Blending your own custom flower remedy blend for your dog can be extremely satisfying. I’ve done it for nearly three decades now, and the behavior results can be amazing, not to mention the insights you can gain into your dog’s personality. This article will guide you through the various tips and tricks of blending a flower remedy formula for your dog.
Can flower remedies be used straight from the stock bottle?
Flower remedies may be used straight from the concentrated stock bottle. This is a good option if you want to test out an essence you haven’t tried before, or if you need to use it now and not wait to prepare a dosage bottle.
Disadvantages to using flower remedies straight from the stock bottle are:
- the drops will have a higher alcohol content than a typical dosage bottle, and may have a stronger taste than some dogs will appreciate.
- since more concentrated does not equal more effective in flower essences, it’s unnecessarily expensive.
Can you give regular Rescue Remedy to animals?
Regular, “human” Rescue Remedy can be given to animals, including dogs. For very small dogs, and for dogs that have any health issues that may make them sensitive to the alcohol in human Rescue Remedy, you can:
- use the pet version (which uses a glycerin preservative),
- dilute the essences,
- or use an alternative method of administration, such as applying topically or misting it onto the dog. (For more on that, see my article Simple, Effective Ways to Give Flower Essences to Animals)
Caution! It’s important to be aware that dogs should never be given Rescue Remedy Pastilles, as these contain the sweetener xylitol, a substance highly toxic to dogs.
Can you mix flower remedies?
Flower essences can be used either individually or mixed into a blend to balance emotional reactions. Single essences can work well when the behavior in question is relatively simple and straightforward. They’re also appropriate when there is such a jumble of emotions and reactions that it’s difficult to get a clear picture of what the emotions are that are contributing to the problem.
Using one essence at a time can make for slow progress, but it does let you weed out which essences don’t seem to have any effect.
There are many problem dog behaviors that are more complex than a single flower remedy can effectively address. Mixing flower essences allows you to target the range of emotions involved in the behavior. This means you can move more quickly and efficiently to improve the problem behavior.
An example of a behavior with a more complex emotional picture would be leash reactivity in dogs. This one behavior can be a complex mix of stress, frustration, uncertainty, bossiness, poor self-control, and anger.
Determining the motivation behind your dog’s behavior will often be more a matter of painting a portrait than drawing a stick figure. You may be able to get a truer representation with a palette of complementary colors than just a single shade.
Why make a flower remedy dosage bottle?
Blending your choice of flower remedies into a dosage bottle is more consistent, convenient, and economical.
By combining a focused blend of essences into one bottle, your dog consistently receives the same treatment each time he gets a dose.
Because it’s only necessary to use a few drops of each flower essence per 1 oz. bottle, by using a dosage bottle your flower essences will go much farther.
This is far more economical than using essences from the stock bottle and combining them on the spot. When using a dosage bottle, you give about 3 or 4 drops total per dose. When using flower remedies from a stock bottle, you’ll use 3 or 4 drops of each remedy per dose.
Add that up to a few times each day, and that’s quite a bit more trouble.
How do you mix a flower remedy blend for your dog?
Into a clean, preferably sterilized 1 oz. dropper bottle, add 3-6 drops of each flower remedy you’ve selected for your dog. Add 1 tablespoon brandy to preserve the mix.
If using an alternative preservative like apply cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin, use about 50% of the bottle volume.
Top off with pure spring water. Place dropper back in the bottle, screw on the cap and shake vigorously in an up-and-down direction.
Your flower essence blend is now ready to use!
How to make a flower remedy blend without alcohol
If you’re choosing Bach flowers for your dog’s flower essence blend, there will always be at least some very small amount of alcohol present. This is because Bach flower stock essences are preserved with brandy. This is the case with most (but not all) systems of flower essences.
In the amounts given to animals, brandy is a very safe preservative. However, if you prefer to avoid even tiny amounts of alcohol, or if your pet has a medical condition that makes it wise to avoid alcohol altogether, you definitely have options.
Choose one of the following to virtually eliminate alcohol in your dosage bottle:
- Don’t use a preservative. The disadvantage to this is that you get a short shelf life for your formula. Keeping it cold can extend how long it stays good.
- Use an alcohol-free preservative. Glycerin, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar are all good, alcohol-free preservative options for flower essence dosage bottle.
- Make a twice-diluted dosage bottle. See below for instructions. With this method, you reduce the amount of alcohol in the bottle to nearly zero.
How many flower essences can I use at once?
Most sources suggest limiting yourself to between 5 and 7 essences as a general rule of thumb. This is not written in stone, however; you can definitely use fewer or more flower essences at a time.
Once you realize flower essences can be combined to make a more complete behavioral picture, it can be hard to narrow down your choices.
It’s fair to say that your results are likely to be better if you avoid the temptation to throw in every possible essence that could apply. (Often referred to as the kitchen sink approach.)
Using my favorite analogy of “painting a picture” of your dog’s behavior: while a nice selection of colors will allow for a truer likeness, too many can create a muddy mess.
Things to consider when deciding how many essences at once:
- Ideally, the blend should present a clear, concise behavioral picture. It doesn’t need to cover every aspect of your dog’s behavior in every conceivable situation.
- Too many essences will make it harder to know which is helping improve the behavior.
- With fewer essences, it’s easier to identify what emotions are motivating your dog. This can be a huge help in training and behavior modification.
- If your dog has never been on flower essences before, it may be worth starting with a few key essences, and building up if necessary, to avoid flooding your dog with too much adjustment at once.
- If the situation calls for help as quickly as possible (and I assume you’re getting some professional training help if it does), then feel free to use a shotgun approach (i.e. a broader range of likely essences) to make sure your dog’s emotional bases are covered. Even in this situation, though, you should be able to narrow it down to no more than, say, eleven essences.
Do I use the same amount of each essence?
This seems to be a matter of personal experience and preference. In general, I use the same number of drops of each essence in a blended formula.
Others like to use more drops of the key essences, and fewer drops of the supporting essences. While this makes sense – and you should feel free to experiment – I personally haven’t seen a difference in effect from varying the recipe that way.
How to sterilize a dosage bottle
If you do a web search on “how to sterilize dropper bottles” you’ll see quite the array of methods. For home use, and assuming you’re using new bottles, sterilization is a fairly simple procedure that will help your flower essence formula stay safe and ready to use for many months:
1. Put bottle and dropper into a small bowl with mild dish soap added. Dawn works well for this.
2. Using warm water, wash the bottle and dropper top well. Be careful with the dropper – they are delicate. You might find it easier to wash the bottle and dropper separately, to avoid banging (and potentially breaking) the glass dropper against the bottle.
3. Rinse well.
4. Fill a small pan with about an inch of tap water.
5. Add a small amount of water to the dropper bottle (no more than ¼ of its volume).
6. Stand the bottle upright in the pan, and then place the dropper into the bottle.
7. Cover everything with some loose-fitting aluminum foil. You can tuck the foil around the bottle so that it supports it and keeps it upright.
8. Gently bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that the pan simmers.
9. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
10. Be sure to check the water level periodically to make sure it doesn’t evaporate completely.
11. At the end of 15 minutes, turn off the heat, and remove the foil carefully, being aware of the scalding hot steam underneath.
12. Remove the dropper bottle from the pan with clean tongs. Allow to drain on a clean lint-free cloth or paper towel, or place on a rack to drip dry.
13. Once the bottle is cool enough to handle, you can make your flower essence blend as described above.
[You may notice this method does not involve submerging the bottle and dropper in boiling water. That’s because the foil over the pan will keep in the steam as the water simmers. And, as you may remember from your high school science class, the temperature of steam is higher than that of boiling water. So it’s a very effective way to sterilize.]
As I said, there are more ways than you might imagine to sterilize bottles. A quick web search will turn up an evening’s worth (at least) of reading and video watching.
How long will a dosage bottle last?
The shelf life of your dosage bottle will depend on several things. Did you clean it before use? sterilize it? Add a preservative? Keep contaminants out of the liquid? (Usually contaminants are introduced when you touch the dropper to some surface, then put it back in the bottle without rinsing it well.)
Assuming you’ve been careful to avoid introducing contaminants to the liquid,
- A washed and sterilized dosage bottle with 20% brandy as preservative should stay good about 3 years.
- A washed and sterilized dosage bottle with 50-70% vegetable glycerin or vinegar as preservative should stay good for several months. (A higher percentage of preservative will give a longer shelf life.)
- A washed but not sterilized dosage bottle preserved with brandy should stay good a couple of months.
- A washed but not sterilized dosage bottle preserved with glycerin or vinegar should stay good a month or so.
- A washed and sterilized dosage bottle with no preservative should be used within a week (and should be kept in the fridge when not in use).
- A washed but not sterilized dosage bottle with no preservative should be used within 3 days (keep it in the fridge when not using).
Always be careful to avoid touching your dosage bottle dropper tip to anything, but especially to any likely sources of germs and bacteria. Your dog’s mouth or beard, kitchen counters, the floor, your dog’s food bowl, are all prime sources of contaminants that will greatly shorten your dosage bottle’s shelf life.
Can flower remedies be stored in the fridge?
Stock remedies do not require refrigeration, and dosage bottles made using a preservative will not need to be kept cold. But flower remedy dosage bottles may be stored in the fridge if desired. Keeping the dosage bottle cold will extend its shelf life which is especially helpful if you choose to avoid using brandy or other alcohol to preserve the formula.
How do I know if my flower remedy dosage bottle is still good?
The easiest way to tell if your dosage bottle is still good is to look at it. Hold the bottle up to a strong light and shake it a little. Do you see bits of “stuff” floating around in the liquid? If so, those shouldn’t be there! Toss that sucker out.
Now, don’t worry if you see little “currents” in the liquid. You can see this glycerin, especially, since the glycerin is thicker and more viscous than water. Those swirls aren’t harmful – just pretty, and a little hypnotic if you look at them too long.
Sensitive animal? Make a twice-diluted dosage bottle
Certain animals are energetically sensitive; this is one of those individual things that can happen in any species. And certain types of animals, such as birds, can be generally sensitive to alcohol.
For these animals, a clever way to use flower remedies safely is to make a twice-diluted dosage bottle of your flower essence blend.
To do this, first make your blend as described above. Then put one dropperful of it into a second cleaned and sterilized bottle. Fill with spring water, screw in your dropper, and you are good to go.
Keep in mind, this twice-diluted bottle will have no effective amount of preservative, so you will want to either use it within about 3 days, or keep it cold to help it last a little longer. Even kept cold, use it no longer than 7-10 days before tossing it out and replacing it with a fresh bottle.
How to make a flower essence spray
There are two ways to make a spray of a flower essence blend. The first is to simply purchase a sprayer bottle instead of a dropper bottle. These are a little less easy to find, but still pretty easily available. (See the Resources at the end of this post for where to buy both dropper and sprayer dosage bottles.)
Second, you can get yourself an everyday plastic spray/mister bottle from the grocery or drug store. Clean it well then rinse it well with spring water. Add one dropperful of your formula blend to the spray bottle and fill with spring water. (Or add about 3 drops of each essence you’ve selected from their stock bottle.)
A flower essence spray bottle can be used to mist around your dog’s head, his bedding or crate, anywhere he sleeps, or any place in the home he tends to exhibit problem behavior.
Labeling your flower essence blend
Unless you only make one flower essence blend ever for your dog, you’re going to want to keep track of what you tried, and how well it worked. I suggest you label any flower essence blend with the date, your dog’s name, and what that particular blend addresses.
You might label it, Buffy’s Calming Blend for Class, January 10, 2020. Another option is something like Buffy Blend #1 – Jan 2020.
Keep a record in a notebook, a file on your computer, or a note on your phone to keep track of which essences you used for each blend. (Believe me, you think you’ll remember, but after a few variations, it’ll all be a blur.)
Along with the essences used, try to remember to make a note of when your dog started responding to the new blend, how she responded, how long improvement continued, what types of improvements you saw, etc. This will help you tremendously down the road, and it will make for a fascinating history!
Where to buy Bach flower remedies
Individual Bach flower remedy stock bottles are available at most brick-and-mortar health food stores, as well as most online natural health stores. They can be found at popular online health food and supplement stores such as Vitacost and Swanson’s, but honestly, almost any online natural health store should carry the full line of Bach flowers.
If you’re looking for Healing Herbs English flower essences (prepared under the direction of Julian Barnard according to Dr. Bach’s original methods), try Flower Essences Services in California or Healing Herbs Online in the United Kingdom.
Where to buy dosage bottles
These are available from most any health food store or natural grocery. Online they can easily be found at Amazon, Ebay, and various natural health sites, such as Swanson’s.
Where to have Bach flower remedies blended for you
Blending your own flower remedy dosage bottle is a very simple procedure, but you may prefer to have your selected flower remedies blended for you. At Aldaron Essences, we offer a service called Design Your Own Flower Essence Formula.
Basically, you pick the Bach flower essences you want, and we mix it up and mail it to you. You have your choice of 4 sizes of dosage bottles, brandy or glycerin for preservative, and can choose either dropper or sprayer top.
Thanks for reading my guide and FAQ on how to create a Bach flower remedy blend for your dog. I hope it inspired you to experiment with this wonderful, safe and gentle natural therapy.
Julie Cantrell CBDC BSc is a professional dog trainer and canine behavior consultant who’s logged many thousands of hours training dogs and teaching owners since 1990. Flower essences have been part of her work with canine behavior since 1994. (Bio)