Book Review – Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals

Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals

By Kristen Leigh Bell

Findhorn Press 2002

 

When researching books on aromatherapy for animals and essential oil use it is hard to find reliable information. Many books do not have valid detailed information. They do not address safety and usually are specific to one animal.

 

As with most good aromatherapy books there is a brief history of modern aromatherapy. The author also shares her story of what drew her towards essential oils, and how it progressed to an interest of use with animals.

 

Section 2 provides a breakdown of essential oils (what they are), absolutes, hydrosols, and the other botanical ingredients that are commonly used. She does a good job of explaining the different forms of extraction as well as ways products are adulterated.

 

Section 3 is a breakdown of the aromatics that are explored. She only explores about 50 essential oils, but these are the ones that are generally considered safe for use with animals. There are details on a few hydrosols, which have gained popularity since publication.

 

Sections 4 through 7 explores the uses of aromatherapy with animals. Four and five are the largest exploring dogs and cats respectively. Six and seven provide a brief glimpse for use with small animals and large animals.

 

The remainder of the book is a variety of resources for both further education as well as the resources for the information provided throughout the book. Due to the age of this book not all the resources are valid any more.

 

Overall this book does provide a lot of good information. It is short at 200 pages so easy to read or use as a reference. The author put a lot of thought and research into all the information. Based on what I have learned and the publication date some of the information is outdated. Also, as a side note this author discontinued working with animals shortly after the publication of this book in 2002.

 

If you are interested in more information please feel free to contact me.

 

 

A profile of oregano essential oil

There are over 30 different species of oregano. In the herbal world oregano and marjoram are interchangeable. When it comes to essential oils less than 10 varieties of oregano are utilized with Origanum vulgare being the most commonly found variety for sale. The oil is created by steam distilling the leaves and flower upper portion of the plant. It has a strong camphoraceous, spicy, herbaceous fragrance.

Many trained aromatherapist will turn to this oil to assist with respiratory discomforts. Properly diluted the oil can improve circulation and reduce pain.   The essential oil is high in phenols, specifically carvacrol. Some of the therapeutic benefits of phenols include antibacterial, antifungal, antitoxic and disinfectant. In The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing author Margaret Ann Lembo breaks down some of the positive emotional and mental uses of this oil. She mentions it helping with mental imbalances and possibly alleviating some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “With its strong medicinal aroma, oregano helps shake out feelings of weakness and hopelessness.” (pg. 161)

Oregano is considered a hot oil and lends its therapeutic benefits to the respiratory and digestive system. It is beneficial for loosening mucus in respiratory concerns, but if not used properly can also damage mucus membranes. The essential oil does have a variety of safety precautions including avoidance during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The recommended topical use is 1.1% (Tisserand and Young pg. 375-376) due to the possibility of skin irritation. Ensuring that oregano is properly diluted in a good carrier oil and combined with skin nourishing oils will help with successful use.

Much of my work at a farm animal rescue has been with smaller animals; rabbits and chickens. Since oregano is a strong oil that can cause mucus membrane damage I don’t feel that it would be safe with these small sensitive animals. As I mentioned in my article about use with chickens a cleaning spray could be created to clean out an area after illness. I prefer to use the whole plant as a combination of greens for a treat. This provides the animals with similar therapeutic benefits and without the safety concerns.

Don Quixote – a donkey case study

Don Quixote - the donkey

When I first started visiting Celestial Farms (a non-profit rescue farm) back in 2014, I fell in love with this dwarf donkey, Don Quixote. As far as the farm knows he was surrender by his owners. Unfortunately his hooves were severely overgrown showing that he was not well taken care of. He also shied away from attention and didn’t enjoy being touched.

 

overgrown hooves

One of the major challenges facing the farm was finding a farrier that was willing to work on trimming his hooves. He has become more friendly, but still does not like his legs touched at all. You are almost guaranteed to be dodging a kick if you try. After many tries a few farriers have finally started to trimming his hooves, but imagine how it feels when you cut a toe nail too short. After each trim Don Q was experiencing a pain similar to this. To help with this we added MSM (nutritional supplement) to his diet.

 

I created a blend to massage on his hooves that included the carrier oils; jojoba, tamanu oil and St. John’s wort. I also included the essential oils helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium), Roman chamomile (Chamaelum nobile) and ginger (Zingiber officinale). The carrier oils were used to help with moisturizing the hoof and help protect it from any infections. The essential oils were utilized for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

 

Don Quixote leg shape

Don will always have issues, but we continue to work with a farrier to try and properly shape his hooves. The above blend is generally used for a week after a trimming to help reduce soreness. The other long term effect has been damage to the leg and shoulder area because of his stride being wrong. He will always walk with a limp, but he is much more friendly and always loves it when guests bring treats.

 

To learn more about animal aromatherapy book a workshop or consultation.

Lola – a horse case study

Lola

Case Study – Lola

I began my journey into animal aromatherapy because the one question that I was always asked during workshops was; can I use essential oils with my pet?

Through the journey of achieving my certification as an animal aromatherapist I was required to complete several case studies. I was already volunteering at Celestial Farms, so I asked the owner if I could work with the animals to complete my case studies. She was thrilled and so my work began. I didn’t expect to fall so in love with the wide variety of farm animals, but am so grateful that I have a wider understanding of all animals.

The first animal to present with a problem I could work with was Lola a female quarter horse. Now, I will admit that I have been horseback riding and have always had a love of horses, but from a distance. It was a blessing that the barn manager was supportive of my desire to help the animals. We were able to teach and learn a lot from each other. During our first few sessions, I learned the detailed structure of the hoof and all the things that can go wrong.  Lola was suffering with recurring infection of thrush. As perfectly defined by www.equisearch.com* it is: “A noxious rotting odor emanating from the underside of a hoof…”. For any animals that live in a moist climate this is common struggle.

The barn manager had been using Kopertox (https://www.drugs.com/vet/kopertox.html) which is commonly used to treat thrush in horses. Unfortunately, the use of Kopertox created a whole new issue within Lola’s hoof as you can see in the picture, she developed a nasty sore. One of the ingredients in Kopertox is copper naphthenate, which is supposed to provide resistance to water, unfortunately it also burns skin.

horse hoof sore
Horse hoof sore

We immediately discontinued use of the Kopertox and cleaned out her hooves well. My instructor graciously shares a blend for a healing skin mist spray in her Facebook group Animal Aromatherapy (Safe Use) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1595932084001505/. This spray includes colloidal silver, witch hazel, and herbal tinctures of calendula (Calendula officinalis, and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). We began using this blend on Lola’s sore and within a few short days saw extreme improvement.

After about a month Lola developed thrush again. Since she was not experiencing the sores that we had seen previously I created a blend utilizing aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) and lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogon citratus) at a .5% dilution. Lemongrass has been shown to be a skin sensitizer (article on Lemongrass). After just 3 days of use her hooves were clear. We continued use for 5 days total to ensure the infection was clear.

To learn more about animal aromatherapy book a workshop or consultation.

Oregano Essential Oil – Highlight

There are over 30 different species of oregano. In the herbal world oregano and marjoram are interchangeable. When it comes to essential oils less than 10 varieties of oregano are utilized with Origanum vulgare being the most commonly found variety for sale. The oil is created by steam distilling the leaves and flower upper portion of the plant. It has a strong camphoraceous, spicy, herbaceous fragrance.

Many trained aromatherapist will turn to this oil to assist with respiratory discomforts. Properly diluted the oil can improve circulation and reduce pain.   The essential oil is high in phenols, specifically carvacrol. Some of the therapeutic benefits of phenols include antibacterial, antifungal, antitoxic and disinfectant. In The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing author Margaret Ann Lembo breaks down some of the positive emotional and mental uses of this oil. She mentions it helping with mental imbalances and possibly alleviating some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “With its strong medicinal aroma, oregano helps shake out feelings of weakness and hopelessness.” (pg. 161)

Oregano is considered a hot oil and lends its therapeutic benefits to the respiratory and digestive system. It is beneficial for loosening mucus in respiratory concerns, but if not used properly can also damage mucus membranes. The essential oil does have a variety of safety precautions including avoidance during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The recommended topical use is 1.1% (Tisserand and Young pg. 375-376) due to the possibility of skin irritation. Ensuring that oregano is properly diluted in a good carrier oil and combined with skin nourishing oils will help with successful use.

Much of my work at a farm animal rescue has been with smaller animals; rabbits and chickens. Since oregano is a strong oil that can cause mucus membrane damage I don’t feel that it would be safe with these small sensitive animals. As I mentioned in my article about use with chickens a cleaning spray could be created to clean out an area after illness. I prefer to use the whole plant as a combination of greens for a treat. This provides the animals with similar therapeutic benefits and without the safety concerns.