Positive Association is essential when using Aromatherapy with Your Pets

An article our Founder wrote that will appear in the May/June issue of Dogs Naturally magazine:

Aromatherapy, a wonderful alternative and compliment to traditional medicine, uses essential oils of plants to enhance and stimulate psychological and physical well-being in pets and people. By inhaling these essential oil aromas, there is a hard-wired effect linked to our limbic system, which is the part of our brain responsible for mood, emotion, and memories. Thus, it is essential when introducing aromatherapy to our pets, that a positive environment is created so they will have the best possible memory associated with that aroma.

As humans, we can communicate verbally and explain to each other why we’d use a particular essential oil and the beneficial outcome expected. With pets, we need to create a positive association through our introduction to the aroma and our actions. We are responsible for their positive associations and when introducing anything new, we need to make their experience as pleasurable as possible.

Take for instance using aromatherapy to help alleviate the fear of thunderstorms. With a person, we can say “I would like you to use this aromatherapy every time you feel stress from the thunderstorm. As you breathe in the aroma, you will feel the calming effects of the oil”. Because you were told this information, your brain forms a positive association or memory to the essential oil; thus, allowing the calming effects to take hold. Due to our inability to communicate in the same manner with our animals, if you were to introduce essential oils during a thunderstorm to an animal, the association would be made referencing the scary thunderstorm, which would significantly reduce any receptiveness to the aroma.

As mentioned earlier, aromatherapy should be introduced in a positive environment. Take the oil, go to a quiet, happy place you and your animal enjoy and slowly introduce the oil while playing, having fun, and relaxing. Over time, they will associate this aroma with a positive experience; then, if you know there is a thunderstorm on its way, or something your animal perceives as a negative, you can use the oil as a means to help them relax in a given situation.

Aromatherapy with animals is not an overnight cure, but is a tool that when introduced over time can assist in a number of psychological and physical issues. As their sense of smell is much greater than humans, it is essential to go slow, use a little, and watch their reactions closely while introducing the aromas. A little bit of essential oils and a whole lot of positive memories can go a long way when using aromatherapy with animals.

By: Wendy England

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Daisy & Wendy making positive memories any chance they can get.

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