Complementary Remedies for Dogs – An Introduction

29 May Complementary Remedies for Dogs – An Introduction







Complementary Remedies for Dogs – Article: 5

Complementary Remedies for your Dog

 Overview of the article:

Interested in trying aromatherapy, herbs or flower essences on your dog but not sure where to get started?  This article provides a grounding in the subject backed up by real case studies. If you want more there are Natural Animal Centre weekend courses which will further your knowledge to treat your dog or horse.  Click on the link for the prospectus’s for Herbal Remedies for dogs, Bach Flower Remedies for dogs and Aromatherapy Animal Owner weekend courses. Animal Owner Courses


Over the last few years there has been an overwhelming public increase in awareness of complementary therapies. Just fifteen to twenty years ago, complementary therapies were relegated to dusty shelves at the back of health shops to be sought by only the most die-hard of followers. Today, a bewildering array of therapies of all kinds are routinely sold in high street pharmacies, even supermarkets. But in many respects, the market has never been more confusing. We will hopefully dispel some this confusion here and if you want more come on one of our weekend courses for Complimentary Therapies for Animals and their Owners

Confusing choices

Most pharmacists are unable to advise you on the use of the remedies even though their shops display pills and potions claiming to be cures for conditions as diverse as arthritis, depression, asthma, even insomnia.  When these bottles are lined up next to bubble baths, sweet-smelling soaps and deodorants all claiming to contain herbs and essential oils as well, it is not surprising that some people are not only confused but also skeptical.

Nowadays it is not unusual to find people who say that holistic remedies have indeed helped them but there is also an increasing desire amongst animal owners to find out whether animals will respond to these remedies just as well.  More and more veterinary surgeons report clients are requesting a referral to a complementary therapist in preference to continuing with conventional drugs, particularly where their animals have chronic conditions that have not alleviated over a long period of time.

Which Complementary Therapies are commonly available?

Bach Flower Remedies

These are a collection of 38 plant and flower-based remedies discovered in the 1930’s by Dr Edward Bach, a physician. Rescue Remedy, perhaps the most well-known of these, is a combination of five Bach Remedies and is particularly useful in times of immediate distress. The Remedies contained in Rescue Remedy are for shock, terror, panic and agitation and are amongst the first choices of any complementary therapy if your animal has any form of trauma, both emotional and physical.

The Remedies are extremely safe and because they work on emotional conditions such as timidity, anxiety and fear, they are also appropriate for use in behavioural problems in animals. For more detail you might consider a weekend course, just click on the link: Animal Owner Courses


Herbal Medicine

Over 5000 years ago, ancient Sumerians used herbs such as thyme and caraway and in Egypt old papyrus records dating back to around 1700 BC show use of herbs such as juniper and garlic. The Chinese wrote the oldest surviving herbal medical book in 2700 BC and described the uses of over 500 herbs.

Today, many conventional synthetic drugs owe their origins to herbs with perhaps the most famous of these being aspirin which was artificially produced by a pharmaceutical company following the identification of the anti-inflammatory chemical, acetylsalicylate, in Meadowsweet herb.

Because herbs work inside the body in the same way that drugs do (ie they have a pharmacological action), in many respects they are close to conventional veterinary medicine although herbalists rely on many of the chemicals present in the herb, whereas drugs are typically a “magic bullet” with just a single chemical present. For more detail you might consider a weekend course, just click on the link: Animal Owner Courses



Aromatic essences are produced in specialized cells of leaves, flowers and other parts of a plant and are transformed into essential oils after extraction by distillation. Aromatherapy is thus the practice of using essential oils and from the most ancient of times, people have recognized that some of them are the best pain relievers and anti- bacterials known to man. Certainly, many would rival any anti-biotic or pain reliever available from a chemist today. Animal Owner Courses

The chemical makeup of many hundreds of essential oils have been identified and although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they work on a number of conditions in animals – both behavioural and physical – this is yet to be proven scientifically. Like herbs, they also cause a pharmacological change in the body.

 Safety first!

 Because herbal medicine and essential oils have a proven pharmacological action in animals, never administer either of these therapies if your animal is already on drugs. Cats and other small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters are particularly at risk. When in doubt, consult your veterinary surgeon and always tell your vet if you have administered herbs or oils purchased over the counter.

Case No 1

Your dog has had an accident – he has been run over, kicked by a horse or has even run into an electric fence on the farm. He appears to be in shock and is lying quietly on the ground. What can you do?

  •  depending on the seriousness of the trauma you may be able to lift him into your car and get him to the vet. Alternatively, call your vet and let him know that you are concerned to move him and request a home visit.
  • Administer two drops of Rescue Remedy to the dog every fifteen minutes until the vet arrives or you reach the surgery (because the Bach Flower Remedies are so safe, regardless of the injury, you will do no harm and will not prejudice anything that the vet decides to prescribe). Rescue Remedy comes in a liquid form in a dropper bottle – do not put the glass dropper into your dog’s mouth as this could be dangerous if he bit through the glass.  A dog in shock will not take the Remedy on food, the usual means of administration but applying the drops to his paws works just as well.  Rescue Remedy works quickly and will help revive the dog from shock as well as relieve pain and anxiety associated with the accident.
  • Tell your vet you have given the dog Rescue Remedy.
  • Once your dog is home, consider administering a treatment of Bach Flower Remedies for the following three weeks. Make up a treatment bottle as follows: To a 30 ml dropper bottle add 2 drops each of:

Mimulus – this is the remedy for fear of known things

Gentian – this is the remedy that alleviates anxiety over set-backs in life, again appropriate in these circumstances; and is particularly appropriate after an accident

Fill the bottle to the neck with still spring water.  Administer 4 drops from the bottle 4 times per day on food or in a little water.  Remember to note the date on the bottle when you made up the remedies and discard the contents after 21 days as they will have gone stale.

Case No 2

You and your dog have enjoyed a pleasant walk. When you return home you find that your dog has a minor scrape on her paw probably as a result of scampering around through the woods and jumping fallen logs. What can you do?

  • Using anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory essential oils, wash the dog’s paw.  Add 2 drops of Roman Chamomile and 2 drops of Lavender to 500 ml of warm water and wash the scrape thoroughly making sure that there is no remaining evidence of dirt or bark and towel dry.
  • To 30 ml of water-based gel (available from your pharmacist), add 1 ml of Roman Chamomile and 1ml of Lavender.  Always add a carrier oil as they dilute the essential oils EG 5ml of almond oil which is a typical carrier oil.
  • Massage a teaspoon (5ml) of gel into the affected area twice per day. 

Do not be tempted to use an essential oil such as Tea Tree unless you have considerable experience in the use of essential oils. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) although widely available as an anti-bacterial from health shops and pet stores, is a highly astringent oil that promotes contraction of the cells of the skin. If there is any dirt or foreign object still present on the skin, Tea Tree may cause the foreign body to be internalized and in such cases, infection is likely.

Know the law!

Whilst many people interchange the term Alternative Therapy with Complementary Therapy, the latter is more accurately used as the therapies administered alongside conventional veterinary medicine. And herein lies a significant distinction between the two: alternative therapists operate independently as an alternative to conventional medicine and in the case of humans, would usually not work in parallel with a GP.

In the UK, when it comes to animals, under the law, only a veterinary surgeon or the animal’s owner may treat an animal and for professional animal complementary therapists to practice, they require a referral from the animal’s vet.  Please check on the laws which apply in your country before proceeding.

We recommend that you never accept remedies from a therapist who has not obtained a referral from your vet – without a full clinical history, the wrong remedies could be selected and your animal may be at risk.

And if you want more knowledge we run weekend courses on the above remedies or full Registered Practitioner Qualifications on the Bach Flower Remedies in conjunction with the Bach Centre … click on:

Animal Owner Courses

Bach Flower Animal Practitioner Qualification