Figure of a person lifting heavy weights above their shoulders.

All animals experience musculoskeletal issues!

Musculoskeletal issues are awful. You just can’t get away from them. If your knee is sore, every time you move, you may experience pain. For animals, it is normal behavior to hide their pain. There are, however, many things we may see in the veterinary clinic that tip us off to bodily discomfort.

The word analyze with a magnifying glass

Each species of animal is a little bit different.  Okay, maybe a lot bit different!  But that is what makes Veterinary Medicine so intriguing to me.  It is like a mystery novel, to figure out what each individual animal is feeling, thinking, or experiencing – and to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle to find solutions is just a rewarding endeavor.

I do like to analyze things. Why is that cat not using the litter box? Why is the dog reluctant to go down the stairs all of a sudden? Would a horse with arthritis eat better from a taller trough, or from the ground? Did that parrot not like a wing examination “just because” or maybe the wing joints are painful with arthritis? It is true, my mind is usually “chugging away” on all sorts of questions! It is no wonder I am tired at the end of the day!

Essential Oils are AWESOME!

I do say it quite often – I LOVE ESSENTIAL OILS. And one of the main reasons why, is because at the end of the day, we truly may not have any of the answers to these sorts of questions. We are left to wonder “WHY” all the time in the animal kingdom – often frustrated by lack of a definitive diagnosis. Essential oils are beautiful in the fact that they are broad spectrum. So – if a dog is limping, but we cannot yet figure out exactly why – essential oils (and especially blends of them) are able to address multiple layers of possible causes. Is it just a basic sprain and inflammation? Well, almost all essential oils carry some sort of anti-inflammatory property. Is it a torn ligament? A bone chip? Nerve Pain? Bruised muscle? Maybe even a tick borne disease causing “poly-arthritis” and pain in multiple joints due to an immune response. No matter what the cause, inflammatory process, or end diagnosis – essential oils layer multiple benefits and actions together.

For an example – say a dog has Lyme Disease. This can cause inflammation and pain in multiple joints. In traditional veterinary practice, we would need to prescribe an antibiotic to address the bacterial portion of the disease. Then, we would need to prescribe additional medications to address the inflammation and pain associated with the disease as well. It would not be uncommon for an animal to go home with two to three medications to address all of symptoms at hand. Then, there might be side effects. The antibiotic may cause nausea, and poor eating. But, you MUST give the antibiotic to get rid of the Lyme Disease, right? So, then maybe some vets will prescribe an anti-nausea medication as well – or the all-to-popular “anti-nausea shot” is given. Now, not only do all of these medications start to add up to potential drug interactions and additional side effects, but – some of them may start to stress the liver or other body systems. And they most certainly do NOT aid in bolstering the immune system.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when we treated the inflammation in the joints, we might also build the immune system, reduce nausea, protect the stomach, and hey…why not add a bit of emotional support and stress relief in while we’re at it??? That’s why I think essential oils are SO COOL! They do that! I can make a sore joint feel better with say Peppermint or Copaiba – but also contribute to anti-nausea benefits, stomach protection, and liver damage reduction (which by the way is documented in research on Put essential oils into a blend – and we have even more power and ability to address those “hidden issues” that we may not know even exist.

Support for EVERY animal!

Let’s start at the smallest end of the spectrum – and work our way up in size of animal.  I’ll quickly discuss some of the symptoms we may see with musculoskeletal discomfort – and which essential oils blends would generally be recommended for each species.  Then, you’ll want to read more on the product pages for each animalEO blend – for further instructions on how to use our products.

Pet rat eating a treat

Small critters like rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, and more can show many different symptoms of musculoskeletal discomfort.  Not drinking from their water bottle (hurts to lift their neck), not eating (hard to move around or climb up to a dish), biting because when we handle them they are sore…  These are especially the little creatures for which it can be hard to get an actual diagnosis.  They are just quite small to work up.  CritterBoost is an excellent blend for these animals.  It contains essential oils that will greatly benefit the musculoskeletal system – while also supporting proper immune function, and more. Although CritterBoost was created for very small animals – it can be used for cats, dogs, and other animals.  It is one of our most diluted all purpose blends – and can be used for everyone.  With small and exotic critters who can tolerate topical applications – CritterBoost is your best start. 

Cockatiel bird sitting on a hand

Birds are sometimes a bit different.  Although we can massage a tiny bit of CritterBoost into their feet – they usually enjoy a water-misting bath – so we can often use this to our advantage when using essential oils with birds.  My first selection for a bird who I suspect has a bit of arthritis or any sort of musculoskeletal concern – will be Feathered Plus NEAT.  The “Plus” version of this blend incorporates additional essential oils that are beneficial for many things, but will especially help with musculoskeletal concerns.  When made into a water-mist, the oils within Feathered Plus NEAT can be used even once or twice a day – creating a “happy application” for a bird, in a way they enjoy it the most.  

Any-Itis LITE can also be used orally (generally within foods) for birds – either alone, or in a combination of use with Feathered Plus water misting.  By using one or both of these items, we have found clinically that we can eliminate the need for prescription NSAIDs such as Metacam.  Birds are quite unique with symptoms they display due to musculoskeletal discomfort.  As an avian vet, I have seen everything from chronic screaming, wing flapping, night frights, and self-mutilation seem to be related to a variety of concerns.  Thankfully, even when I may not know directly what is causing the problem at hand – I have multiple layers of help being addressed when I use essential oils.  Feathered Plus NEAT in a water-misting spray will not only reduce inflammation but can aid in calming emotional stress!  That is a definite plus for avian households!

small grey kitten inside of a t-shirt pocket

Cats.  Yep, they are definitely unique.  And controversial.  You will want to read more on our website if you have any questions regarding cats and oils – on the Cat Page HERE.  For cats – we may see things like excessive grooming, biting or aggression when being pet, twitchy backs, poor use of the litter box, and more with musculoskeletal concerns.  Sometimes we may not even notice the symptoms of a sore senior kitty – as they may just tend to just sleep more.  However, once treated, and a cat has chronic inflammation relieved – we may see that the kitty who was not keeping its coat groomed and pretty – starts to groom again or that the senior kitty is jumping up on counters again!  With cats, we select products that are effective, yet easy to use.  KittyBoost or KittyBoost LITE are the main topical products you should select for musculoskeletal concerns, and really for any condition your cat may have.  It is truly an all purpose blend.  In terms of essential oils, KittyBoost contains all of the oils that are often included within other musculoskeletal blends – which are cat appropriate.  The KittyBoost blends also ensures that the ratios and concentrations of these oils are balanced and proper for felines (even though other species can use the blend as well!) Read more about these oils on their product pages.

New Mobility or Any-Itis for Cats?

Many people will ask if products such as New Mobility or Any-Itis can be used with cats, as they may have them already for other animals in the household. And while these products are still safe to use with cats – they are truly not the most cat friendly. New Mobility has a “pine” odor to it – and the concentrations are best suited for dogs, horses, and other larger animals. There are not many cats who enjoy smelling “fresh as a Carolina pine forest” – and so cats really should use KittyBoost or KittyBoost LITE as directed and described, instead of New Mobility. As for Any-Itis – it is quite heavy in “Peppermint” flavor. Which also is not a direct favorite for a cat. If your cat decides to love it – and eats your dogs food with Any-Itis in it – there is no big concern. It is still safe, and we do witness cats who DO like it. However, the majority will not. And if I started to recommend it routinely, I would say the larger percent of cats would not enjoy the attempt! However, you will note that all of the oils within Any-Itis are included in the KittyBoost blends. Therefore, they WILL be getting these essential oils – and also will ingest some while grooming – just not in a manner that might be overwhelming to a feline.

One exception to the recommendation for the use of the KittyBoost blends is if your kitty has an organ-specific concern. Then we may select a sister product – often known as the “Body Boosts”. So if your kitty has renal or urinary conditions – we may select to use UroBoost instead of KittyBoost. All of the Body Boosts (AdrenoBalance, CardioBoost, LiverBoost, NeuroBoost, SugarBalance, ThyroBalance, and UroBoost) – are basically KittyBoost – with the inclusion of additional essential oils that support that particular body system. So ThyroBalance can be used just as KittyBoost would be – however it contains additional Thyroid supportive essential oils – and will still be as effective for arthritis as plain KittyBoost would be.

kitten sitting in a litter box

Litteroma is the next thing I would recommend for cats.  It can be used alone, or with KittyBoost (or appropriate Body Boost) depending on what is most effective for your cat.  Sometimes depending on cat personality – we may select to only try Litteroma first.  For feral cats, or cats who would definitely not be fond of topical applications of essential oils – adding oils to the litterbox and allowing for absorption through the feet and grooming – is amazingly EASY!  Litteroma AllCat is my first recommendation for musculoskeletal concerns – however if your cat has a body specific concern, such as Hyperthyroidism, then selecting Litteroma ThyroidCat would be an excellent choice.  If Litteroma alone provides musculoskeletal relief to an older kitty – then great.  However, if we find that the cat is most comfortable through the use of KittyBoost and Litteroma – then we can do both! 

Chocolate lab with a training duck in its mouth

With Dogs, musculoskeletal concerns reign supreme. There does not seem to be a dog household in existence, that will escape dealing with some sort of issue. Older dogs with arthritis, active young pups who do silly things, search and rescue dogs being sore after work, ruptured ligaments, luxating patellas – the list goes on forever. There are many things we can do to support the entire dog – and certainly good diet, joint supplements, omega fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and proper hydration are key in maintaining health. But in terms of essential oils – there are several layers we can utilize for support.

New Mobility RTU is one of my favorite blends for topical use for dogs.  This blend contains a huge selection of oils that will help all of the tissues involved – muscles, tendons, ligaments, bone, nerves, cartilage – while reducing inflammation and supporting proper health and immune system function.  When selecting which products I will use first, I often consider the dogs’ personality.  Would they accept a topical massage with New Mobility RTU more than they would accept a “pepperminty” taste added into their food?  Do they already tolerate the “petting” of essential oils onto their body?  Are there other health concerns that could also use support, while addressing a musculoskeletal issue?  We recommend reading the product page and all of the information tabs for any blend you are interested in using.  Please note – the NEAT version of New Mobility is intended for experienced Veterinarians, Aromatherapists, and animal care specialists who will be creating custom dilutions for their clients.  If you are not experienced with how to dilute oils, or to which percentage you should dilute for various concerns or species – you should only order the New Mobility RTU (Ready TUse).

Some dogs may have other health concerns or may be using other blends to aid in actions such as repelling fleas and ticks.  Boost in a Bottle or AromaBoost applications may be enough for many dogs to support musculoskeletal comfort.  Many of the essential oils within these different blends, will overlap – often contributing to joint comfort – even if that was not our primary intention in its use.

However, if we have a very sore dog – we are fortunate to be able to layer several approaches together to best support them.  So if we have a dog getting a weekly AromaBoost RTU application, but they also may need a daily massage with New Mobility RTU to maintain joint comfort – then we can do that!  Being able to create multiple layers of help, is very effective, and allows us flexibility in care, without additional side effects that increasing or adding traditional drugs together can show.

Any-Itis is another blend that we want to consider for dogs experiencing musculoskeletal concerns.  Read a Past Newsletter HERE.  With Any-Itis, I often consider this my “NSAID Replacer”.  For any condition that a vet may prescribe an NSAID (Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam, etc…) or even a steroid drug – Any-Itis is generally recommended for use.  I mainly use this blend in food, twice a day.  Although it “can” be used topically – it is best suited for oral administration in my opinion.  All of the oils within Any-Itis are indeed in the other blends we recommend for topical use (New Mobility, Boost in a Bottle, AromaBoost).  

Any-Itis has been used long term (over a year) in hundreds, if not thousands of dogs.  And, we have used it (and all of our animalEO products) with every type of medication imaginable without detrimental effects.  In fact, with most cases, we find a synergistic effect with the administration of essential oils alongside of other medications – and sometimes see the need to reduce the dosage of prescription items.  While this is a desired effect, it is wise to recognize that if less of a prescription medication is needed – we may actually see side effects related to more of the drug being given, than is necessary.

When needed, I use Any-Itis added to food and New Mobility RTU as a topical massage – and I find this combination to be quite exceptional.  It can be added to existing protocols (ie Boost in a Bottle applications) and can easily be tailored to reflect amounts and frequencies that are needed for a certain individual.

While Any-Itis may not be necessary as a preventive measure – I do find that regular applications of Boost in a Bottle, AromaBoost RTU, or New Mobility RTU are very helpful for body support and health.  If I have a new puppy in my home, I might apply Boost in a Bottle at least weekly – and if that pup may be prone to knee issues of any sort, I might also make sure to either rub my hands over the knee with Boost in a Bottle residue on them, or use New Mobility RTU on an alternate day.

For any question on what to use for a dog who is experiencing musculoskeletal discomfort – you can be sure that my answer includes Any-Itis and New Mobility either alone or together – and will also always include addition of nutritional support for the joints.

Athletic horse turning around a barrel with a rider

Horses, goats, cows, llamas, pigs, and any other larger animals – are basically similar to dogs.  We can use items mentioned above as a rub topically, and we can also incorporate Any-Itis orally.  While we might think that these large animals “need” the NEAT versions of topical oils due to their size – this is being dispelled as we gain more and more experience.  New Mobility RTU is actually more effective as a rub onto a horses leg in the long run, than the New Mobility NEAT.  The Fractionated Coconut Oil within the RTU blends actually creates a slower, and more sustained absorption of essential oils into the body – so results seem to last a bit longer, and without the immediate evaporation seen with NEAT applications.  As a diluted formula – we may see that the impact of the application may be a bit less initially, but with repeat applications, will see more and more additive effects.

baby goat with tongue sticking out

With Any-Itis – the NEAT version is often well accepted by these animals in their feed.  Horses love the more intense peppermint flavor, and it does not seem to cause “avoidance” of the feed where the Any-Itis NEAT is the most concentrated (where the drops fall).  Again for these animals – we may select which product to use based on the ability for the farm to apply or administer, and by regarding the animal personality and preferences in general.  If no other feed is offered other than pasture or hay – then adding an item for oral administration twice a day may not be practical.  And if topical application of a blend can only happen once a day – then for sure our use of an RTU product within coconut oil, will allow for a longer, more sustained result.

The foot of a Camel

There are several other issues related to the musculoskeletal system, unique to these animals.  Hooves, claws, and toe nails. When issues may involve matters of these feet – then we may need to consider the addition of a blend such as HardyHoof. Again, this can be utilized with a product such as Any-Itis – but would be more appropriate to apply when there is an issue such as foot rot or a hoof abscess.  When needed, New Mobility RTU could still be massaged onto the leg of the affected hoof – but when we desire to drip oils directly onto a hoof lesion – HardyHoof would be a more correct selection.  

Don’t forget hempEO!

This full spectrum CBD product, blends the best of all worlds. Essential oils and full spectrum hemp! This is often a wonderful addition for an arthritic or sore animal!

Disclaimer:  This information was provided for educational purposes only, and has not been evaluated by the FDA.  It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe for, or treat any illness.  If you or your animal have a health concern, you are encouraged to seek the counsel of a health care professional who is knowledgeable in your area of interest.

Meet sweet “Molly”.  Molly was diagnosed with allergies, not only by her regular veterinarian, but also by a board certified veterinary dermatologist.  Molly was prescribed steroids, antibiotics, special prescription diets, and discussions of allergy shots and life long administrations of drugs like Apoquel or immune modulating drugs like Cyclosporine were pushed heavily as the “answer” for Molly’s severe discomfort.

For months, Molly had been itching horribly.  Her face and chin itched so badly, she would rub them all over the carpet of the house, resulting in blood streaks and stains that her caretakers (who also had their house on the market for sale) would have to clean up repeatedly.  Molly would appear to improve slightly on some treatments (steroids make everything “seem” better) – then when the medications were finished, she would be back to itching with a vengeance.

When I met Molly’s mom – it was clear to me that something was missing in Molly’s treatment plan.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when secondary infections are either not treated, or treated with inadequate protocols.  Not only had Molly not received a long enough duration of antibiotics for deep skin infections, she was also never treated for the potential secondary yeast infections that seemed very likely to be present.  Her dermatologist took a “sample” from the feet, did not see yeast, and ruled it out as a potential cause of her issues.  

dog with hair loss, darkness, and sores around its eye
Molly suffered with hair loss, itching, and even bleeding around her eyes.

“It’s not yeast”

You may have heard my soap box before – but here it is again.  The sensitivity of “yeast testing” for the skin is poor at best.  If you get a negative test for yeast on any type of skin test – to me it means absolutely nothing.  Certainly if we see a lot of yeast, it is likely to be an issue for the animal.  But the fact that a veterinarian may not find yeast at all – in a culture, a scraping, or a tape prep… MEANS NOTHING in my eyes.  I had recommended to Molly’s mom that she request a treatment trial of Ketonconazole for potential yeast infections, while also repeating a round of Cephalexin for possible staph bacterial infections.  In my practice, when I treat with these two drugs, I eliminate any need for steroid use at all.  Treating the primary cause of the itching is the utmost importance.  

Side Effects of Drugs

Many vets shy away from a treatment round of Ketoconazole. I personally find they are more afraid of a drug that has less complications associated with it (when prescribed properly) than the steroids or other medications that they are recommending. Steroids have KNOWN complications and side effects. It is pretty much accepted that they will increase liver enzymes with long term use. But when an owner mentions the possible use of Ketoconazole to their veterinarian – they get a lot of backlash. “Oh that would be hard on their liver.” In my opinion, a vet shouldn’t be any more worried to use Ketoconazole than steroids! I actually loathe steroids more than Ketoconazole any day of the week! I can assure you your dog will experience side effects with steroids. Increased drinking, increased urination, and other potential serious issues are common place with steroids, and veterinarians just warn you in advance of the “side effects” that you are destined to see. But…mention the use of Ketoconazole and they are fearful.

I would like to clear up why Ketoconazole is so often feared. Mainly I find it is due to lack of understanding, which also is compounded by improper dosage use. Ketoconazole is recommended within our Veterinary Drug Handbooks in quite a wide range of doses. You can find recommendations for skin yeast infections (Malassezia) that range from 5 to 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. (5-10 mg/kg). And you can find recommendations for it to be given once a day or twice a day. While there are potential adverse effects associated with Ketoconazole, many of these are dose related. With proper clinical use of the drug – I recommend 5mg/kg twice a day – we seem to not see these reported adverse effects, of which GI upset is most common. When you think about it – the use of 10mg/kg, which is still within many of the recommended dosing protocols, is DOUBLE the dose that I use in my practice. And when a drug has an option of being given once or twice a day, it usually indicates that the therapeutic window of the drug will actually run out within 12 hours or so. While some veterinarians may see therapeutic effects with once a day dosing and certainly owners may desire to only medicate once a day – what is best for the dog is a lower dose twice a day to a be most effective while avoiding any stomach upset or other adverse effects. Almost every case I have investigated of a dog not tolerating Ketoconazole, has usually been from the higher range of dosing being prescribed, and often it is being used only once a day. Ketoconazole generally comes in a 200mg tablet, so I often prescribe 1/2 pills and even 3/4 pills to obtain a dose as close as possible to 5mg/kg.

Length of Treatment

While we are talking about dosing – let’s also discuss length of treatment. For my practice, a dog for which I suspect secondary infections, will go onto a 21 day course of both Ketoconazole and Cephalexin. Owners are instructed to keep giving the medication until my recheck exam (approximately in 21 days) – and to not run out of the medications prior to the recheck. I want them to stay on the drugs until I can say to stop. In my vet school, I was taught by some amazing dermatologists. And for deep, chronic infections (likely dogs diagnosed with allergies have been suffering with infections for many months to years), the treatment should be continued for approximately 2 weeks beyond resolution of all signs or symptoms. For some of my patients, this will mean they will be on medications for months. But the main point is, never pause or stop the treatment. Treatment must be continued for an additional 2 weeks after all signs of infection are gone. Many times I find I can stop the Cephalexin portion of the treatment earlier than the yeast, but even this may be after 2 rounds or more of the 21 day cycles.

Antibiotics do NOT treat Yeast

Now for a word on Cephalexin. This is an antibiotic – so will not be effective against yeast. Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal medication – so this is the type of medication needed when yeast needs to be killed. So many allergy dogs have received round after round of various antibiotics, but rarely are they ever treated for yeast systemically. Sure, topical anti-fungal lotions, creams, and shampoos are often used. But to really get to the root of the problem, I typically find an orally administered anti-fungal is needed. Cephalexin is generally used for Staphylococcus bacterial infections of the skin. This is the more common cause of infections, and it may look like little red dots, little pimples, flaky round lesions, or a variety of odd skin appearances. Cephalexin is generally dosed at 10 milligrams per pound of body weight, and it is given two to three times a day. For most cases, I can use twice a day dosing. For severe infections or those that do not respond completely, we may try dosing three times a day (as close to every 8 hours as possible). The important dosing note with Cephalexin is to error on giving a bit too much, than too little. If your dog weighs 77 pounds, I would not be giving only 750mg of the drug twice a day. I would increase to the next dosage available (Cephalexin generally comes in 500mg and 250mg capsules) – so a dog over 75 pounds will get 1000mg of Cephalexin twice a day. Again this will generally be dosed for 21 days, making sure the drug is continued until the recheck exam can evaluate if it is needed still or it can be discontinued.

Cephalexin can make some dogs nauseous. This seems especially common in Pit Bull dogs (of which I have had a house full!), but any breed can experience nausea from Cephalexin. This could mean just not wanting to eat or even a bit of vomiting or drooling. We will often try Cephalexin first, as it is a more affordable alternative to “Simplecef” (Cefpodoxime Proxetil). Simplecef is given once a day and at the recommended dosages is quite effective. Most dogs who do not tolerate Cephalexin tolerate Simplecef just fine. The same duration of treatment is used with either Cephalexin or Simplecef. Treat for at least 21 days and never stop giving the treatment until 2 weeks after recheck examinations confirms all signs and symptoms are resolved.

Traditional vs Natural Treatments

Okay, now that you have had almost a years worth of vet school condensed into a few paragraphs…what if your veterinarian will absolutely not work with you on a trial treatment (as Molly’s dermatologist would not), or you wish to stay absolutely natural in your treatments?  Let me give you a couple of my thoughts here.  For many people, their dog has already been on steroids, many rounds of antibiotics, Apoquel, Cyclosporin (Atopica), and a variety of other medications like Benadryl, Temaril-P, other anti-histamines, allergy shots, Cytopoint shots, elimination diets, and the list can go on forever!  For these cases, I do not feel that using traditional medications PROPERLY is any more of an issue than what has already been done.  Traditional medications SHOULD be embraced when cases are severe, or there has already been a lot of use of traditional drugs in my opinion.  We should never be a martyr when it comes to demanding the use of “all natural” remedies if your dog is miserable.  There is a reason that traditional medication is available to us.  And sometimes there are clear indications that we should utilize it – especially when that means FINALLY eliminating the problem instead of just continuing to cover it up.  Indeed, you may need to look for another veterinarian if yours is closed to trying a treatment trial.

animalEO Recommendations

If your dog is just mildly affected (Molly would be classified as severe), there are some natural remedies we can use without the use of traditional medications – and essential oils are a large part of my treatment protocols. Topical applications of animalEO Essential Oil blends such as AromaBoost (RTU or LITE) at least once a week, Boost in a Bottle (original or LITE) in between those applications, diffusion of animalEO blends such as Open-Air, Exhale, or Strength (and many others) within the home can help reduce symptoms and contribute greater comfort and healing.

Then we have symptom specific blends such as YeastyBeasty RTU and YeastyBeasty NEAT. You can read about all of these products on their individual product pages for tips and instructions on how to use them. I love to make a wonderful shampoo with YeastyBeasty NEAT and 4-Legger Organic Shampoo – which can replace many toxic prescription “anti-fungal” shampoos. Read about making essential oil shampoo on our Shampoo Page.

Skin Spray Base can also be added to shampoo as well as used within a water-mist to soothe and comfort skin. It can reduce infections, itching, redness, and promote the body to heal while supporting normal immune function. For severe cases such as Molly, I would still layer treatments with essential oils along with traditional medications. For all animals I still feel essential oils can be vital in providing additional comfort and support to their immune system and healing.

All animalEO blends are safe to use with other medications, or with other health conditions your dog may have – when used as directed. All are safe, and actually expected, to be groomed or licked off of the animal they are applied to. If your dog is repeatedly licking and chewing their feet – then I would be a pretty stupid veterinarian to attempt to apply something to those feet that “shouldn’t” be licked off! It would make your life pretty difficult actually! So, in all reality – I intend for these blends to be licked, absorbed, and somewhat ingested. I say “somewhat ingested” because when essential oils are licked or “chewed” off of the skin, they are actually absorbed into the oral mucosa, not swallowed. So ingestion of oils technically means that they are swallowed. When an essential oil is swallowed, it actually is metabolized more by the body than when it is absorbed through the tongue or oral tissues. So a “licked” essential oil blend is actually more “bio-available” than a blend added to food in theory. However, we can certainly add more essential oils into foods, than we can expect or regulate to be “licked and absorbed” so we can often use both scenarios to our advantage.

Creative Uses of YeastyBeasty

These facts actually spurred our customers, who could not get their veterinarians to authorize a trial treatment for secondary infections (especially yeast), to start adding YeastyBeasty RTU to their dogs’ food. The thought process was that if it was safe to ingest, then maybe adding a bit extra would be even more helpful from the inside out. And guess what!? It has been. The dosing range has actually been quite wide, but even just a little bit added to each meal (1-2 drops) no matter what the dogs size, has shown results. When we consider that 8-10 drops may be applied topically to each foot or area that is affected on your dog, and then some of this may be licked off…we can really consider that quite a lot of this blend could be ingested or absorbed. I calculate all safety considerations regarding doses with very exacting standards when I formulate blends – so I have no concern at all that adding this blend into your dogs food would cause any negative issues. If you wish to try this out for yourself, I recommend that you start with one drop to each meal, and then monitor that amount being given for at least 3 days. If you see no adverse issues (soft stools or not wanting to eat), and wish to increase the amount given, then you can start adding 2 drops. I usually suggest that you wait at least 3 days after any changes in diet or protocols so that you can fully see what effects the changes have on the body, before making another change. If we change too many things, too quickly – it can become confusing to see which item helps, and which item may be hurting the situation.

Case Example

So let’s go back to Molly, and why I do not believe in allergies.  Before Molly became my patient, I saw “Jack”.  Poor Jack had such severe issues, we were actually seeing him as a final option.  His caretakers felt they were out of all options, and that he was so severe with “allergies” that no one could manage, that he would have to be put to sleep.  Below is just one of Jack’s feet.

Severe swelling, hair loss, and inflammation on a dogs foot
Severe swelling, hair loss, and inflammation on a dogs foot. Before Treatment.

Poor Jack looked like this on all of his feet. They were swollen, red, missing hair, and many lesions had open wounds. Nothing could control Jack’s condition and he was miserable. As a veterinarian who does not like to give up on anything, and one who feels strongly “THERE IS ALWAYS AN ANSWER” – I recommended that we treat Jack for secondary DEEP infections. Jack was on both Cephalexin and Ketoconazole (no steroids required) for several months. But every 21 days when he returned for a recheck, he continued to look better and better. Below is a photo of his next recheck exam.

Dogs foot showing much less swelling, redness and inflammation.
Much less swelling and inflammation, 21 days later.

Massive improvement was noted. The swellings had gone, the itching was so much less severe…Jack was on the mend. But I was not about to stop treatment yet. I was taught to treat 2 weeks beyond resolution of ALL signs. So Jack was on another 21 days of Cephalexin and Ketoconazole. A bit over a month later – at the next recheck – this is the same foot pictured below!

Dogs foot showing almost no lesions
Barely any hair loss is present, inflammation and redness is almost gone.

Jack’s case taught me a lot. I have always had a stubborn streak, and for Jack, the fact that I never want to give up – meant he could continue living. That is a huge reward to me. It is what this veterinarian desires most – to find a solution to a problem and help an animal have a better quality of life!

Molly’s Case

With Molly – I decided to take her on as a patient as I knew her mom, and I would be in classes with her for many months actually. So rechecks and updates on Molly’s condition were a breeze! Molly was miserable, and while her other veterinarians (dermatologist included) had medicated her and tried lots of things, she only obtained minimal comfort. Since everyone had refused to treat Molly with anti-fungal medications, I definitely wanted to eliminate that from my list of potential concerns. So Molly went on a round of Cephalexin and Ketoconazole. Within a week to two weeks though, Molly was still pretty itchy. This is not the typical response I see when only secondary infections are the cause of the pruritis (itching). I also felt strongly that Molly’s “pattern of distribution” was a bit odd to only be involved with secondary yeast and bacterial infections. There are classic locations for many infections in dogs – and for many skin diseases. Molly had a lot of symptoms concentrated to her eyes and chin, which for me, makes me start to wonder about autoimmune diseases or mites more commonly. Although I am certain Molly was still dealing with other secondary infections that would need to be dealt with, I felt certain there was some other underlying cause for her condition.

Because she continued to be “so itchy”, and because her owner reported that she felt better on steroids, but once they were gone symptoms returned even worse than before…I really wondered about her potential for sarcoptic mite infection. Turns out, Molly lives with another dog. And, this other dog is a Maltese. What do I know about Maltese? They go to a groomer quite often. Molly also had a history of visiting a dermatologist. What do these two locations have in common? Other dogs visit them, there is a potential for exposure to contagious diseases, AND when dogs have skin issues they often show up to a dermatologist or a groomer. So unfortunately, these locations by default, have more potential for your dog to be exposed to “bad things” if owners are seeking solutions to why their dog is itching in the first place. I know when we would have an “itching” dog come into our vet clinic, and we subsequently diagnosed sarcoptic mange (mites) – we would close down that exam room for disinfection, and ideally not have any dogs come into the clinic until a full cleaning regimen could be instituted.

When I asked more about Molly’s Maltese room mate… turns out he had also been more itchy lately. Hmmmm. Now, I was greatly suspecting that both dogs in the household could have Sarcoptic mites. And most likely Molly became more severe due to her secondary infections that compounded the situation. The steroids Molly was prescribed for her “allergies” – suppressed her immune system – and while they may have made her less inflamed and miserable for a short time – they also allowed the mites to flourish and become worse than before the steroids were given. But ask her dermatologist, and he was confident that Molly was an allergy dog, and an allergy dog only.

Happy Ending?

Like all good stories, you would like to know the ending, right?!  For very special people and animals, I do take on some one on one cases still.  Molly just tore at my heart strings enough for me to have her stop out at my home on a Sunday, so we could start a trial treatment for her and her “brother” for sarcoptic mange.  Sarcoptic mites can be very difficult to find on skin scrapings.  So occasionally when we are convinced that the history and symptoms coincide with potential infection, we will also do a treatment trial for the mites.  I am a bit old fashioned, so for dogs who can have Ivermectin – I still prefer to give a subcutaneous injection of this drug (herding breeds and collies should not get Ivermectin products).  I have performed treatment trials in many itchy dog households throughout my veterinary career – and for those dogs who have responded – it is nothing short of Heaven for their owners.  Many of the treatment trials had been scraped over and over again, finding nothing.  Treated with steroids over and over again, only to get worse.  Usually within 24 hours of ONE shot, the dog will start to feel less itchy (as long as we also control secondary infections!).  And that was the case for Molly and her room mate.  Within 1-2 days, Molly’s mom reported that both dogs were so much more comfortable and there was significantly less itching.

Dog with darkness around the eye, but with more hair growth, and no bleeding sores
Molly one week after Ivermectin Treatment

Molly continues to improve (as does her brother). The injection of Ivermectin will be repeated (2 weeks after the first), and for some dogs I will even give a third shot. I continued Molly on her treatments for secondary infections, but likely she will not need these for long once the mites are dead and gone. For sure we can see improvements for even mis-diagnosed “allergy” dogs with the use of essential oils, as most essential oils have broad spectrum effects. Even if I had Molly using an essential oil shampoo recipe for what we considered to be secondary yeast infections, those essential oils will often carry some insect killing capacity. Oils can be antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and insect repelling or killing. Everything that a “skin case” may need, even if we don’t recognize the primary cause. And essential oils can do so much more too! Relief of itching, support of the immune system, calming emotional stress, supporting drug metabolism and health of a liver that has been insulted by prescription medications… Every single case can benefit from essential oils!

But my dog TRULY has allergies!

Before I leave you completely, I feel I should address what you may feel are “true” allergies. I know some of you are saying, “But, my dog TRULY is allergic to beef” (or pollen, or dust mites, etc…). While there are items that aggravate dogs and can be categorized as “allergies” – and it can still be entirely helpful to avoid these items – I have witnessed more cases of “complicated” allergies than I can count. So, to explain it fully – your dog IS allergic to a certain pollen. This pollen aggravates your dog’s skin, and creates a very unhappy environment. Some scratching may occur. Additional skin oils are secreted from irritated skin which provide a happy home for yeast and bacteria. Skin that has lost its ability to maintain perfect defense mechanisms… allows secondary infections to take hold. Now, while it may be true that Spring time has brought the pollen that decreases the skins optimal health – it is the secondary infections that often contribute to the largest percentage of the symptoms you see. Scratching, chewing, blackened and thick skin – these are often not from the allergies as much as from the secondary yeast and bacteria that have invaded the skin. If you have ever had a yeast infection as a woman – you can sympathize with what it must be like for these dogs to have yeast infections of the paws, chin, armpits, groin, etc… Unfortunately, yeast remains the least effectively treated secondary infection that tends to be present when a dog is diagnosed with “allergies”. When secondary yeast infections are treated, even dogs with “true allergies” can often remain comfortable enough to not warrant the use of potentially harmful prescription medications.

Disclaimer:  This information was provided for educational purposes only, and has not been evaluated by the FDA.  It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe for, or treat any illness.  If you or your animal have a health concern, you are encouraged to seek the counsel of a health care professional who is knowledgeable in your area of interest.

Once again, I want to send out a big welcome to everyone who is new to our newsletter – and new to using essential oils with their animal family members! I thought that this newsletter would be a perfect time for me to reflect upon what I want you to know about myself, essential oils, and the animalEO brand of essential oil products for animals.

Who is Dr. Shelton?

First up, a little bit about myself. I’ll give you the very shortened version! I am an integrative (or holistic) veterinarian in Minnesota, and am also a Certified Aromatherapist, and Certified Equine Massage Therapist. I have owned Crow River Animal Hospital since 2001. In 2008, I started to use essential oils in the animal hospital for all sorts of medical and emotional concerns. I started to research and document the safe use and responses to the use of essential oils from a veterinary perspective. I then started to teach on the use of essential oils for animals, and even traveled internationally to do so. I also found that I REALLY enjoyed writing books on the subject, and detoured into my journey as an author.

While taking on all of these roles, I am also a mom, wife, business and hobby farm owner, founder of an animal sanctuary, and mom to many animal kids. Routine veterinary appointments for services such as vaccinations, spaying or neutering, or dental cleanings took a necessary “back seat” to the work I was doing with essential oils, and then in 2011 – I made the difficult (but very important) decision to completely close our animal hospital to traditional veterinary services, so that I could focus solely on cases using essential oils. Gradually, this change has evolved to making 100% of my work being focused on essential oils and animals.

I am dedicated to advancing the use of essential oils with animals to reflect safe use practices, have documented evidence of effects and safety, study long term use with animals in multiple forms, and also give realistic expectations of what oils can do for a variety of situations. Although essential oils are amazing in my eyes (and in the eyes of many others…) – there are some things they are very good for, and still others that they really shouldn’t be used for until we have further knowledge.

One of the hardest things about being “addicted” to essential oils in my opinion, is the fact that I LOVE to share how wonderful they are with people. However, the second I tell somebody about my area of specialty, I instantly draw back and feel protective that the person only use the highest quality of oil. The quality of any essential oil is one of the most important factors in determining if it can be used safely with animals. I used to believe that I could rely on one brand or another, for consistent quality. But, sadly, I found that this was not to hold true. The only way I knew how to guarantee that the essential oils people would be using with their animals (with my recommendations or teachings) were of the proper quality – was to evaluate each and every bottle for myself. So in 2014, animalEO was born!

What is animalEO?

animalEO is my own brand of essential oils for animals. Independent from any other essential oil company or brand, animalEO was created from years of veterinary experience, clinical documentation, and with careful consideration of what works best for a variety of species of animals.

The essential oils used in animalEO products are sourced from a variety of suppliers and distillers directly. I order in bulk quantities, so most of your average “brands” would be eliminated from any potential use just by the sheer financial aspects alone. Although I order in “bulk” – my order amounts are certainly smaller than most large companies. So, I find that I can actually source smaller batches of oils from amazing artisan distillers and suppliers – providing even higher quality than what I could access previously!

With every essential oil, I personally use and evaluate each single as a human, and then with my animal family. One of my favorite slogans is “animalEO…Tested on Humans. Safe for Animals!” It really is true. I would never use an essential oil for an animal, that I have not personally used for myself in every manner that I would for an animal. So if it is ingested, I have ingested it. If it is used in drinking water, it has been in my drinking water first. Added to foods, yep, it goes in my morning oatmeal! I really find that I need to have a personal relationship with each oil or oil blend, to have a complete understanding of it. Animals cannot tell us if an oil felt warm, hot, or cold on the skin. They cannot explain that when it is 20 below zero with a wind-chill, that having Peppermint on their skin feels a bit too cold!

Beyond just the experience of using a certain essential oil, I also feel it is very important that I have used each batch and lot number of an essential oil we “order in”. This means that every time there is a new harvest, even if it is from the same grower and distiller that we have purchased from before – I will evaluate and use that new “lot” to make sure it is up to my full specifications. Oils do vary from harvest to harvest – and that is an important aspect to why they are able to outsmart bacteria, viruses, and fungi – leaving no room for the creation of resistance. But, this “harvest variation” can also mean that I might change the ratio of the Melissa essential oil added to our KittyBoost – based on the new constituent profile, smell, or aesthetics of the oil as it relates to an animal. Most oil lots have been in use in my “private” family of humans and animals for about a month, before they are ever added to a “public” blend or product!

Is it safe?

Safety of essential oils, especially with species such as cats and exotics, is always a common question. So much information “out there” on essential oils, is based on a variety of published toxicity reports – but usually these reports are based on horrible misuse of the essential oil. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil is not inherently toxic to animals – however when 60 mLs of the essential oil is applied to three cats – I am not surprised to hear that there was an issue. That is a horrendous overdose of essential oil, no matter what essential oil is being used! I can perform an internet search on several essential oils that have amazing safety records with animals, and consistently find a list that will include that particular essential oil as “dangerous”. It is very important to note that each essential oil has its own proper dosage range, and that range will be greatly affected by the quality of the oil. A poor quality oil should have a dose of ZERO in my mind, and this also can go for older or oxidized oils as well. What people often do not realize is that the proper dose of an essential oil, is greatly affected by many factors – not just the oil and the species of animal.

What I can guarantee you, is that all of the animalEO essential oils, whether a single or a blend, have been used with thousands of animals in home, shelter, and veterinary settings – and usually with blood work and other laboratory tests before, during, and after the essential oil use (I say usually, because we do not routinely run blood work on our fish or rodents!) Some of our recipes have even been used with cats on a daily basis for over 4 years! With animalEO quality, blending ratios, dilution ratios, and recommendations for use – you can rest assured that the use of essential oils for your animal family – is following along with our most current research and experience base.

Can I see your testing?

Sometimes people ask for a GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) or other quality testing reports on the essential oils we use. Sadly – this is a huge labor burden in actuality. Being that some of our blends have upwards of 15 essential oils within them – providing all of the laboratory reports for each oil is a lot of work. If there was a valid reason that someone was asking for the data – I certainly could provide it. Sadly – many people have no idea how to read the actual report or evaluate it – and they are merely asking for it to “tick a box” to prove that you have a report. I just simply do not see the value in doing all of that work to “prove” I have a report. I too was told to ask a company if they provided this data, as part of my aromatherapy certification. Truly, just because you ask, and just because they have the report – doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you have an expert to review them or the expensive references to compare them to. I choose to spend my time creating oils and helping animals, not creating databases or digging through files for the appropriate reports for the oils present in your particular bottle.

Are your oils organic?

Another common question is if our oils are organic. Some are, and some aren’t. And this is not because organic is not worth it – but some essential oils and plants have suffered greatly in quality in order to obtain an organic certification. Sadly – some wild harvested and artisan crafted oils are far superior in quality and purity than any organic certified source. I will forever pick the most safe, most effective, and highest quality oil for use with animals over a certification any day of the week. Sad, but true.

Why buy, when you can DIY?

My goal with animalEO was never to create an essential oil company in all actuality.  For years, people have requested to purchase my blends and recommendations instead of having to make them on their own.  Some of the recipes I use can contain over 10 different essential oils.  I often found that certain essential oils would be omitted from a homemade recipe due to costs or availability, but also that some DIY recipes were just plain dangerous, irresponsible, or created incorrectly due to poor directions.  Just like leaving an important ingredient out of a bread recipe – it just doesn’t quite turn out when the dough doesn’t rise properly.  animalEO not only insures high quality essential oils, that I feel comfortable with using on my own patients, but it insures that the most effective recipe is used – every time!  I hand blend all of our products personally, and family, friends, and now a small number of employees help me label and fill bottles, twist on caps, and ship out products.

I hope that this newsletter gives you a small insight into my love for essential oils, as well as for my passion in creating the animalEO line of essential oil products and providing accurate and current information on the best possible ways to use essential oils for so many amazing things! Make sure to see our website – for ingredient lists, characteristics, and recommended ways to use animalEO for your particular species of animal!

You can also find some great help and assistance with recommendations in our animalEO Facebook group by CLICKING HERE and requesting to join!

Disclaimer: This information was provided for educational purposes only, and has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe for, or treat any illness. If you or your animal have a health concern, you are encouraged to seek the counsel of a health care professional who is knowledgeable in your area of interest.

It is always very sad to me when people describe their dogs as having anxiety to thunderstorms, fireworks, or even to the sheer fact that you have left the house (aka separation anxiety).  It is actually becoming quite an epidemic, and there are several reasons for this occurrence.  Probably the most significant cause of anxiety in dogs is from lack of exercise and quality leadership from the humans in their life.  That’s right…  We humans are largely to blame.  I’ll warn you now – my opinion is not always popular with those who baby their animals.  But, I will guarantee you – that when I do behavioral consultations and training – if the human behaviors have not been addressed for a dog – the anxiety problem is not likely to be resolved.  I have to break it to you now – please take a deep breath – are you ready???   Here it is – YOUR DOG DID NOT COME FROM YOUR WOMB!  Are you okay?  Did you fall over onto the floor?  Take a deep breath, you’ll be okay, I promise.  The truth of it is, if you treat a dog like a human, you will create abnormal feelings in a dog.  Consider if you treated a child like a dog.  What kind of emotional trauma would occur?  This happens in reverse, when we treat a dog like a human.  As much as we would like them to be – dogs are just not humans. 

A worried dog.

The most natural thing for a dog – is to be treated like a dog.  For this to happen, it is often helpful to think of how dogs treat each other.  When a storm rolls in or fireworks go off, and a dog in a pack is frightened…  What would the other members of the pack do? 

One – they might ignore the situation.  You will generally never see another dog running over to the scared dog, and trying to comfort them.  When a dog is scared, and we say “What’s wrong?  Are you okay?  It’s okay…  It’s okay…”  We actually confirm to the dog that there is something to fear.  How we initially respond when a puppy first experiences a fearful event, is incredibly important.  How we react, can form a base of behavioral response for a lifetime (however, it can be corrected.)  Imagine if my children were to go to the dentist.  If I acted like there was something to fear every time, and I confirmed their thoughts that a dentist visit was scary, I don’t think the visit would be a very happy and low stress event for them.  Instead, we promote bravery and calm behavior.  For a dog, bravery and calmness, often equals being ignored.  So, when a dog experiences an event that is scary – we need to actually “ignore” it.  I ask my dogs to do something else that takes their mind off of things, and promotes confidence – sit stays, down stays, heel during a walk – anything other than babying them, giving them treats, feeding them, petting them, or coddling them.  If you don’t know what to do, you are better off doing absolutely nothing at all – than risking “promoting or rewarding” the fear or anxiety response.  That means – do not talk, pet, feed, react – in any way shape or form!  Pretend that your dog is invisible!

Second – a pack may actually attack the “abnormally” behaving pack member.  After all, abnormal behavior may bring harm to a pack – so it is generally not tolerated.  Of course, we do not need to punish or attack the abnormal dog.  Since we are not dogs – our communication of this event – is often very poor.  Things like “Alpha Rolls” are largely unnecessary, and may actually create worse situations like fear aggression or fear urination.  Of course, there are situations were a little bit of physical force may be required for a dog – however, it is generally NOT with anxiety dogs.  I have indeed, had to scruff or physically “handle” a dog that is basically trying to attack me – and there is a place for it – but with anxiety dogs, you are better off with good leadership skills and a training collar.  We will have to discuss training collars and methods another time – but I do not recommend choke chains, pinch collars, prong collars, shock collars, or flat collars.  My favorite system, that we have used for over 20 years, is a snap around collar.  You can see more about the system and the collar at

Okay – so that covers the way humans respond to their dogs that promotes anxiety – however we also promote anxiety in our dogs with lack of exercise.  Many breeds are high energy or working dogs.  These dogs are meant to have mental and physical stimulation and work, for a large portion of their day.  When we do not provide adequate exercise for a dog – the excess energy can be turned into “negative” behaviors.  Basically, a tired dog is a good dog.  But you can’t just go throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball…  This actually ramps up behaviors and creates a dog with more stamina.  Just like if you want your kids to go to bed – we read them a nice quiet bedtime story.  We do not try to wear them out with a big round of jumping on the bed!  Mental activity is what makes dogs and kids the most tired.  Remember when your child (if you have one) started kindergarten?  They were so exhausted at the end of the day.  Learning and thinking is more tiring than lots of active physical activity.  My dog could run a 5K Fun Run, and still drag my friend for another 5K.  However, ask him to heel perfectly around the block – and he was exhausted!

It has become more and more obvious to me as the years go by, that many people just do not understand how important training can be or just how life changing it can be for an animal.  The mindset just has to be changed.  Thinking about a thunderstorm or fireworks as something we have no control over, and that it is just a dreaded event – needs a bit of an overhaul.  I again, go back to explaining this as a human childhood event.  My mother LOVES thunderstorms.  She instilled this love of thunder, lightning, and even a good “Tornado Warning” – as a magical event of nature into her children (even if she was truly worried).  We didn’t fear a “basement event” – it was like camping.  So once I had children of my own, I valued how much my opinion of a normally fearful situation (although still fully respected), would matter to their outlook on life.

In regards to dogs, the questions I get regarding what to do for thunderstorm or fireworks anxieties always have a common vein.  Everyone feels so powerless against these forces.  Those horrible neighbors lighting off fireworks.  Oh no, rain in the forecast.  Now what!?  Well, change your view, change your world.  How about, “Wow, thanks neighbor for the new training opportunity!  Normally, I’d have to pay for a noise maker to train my dog!  But you!  YOU, beautiful person, have spent your hard earned money, and use your valuable spare time – JUST TO PROVIDE ME WITH TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR MY DOG!  You love me!  You REALLY LOVE ME!”…

Okay, a bit of overkill.  But can you see it?  Can you see that if we change our mind about how we view things, we could just change the world?  Or at least your world.

But wait!  How does this work?  Think about service and therapy dogs.  Rarely ever would I hear people say things like, “Darn that person in a wheelchair!  My dog is afraid of it.  How dare they use it near my dog!”  Again overkill, but do you see the exact relationship?  When we train a dog as a therapy dog, we embrace crutches and wheelchairs in our dog training classes.  We purposely expose our dog to these items, WHILE training them.  We value the opportunity and understand the need to make our dog heel, sit, stay, and ignore the items that may cause problems while working.  We do not wrap them in a ThunderShirt.  We do not give them medications.  We TRAIN them.  We are also not just letting them cuddle up to us, or run rampant within the training facility when we expose them to said wheelchair (which is often what people do in their homes)… they are ON LEASH, working, heeling, sitting, staying, recall.  We walk and WORK them past the wheelchair.  If your dog is off-leash, you are not really training them.  Just because your dog is sitting, does not equal that you gave the command to sit, or that you are in control of it.  Please, please, please…change your “training” into real training – and you will discover near miraculous results.

While I’m fine with still using supplemental tools for dogs in need, it is “I” who experience anxiety when I hear of people wanting to use an essential oil (or now the popular CBD oil, or any other tool) to “fix their dog’s anxiety” while ignoring training.  Even if you have a little dog, an old dog, a young dog, a well behaved dog, a dog who does not need training, a blind dog, a deaf dog…I have heard all the excuses.  ANY behavioral issue that you feel you have no control over, should be viewed as a training opportunity.  The pure lack of training, true training, in every dogs’ life, is staggering when you look at it.  If your dog cannot do a sit stay for a few minutes, and truly do a sit stay, and you are reading this article… start looking for a training center, book, YouTube video, or person who you resonate with that can at least teach you one basic training skill.  Then, instead of fretting over your dog during the next thunderstorm – start working.  Train a trick.  Train a sit stay.  Walk, heel, turn, repeat – even if in your living room.  Put your dog in a sit stay on leash, stand in front of them, and ask them to come (recall).  Repeat this recall for the entire duration of the thunderstorm if needed.  The time you normally would be coddling or worrying about your dog, dedicate to ANY training event instead.  I promise you, if you do this, your life will change!

Now, onto nutritional issues that cause anxiety, hyper-activeness, or otherwise contribute to behavioral “faux pas”.  There are no perfect diets out there these days.  Whether you feed raw, home cooked, kibble, organic, canned, holistic, or whatever…  ALL diets are deficient in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and nutrients.  Our world and soil is just not the same as it used to be – so all foods do not contain adequate levels of these items.  And, as soon as a diet is processed or cooked – vital enzymes are destroyed – sometimes making it impossible to absorb and utilize the nutrients.  So – I will ALWAYS supplement any diet (but especially those of anxiety dogs) with a few different items.  First, Standard Process Canine Whole Body Support is vital for making sure the body has what it needs.  This is a whole food supplement – containing all of the nutrients in a raw, undamaged, whole food form.  You can read more about what I call the Foundation of Health and Standard Process Supplements HERE – and if you happen to have a bird, rat, horse, or cat – we still use all of these products for them.  So – cats can get the feline versions, but can also take the canine powder.  Birds can take the canine powder quite easily.  Horses have an equine formulation.  And my rat eats up the canine formula or even the human chewable versions.  Brains do not function normally, without proper nutrition, so although it may sound weird, it is vital to have proper nutrition for anxiety dogs.

Next, on the nutritional hit list – are grains and carbohydrates.  These pack high energy and sugars into the diet.  Sort of like feeding your hyper kid lots of sugar.  It just doesn’t add up to a good situation.  So – we often recommend a species appropriate and largely grain free diet.  Grains are things like corn, cornmeal, wheat, rice, oats, oatmeal – and although sometimes there are health benefits with certain grains – we need to be cautious with the amounts of these items that dogs consume.  And, the scary part is that “grain-free” diets that are now everywhere on the market – actually contain more carbohydrates than some of the kibble diets filled with grains!  Items like peas that are added to grain-free diets in order to make them “crunch” and form into kibbles… still provide huge amounts of carbohydrates into your dogs meal.  And, this could be just as bad, if not worse in the long run – as has been shown by the information showing grain free diets linked to heart disease (cardiomyopathy).  I recommend looking into the vast information on species appropriate diets provided by Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Becker.  You can find out more at Planet Paws – and find many educational links to the information that Rodney and Karen have been graciously sharing with the world!

Minerals are one of the next big things that I make sure anxiety dogs (as well as humans and other animals) are supplemented with.  Standard Process human formulations such as Organically Bound Minerals or Trace Minerals B12 are some of my favorite mineral supplements.  Most dogs take these quite easily.  Minerals are known as a “natural calmative” and their supplementation has greatly helped humans and animals with anxiety issues.  All neurotransmitters function with the use of enzymes and minerals, so if these are not supplied, neurons cannot fire and transmit information properly.

Digestive enzymes are next on the list.  Did you know that everyone is deficient in enzymes?  Basically, animals are being born deficient these days.  Generations of animals are being born and raised on processed foods, which lack enzymes.  Over time, this deficiency becomes more and more pronounced, and it is my belief that a large portion of “hereditary” disease is being formed on enzyme and nutritional deficiencies.  I will often use Prozyme digestive enzymes for animals (mainly dogs and cats) and am also fond of Mercola Healthy Pets Digestive Enzymes.  Anxiety (and actually almost all health issues) can be linked directly with enzyme deficiency.  Not only do the lack of enzymes prevent normal digestion and absorption of nutrients, but all of your body functions, as well as your brain activity, function with enzymes.  Brains are basically one big gigantic blob of enzymes!  When enzymes are not present in foods or the body in adequate levels – brains don’t quite function right.  And, anxieties can be promoted.

Okay – so that already sounds like a lot of information – but there is MORE!  That is why it can be so rewarding to work with “end of the line” anxiety dogs.  Once you realize how many things can improve their life – there is always something more to try.  Certainly other modalities such as Acupuncture, Acupressure, CBD oil, Massage, Reiki, TTouch, ThunderShirts, Flower Essences, Herbs, Electrostim, and more – have proven beneficial for some anxiety dogs.  If you find one of these modalities helpful – then USE IT!  However, my favorite thing to use (well, second to training) is Essential Oils of course!  We have tremendous results with animalEO blends such as Calm-a-Mile RTU!  Petting your dog with a light coating of any of the animalEO blends on your hands (prior to applying a ThunderShirt or onto the shirt itself), allowing your dog to “lick up” the Calm-a-Mile RTU from your hand if desired (as mine do), or diffusing animalEO essential oil blends (the ones created for diffusion) into the air have brought amazing results to many.

Let’s cover one of the reasons why essential oils can be so incredibly helpful to anxiety issues.  Do you know that a huge majority of anxiety dogs (and humans and other animals) will also have gastrointestinal issues?  This works both ways actually.  Gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation can make you anxious, and being anxious can cause GI symptoms.  Because essential oils are the ultimate “cross-trained” therapy, they do not only provide calming – but can indeed provide anti-inflammatory actions to the gut or other areas of the body.  So, amazingly enough, the essential oil blend you might have selected for calming your animal – might just be supporting other aspects of the anxiety and body, that are highly necessary for a full body approach to anxiety and behavior issues.

Diffusion in the household can bring amazing and consistent results – and you can read more about Diffusion HERE.  Essential oil blends of all sorts can bring calming benefits, so even diffusion of Warmth Diffusion Blend can bring anti-anxiety effects and many essential oils are being researched for their continued benefits.

animalEO blends that I most recommend to try when you are dealing with anxiety, fear, or other behavioral concerns include quite a long list…  It is true that every essential oil not only has a physical effect, but an emotional component as well.  Some blends may “jive” with a particular individual or household better than another, and this is normal.  We can even see certain individuals who are “excited” and energized from normally calming oils!  I always recommend for my clients to try several options, and the ability to try Sample Sizes of animalEO blends is a great option to screen through several formulas to decide on which resonates better for your loved one!

Trying out items such as Calm-a-Mile RTUCalm-a-Mile NEAT (for diffusion), CharmingClear SailingFeathered Blend NEAT (for diffusion), Hormone BlendSmooth DeliveryStrengthSunshine in a BottleTransition, and Warmth Diffusion Blend have all been helpful.  hempEO is a fabulous full spectrum CBD blended with beneficial essential oils. As we’ve discussed, the physical effects of fear and anxiety are great.  The release of additional stress hormones and cortisol can be significant, and adrenal glands can become stressed.  It is for these reasons that “physical blends” such as AromaBoost RTUBoost in a Bottle, or AdrenoBalance can be found helpful and calming as well.  We often describe a sometimes profound post-Boost sleepiness as an “Aroma Coma”, and it is true, many dogs take quite a long and peaceful nap after an application!

I do not worry about this calm episode.  To me it is entirely beneficial, and has never seemed abnormal. Purely the body and mind’s response to having inflammation decreased, hormones balanced, and other physical ailments at bay for possibly the first time in a long time!  I purposely use this calm after the application, to my advantage.  If you do know that your dog tends to have an “Aroma Coma” – and they have a stressful event coming up – then time an application before the event.

I have not found that you will overwhelm your dog however, by using multiple layers of essential oils.  I often recommend that people diffuse in the home, apply a form of a topical body boost, and also use a calming formula like Calm-a-Mile RTU.  To me, these layers become so much more valuable, than overwhelming in nature.  So, while I might start with one thing, I will usually add all of them as I progress.  And in times of true need, will use them all at once, right from the beginning.

The basic rule with all oils and supplements is to start with a small amount, and gradually build up how much is given.  Adding supplements is like a dietary change – it is best done gradually and slowly.  Some animals may need more of an item, and some animals may need less.  We often tailor the amount to the individual animal.  The animal formulas of the Standard Process supplements have recommendations for how much should be given – but I still start with smaller doses and gradually increase them to the recommended amounts.  I have still encountered a few animals that require less than the recommended dosage at first – and it is always best to take an individual approach to everything we provide.

Use essential oils prior to when they are needed ideally. Play around with things. Apply an AromaBoost application, and then watch the reactions and note how long they last for. This will be the same approach for a car ride, or other stressful event you are preparing for. If you know ahead of time, start to experiment a bit. Try to not use oils ONLY when the stressful event is upon you. If you only reach for essential oils when it will thunder, or when you will be going to a vet visit – your animal will start to associate the bottle and smell with the stressor. And while you can still achieve calm with the use of an oil (for sure I will use it in a veterinary appointment for a stressed animal!), if we choose to condition our animals that essential oil use correlates to happy, calm, loving, food-eating times – we can magnify our results ten-fold or more. Wear the essential oils yourself, and snuggle away with your dog. Show them that if you equal comfort – you also smell like comfort.

Disclaimer:  This information was provided for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat any illness.  If you or your animal have a health concern, you are encouraged to seek the council of a health care professional who is knowledgeable in your area of interest. 

*DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not to replace proper medical care and guidance. The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA - and any recommendation is not intended to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease or condition. Please work with your veterinarian with any health concern.