The safest and most effective way to use essential oils with animals is to use applied zoopharmacognosy. Or in simpler terms, to allow your animals to self-select the aromatics they need, and guide you in how to use them.

One of the things I love best about this system is how it can help animals get over traumatic experiences and learn to trust humans again. None of us can learn when we are stressed, animals included. Essential oils reduce stress, allowing the para-sympathetic nervous system to take control and the brain to switch back into learning mode. This allows animals to let go of behaviours that arise from past trauma and get on with life.

When a human offers a traumatised animal essential oils, we become associated with the good feeling they give. Plus, allowing self-selection says: “I see you, I hear you, I respect your right to choose and control your own well-being”. Why wouldn’t you trust that person? The following short case study illustrates this.

If you would like to learn how to use essential oils in this way, and help others benefit check out the courses available here. Or if you would like to learn from me personally in Portugal, contact me.

 Flora the fearful fox-hound

Flora was a foxhound bitch, who found herself in the care of the RSPCA. No-one knew why, but she was terrified of people, leaving her pen or socialising. When people came to her kennel she would cower in the corner, so her chances of adoption were slim.

I was asked to help her with essential oils. The oils chosen were frankincense (Boswellia carterii) to counteract fearfulness, angelica root (Angelica archangelica) for reconnecting with herself and feeling protected, rose  (Rosa damascena), for self acceptance and to heal resentful anger arising from past abuse.

As I approached the bars of her kennel she ran to the back and hid. I crouched down outside the bars, opened the frankincense and waited patiently; I could feel she was drawn to the oil. Without looking at her, I stretched my arm towards her with the bottle in my hand. Very slowly she inched towards me until she was about 2 metres away, then she lay down and breathed deeply.

After some minutes she stood up, stretched and moved to the back of her kennel. I repeated the process with the other two oils. With each oil she approached more confidently: the angelica she sniffed quickly;   she inhaled the rose deeply, then disappeared inside her hideaway.

I left hydrosols with the staff to dilute in water and leave in her kennel, so she could self-medicate.

A week later I received a note from the centre manager, who had been away on holiday when Flora started her treatment, telling me how surprised and delighted she had been to find Flora in reception greeting visitors on her return.

Case study excerpted from Essential Oils for Animals, by Nayana Morag