness and/or an inability to cope with present conditions by allowing a dog to be fully in the present and adjust to present circumstances. Issues often associated with abandoned animals or animals whose owners have died.
- Impatiens, ironically, helps to restore patience and acceptance. (Characteristics that might need to be restored in dog owners, as well!)
Lavender helps to restore calm and soothes a dog on a deeper, spiritual level.
- Mustard remedies depression and gloominess and restores courage.
- Olive essence relieves extreme physical symptoms of exhaustion and weariness-an issue for many abandoned dogs.
- Sweet Chestnut remedies extreme mental and physical distress and restores endurance. Another issue often associated with abandoned dogs or dogs whose owners have died.
- Walnut essence may be recommended for the treatment of animals who do not get along, experience car sickness, fear, grieving, lack of confidence, or have issues with kenneling.
- White Chestnut remedies restlessness, preoccupation, and extreme mental agitation, and restores the ability to rest.
A Combination of Five with Bach's Rescue Remedy for Dogs
Bach's Rescue Remedy, perhaps the most widely recognized over-the-counter remedy, combines five flower essences-Star of Bethlehem, clematis, rock rose, impatiens, and cherry plum. Hence its catchy yet less popular name, Five-Flower Formula. Frequently recommended in any situation where a dog feels anxiety, stress, or fear, such as going to a new home, to the veterinarian's or groomer's, or during thunderstorms or fireworks. This gentle combination of essences takes the edge off the emotion, without dizziness, ataxia, or sleepiness. (Rescue Remedy also comes in a gel/ointment that can be applied to external wounds or burns to help healing and relieve pain.)
These are a small sampling of the huge variety of flower essences that are available and may provide some "natural" relief to your dog's emotional state. They should be available over-the-counter at most health and vitamin stores or markets that offer a good selection of holistic, natural, or organic-type supplements.
As always, be sure to consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements including flower essences.